Frequently Asked Questions
The brief answer is that the University wants to achieve an imperative in its strategic plan that states it will "offer distance learning to select markets and assure high quality." Those select markets include individuals seeking online graduate programs and the adult learner with some college and no degree or a high school credential and no college that want a pathway to earn their degree. These market segments represent an untapped pool of qualified potential students for the University to attract and serve. The distance and electronic program development task force, under the leadership of Paula Broussard, is presently working on a program strategy for the University.
The University of Louisiana at Lafayette places great emphasis on the consistency, continuity, and integrity of its learning environments. All electronic academic courses at the University are considered equivalent to traditional courses, are taught by regular and approved adjunct faculty, and adhere to all the same standards, prerequisites, and requirements as traditional sections of identical courses. Equivalency means the “totality of learning experiences for each learner should cover the same area, even if individual experiences might be quite different” (Simonson, 2007). Regardless of the delivery format, LEARNING is the primary aim with achievement of stated course and program learning outcomes as the primary assessment measure.
Students taking hybrid or online courses are expected to learn material and achieve the same course learning outcomes as a face-to-face / traditionally delivered course. The instructional methods and student learning activities may vary greatly from the face-to-face version of a course and its hybrid or online version. Student taking hybrid and online courses at UL Lafayette must be self-disciplined, organized, and make a serious time commitment. Hybrid and online courses at the University are not easier than face-to-face courses. In many cases and based on national research studies, these courses require more time.
Students planning to take an online or hybrid course should have ready access to a personal computer and software appropriate to his or her field of study. Students can meet this expectation by purchasing or leasing a computer, sharing a computer with family or roommates, or using a UL Lafayette student computer lab.
All UL Lafayette students should expect to use a personal computer in many university activities, including coursework, accessing library information, registering for classes, and e-mail.
Specific hardware and software requirements vary by department and course, so check with your instructor. At a minimum, you will need the following:
- Consistent access to a computer
- Dependable and High Speed Internet access
- Web browser
- Word processing software
No. Online learning is becoming a more established part of the American college and university strategies for delivering postsecondary education instruction through courses and full degree programs. Enrollment trend reports, produced annually by the Sloan Consortium, show no future decrease in the number of online courses and programs being offered. To suggest it is a trend would indicate it is not here to stay, but online learning is a “game changer” for many public, not-for-profit, and for-profit colleges and universities.
For Students (5)
The University will be undertaking a master planning process that will document the long range program plans from all Colleges and Departments. It is anticipated that those plans will determine which courses and programs will be offered electronically.
The University is investigating a fee per credit hour charge for hybrid and online courses. These courses require a significantly higher amount of the IT and electronic resources to develop, produce, and offer each semester. Also, they provide convenience and flexibility for students. Currently, a fee per credit hour is planned for implementation in spring 2011.
According to Moodle.org, “Moodle is a Course Management System (CMS), also known as a Learning Management System (LMS) or a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). It is a free web application that educators can use to create effective online learning sites.” A learning management system or LMS is software that high school teachers, community college instructors, and university professors use to organize course content to partially or fully deliver a course or set of courses online through the World Wide Web.
UL Lafayette recently received approval from its regional accrediting agency, SACS, to offer degree programs through distance learning technologies. The first fully online degree program to be offered by UL is the Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology with a concentration in Health, Promotion, and Wellness. The first students will be admitted to this online program beginning in the spring 2012 semester.
Through a consortium with McNeese State University and Southeastern Louisiana University, UL Lafayette offers a Master of Science in Nursing completely online.
The University has defined five types of electronic courses available from traditional courses that use some electronic documents to aid instruction to fully online courses with no face-to-face component. Read more about the types of courses at reading the course definitions. (Types of Courses)
For Faculty (6)
A list of priorities is provided in the cover letter each time the University issues a request for proposals for electronic course design awards. Those priorities guide the decisions of the committee, which select the awards. Previous results can be reviewed at this link.
The University’s strategic plan discusses the role of distance learning within the section - Strategic Imperative 3: Facilitating Quality Teaching and Learning . Distance learning will “enhance the classroom experience” by offering “ distance learning to select markets and assuring high quality delivery.”
A primary target for UL Lafayette’s existing and new electronic courses is non-traditional learners, which the UL System recognizes as the new norm. The demand and growth of e-learning nationwide has been documented by the Sloan-Consortium, whose past and most recent reports you can access at this link,
Conversely, the 21st century college student, regardless of age, wants options in taking their courses. In providing these options, the University will be better positioned to attract the adult learner market, but will also be better aligned to serve the demands of students who grew up with Internet enabled devices (laptops, cell phones, iPhones, iPads, etc.).
Receipt of an electronic course award is not the only opportunity or pathway for UL Lafayette faculty members to propose and develop electronic course offerings. The Office of Distance & Electronic Learning polices discusses the course development decisions in two ways: (a) the authority to develop courses and (b) the process for certifying the courses.
The authority to grant faculty the approval to develop electronic courses is vested with the academic department heads in collaboration with their respective dean. These academic administrators hold the power as to which courses can be offered hybrid or online. Please read the General Guidelines for Development and Delivery of a Locally Produced Electronic Courses.
In terms of the process for certifying course to be offered through the University, there are faculty preparation requirements referenced at the link above with more information found here. Those professional development standards are desired by faculty who are serious about providing high quality electronic courses. Also, electronic courses must be designed to meet the essential standards of the Quality Matters Rubric and will need to be vetted through the approved course review process discussed at this link.
The University has articulated the following goals:
- Create college courses and programs through alternate delivery methods in order to offer educational opportunities to students unable to accommodate a traditional class schedule.
- Ensure the technology used is appropriate to the nature and objectives of the academic programs.
- Expand educational opportunities in a financially responsible manner through synchronous and asynchronous electronic learning.
- Provide technical training to university faculty in the use of e-learning instructional techniques and in the use of associated technologies.
- Facilitate student success in distance learning courses and programs by providing and promoting an environment of equal opportunity.