This year, CCV is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its online learning programs, which have contributed to making the College one of the most accessible institutions of higher education in the state. “Access has been the cornerstone of CCV’s mission since our founding,” says Eric Sakai, Dean of Academic Technology.
CCV offered its first online course, Introduction to Political Science, in the spring of 1996. The course was offered tuition-free to 25 students. Three courses were offered that fall, and today the College offers over 300 online and hybrid classes each semester. As of 2016, CCV is the largest provider of online education in Vermont, with over one third of students taking at least one class in this format.
At a recent meeting of the Vermont State Colleges Board of Trustees, held at CCV’s Montpelier academic center, the Center for Online Learning (COL) hosted an information session to recognize the 20-year milestone. Eric Sakai gave the Board a brief history of the COL; faculty member Shawn Kerivan spoke about the experience of teaching online; and Justin Crowther, Wendy Hatoum, and Lou Lore spoke about the student perspective of online learning at CCV.
Below, members of the CCV community share their own thoughts about teaching, advising, and learning online. Read on for an up-close of CCV’s COL from the people who make it go.
Name: Philip Crossman
Your life outside of CCV: I tend to be a rather voracious reader, caricaturist, ice skater, and father of two delightful young men.
Affiliation with online learning at CCV: Though I have been an academic coordinator in CCV’s online program for a year and a half, I have been teaching online courses for CCV for almost twenty years.
What stands out about online learning at CCV? Having taught several hundred online courses here at CCV and other institutions of higher education, I can think of a number of reasons to celebrate what I see happening here in COL. Many of our instructors are currently involved in their fields as well as being highly qualified teachers. Students are receiving instruction in skills and knowledge but also developing networks. One should also be impressed by just how much more accessible well-designed online courses are to students with varied schedules, varied learning styles, and varied goals. Online courses give me the ability to work with students as individuals as they learn from one another.
What does the future of online education look like? In my vision of the future of CCV’s Center for Online Learning, I see more and more adjustable features in more and more courses. Faculty will get better at giving students different ways to learn and different ways to demonstrate that learning. I also see more ways to connect students’ online learning with field experiences as they take courses. We expect to be providing more courses in accelerated formats and I can see a future where more and more Vermont high school students elect to pursue their education in the state when they finish high school. Online courses will be an essential part of that change. It’s exciting.
Name: Caroline Elizabeth Palmer
Your life outside of CCV: Vermont dairy farmer, student pilot, truck driver, work for USPS. Sister, aunt, daughter. Love to ski, hike, ride my horse.
Affiliation with online learning at CCV: I chose CCV’s online learning program because of how it would fit my needs as a non-traditional student working full time. It allows me flexibility and the opportunity to continue my education in addition to my regular life.
How does online learning fit into your academic and career goals? Online learning is enabling me to pursue the academic education foundational to my career as a pilot while still working full time as my current responsibilities demand.
What is your favorite thing about taking classes online? Freedom is definitely my favorite thing about taking classes online. I absolutely love the fact that where and when I go to school is (for the most part) up to me. For example, I’m someone who loves to travel, and I love that as long as I can get off work, have my laptop, and find internet (hot spots are awesome!), I can attend CCV from anywhere I want. Instead of the schedules of on-campus classes running (i.e. dictating) my life, online allows school to fit into my life.
Name: Carla R. Payne PhD
Your life outside of CCV: Retired from faculty at Vermont College in 2006, live in beautiful East Cabot, where we keep a big garden.
Affiliation with online learning at CCV: I have been teaching online courses for CCV since 1998.
How has online learning at CCV changed over the years? We have had numerous changes in the technology, but overall the teaching/learning environment has not changed much. Classes are still at a manageable size and support is very good.
What is your favorite thing about teaching online? The opportunity to be thoughtful about what I am doing and saying is very important. I have always been interested in the ways in which technology can support learner-centered education, and I appreciate the opportunity to design and implement courses in which learning is a collaborative process.
Name: Megan Tucker
Your life outside of CCV: I spend my spring, summer and fall in the garden I created for my granddaughter. In the winter, I wait for baseball season to start.
Affiliation with online learning at CCV: In 1996, I was a member of the CCV Emerging Technologies committee that was responsible for designing and delivering the first online course. Subsequently, I worked with Tim Donovan and John Christensen to develop our web presence(s) and manage the discussion forum software as we grew the online program from a single course to just over 100 sections in the spring of 2002. Until 2000 when we adopted Blackboard as our learning management system, we created all courses and student accounts manually.
What stands out about online learning at CCV? In the early days what stood out most at CCV was the focus on the pedagogy of online learning. A lot of effort went into developing our faculty to be good at teaching in the online environment. In addition, we offered students an Online Learning Workshop before they took their first class to help them not only understand the technology, but more importantly, see how online contrasts with learning in the classroom. As an early administrator, I always found that with each new course we offered online it was a challenge to make the technology work for the content that needed to be covered and not the other way around, and thought that if we couldn’t do that effectively then we probably shouldn’t take that course online until the technology was ready.
What does the future of online education look like? I expect that the technology will only become better at delivering as full a student experience as possible. Learning has already been extended to multiple end-user platforms and likely will include more immersive technologies in the not so distant future. The border between classroom and living room will become even blurrier.