Evaluation Project ISTC 617-Distance Education: Theory and Practice Spring 2003 Laura Harrington I. Description of Module/Lesson to be Evaluated Distance education is a constantly evolving and most certainly growing field which encompasses many aspects that one would find in a traditional classroom as well as the separation of learners from instructor. Distance education is comprised of many factors, including designing, implementation, and evaluation. While the design and implementation of distance education courses are extremely important, equally as important is the evaluation of such courses. It is only when distance education courses are evaluated that successes can be measured and targeted areas of improvement can be identified. Evaluation of distance education courses and their components is an important part of the instructional design process. The distance education course which I chose to evaluate for this final project is entitled Literacy 519, which is taught at Western Kentucky University by Dr. Pam Petty. The module uses a WebQuest format and is titled “Literacy for All.” Before getting into the contents of the WebQuest, it is important to first understand the subject matter of the course itself. Literacy 519, Foundations of Reading Instruction, is an online graduate course offered by Western Kentucky University. This course is offered to graduate education students, and focuses on reading and the reading process. The majority of the students enrolled in this course are full time elementary educators. The course is offered online, however the students do meet face to face with their instructor two to four times throughout the semester. The instructor of Literacy 519 is Dr. Pam Petty. Dr. Petty is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Special Programs, Division of Literacy, at Western Kentucky University. Dr. Petty has quite an extensive background in the field of education, including literacy education, elementary education, information sciences, child and family studies, and holistic teaching and learning. Dr. Petty taught first and second grade for seven years. She was then an instructor for three years at Tennessee Technological University. Finally, she has been an Assistant Professor at Western Kentucky University for the past three years. Since Literacy 519 uses the WebQuest format, it is best to describe each page in sequence as they are to appear to the learner. Dr. Petty begins by introducing herself to her students through an introduction page. She informs the students of her background, both personal and educational. Dr. Petty adds that she wants to get to know her students, and asks them to create a homepage through Blackboard, preferably including a picture. Additionally, she also informs her students that they will need to check email and Blackboard on a daily basis. The introduction page of the course serves as just that, an introduction. Dr. Petty goes into further detail about her course in the course syllabus. The syllabus for this course is extremely detailed. Dr. Petty begins by offering her contact information, including her home and work phone numbers, her home and work email addresses, her office address and office hours, and the course website. Dr. Petty also provides evening electronic hours each night for her students. Dr. Petty next lists the two required texts for the course. Dr. Petty links to a course objectives webpage which goes into very extensive detail of each objective of the course as well as how teachers will use that objective in the classroom. Dr. Petty provides her students with five course disposition statements, which state her disposition in regards to the course and her students. Next, Dr. Petty has a link to the course assignments, which are in the form of a WebQuest. There are four assignments or tasks which will be discussed in further detail later on. Dr. Petty next describes the use of Blackboard as a discussion space. Discussions in this class take place separate of the WebQuest. Basic guidelines for the proper use of Blackboard are discussed in detail. Dr. Petty also explains to students how they will be assessed for their participation in Blackboard discussions. Each student in her class is assigned a topic for which they must devise discussion prompts. Students facilitate discussion for their assigned topic on specific weeks throughout the course. Dr. Petty informs her students of these dates in the syllabus. In addition, Dr. Petty provides a link for a course calendar, which lists all due dates of the WebQuest tasks as well as the discussion prompts. Finally, the syllabus lists some helpful links to websites, as well as supplementary resources. Prior to beginning the WebQuest, students will complete an introductory task that asks them to read and respond to two articles. Students are also surveyed on such things as the grade level they teach, experience, views on cooperative learning, use of technology in the classroom, and multiculturalism in their classroom. Finally, the instructor provides the students with the objectives of the WebQuest. Students are invited to proceed to task one. Task one of the WebQuest involves writing a literacy autobiography. Students are to write a detailed composition of their experience with literacy spanning the time period from their first memories to the present. They are also to reflect on how their current attitudes towards literacy may be impacted by previous experiences with literacy. Finally, students are to reflect on changes in their attitudes regarding literacy. Dr. Petty provides the students with a rubric for the assignment as well as general guidelines. Task two involves students submitting a lesson plan which they have taught or are planning to teach in the near future. Students are urged not to revise their lesson plan, for it will be examined in a later task. Throughout the semester, students are to revise this lesson plan. They are also to maintain a journal detailing what revisions they made to their lesson and why these revisions were made. Finally, students will write a reflection paper detailing their rationale for making changes to their lesson plan, which is to be submitted with their revised lesson plan. Dr. Petty provides her students with adequate guidelines for this assignment, as well as a rubric and list of useful resources. Task three of the WebQuest includes the students creating an original WebQuest. Dr. Petty provides several links to websites regarding WebQuests, and encourages her students to visit these sites to become more familiar with the concept. Students are then required to develop a WebQuest within their current content area. The WebQuest should be one that the students are able to use with their current students. Dr. Petty provides the students with the purposes for creating a WebQuest. She also provides her students with a WebQuest template and links for creating web pages. Finally, resources for this project are listed, as well as guidelines and a rubric for the assignment. Task four is a cumulative task for the course. Students are to write a reflection paper focusing on their experiences throughout the course. Dr. Petty lists specific requirements for the paper, as well as certain components that students must write about. She provides links to APA style bibliography recourses, since students are to make citations in this manner. Finally, she provides guidelines and a rubric for this paper. A separate evaluation page is provided listing rubrics for all four tasks, and this page is also linked to from the page for each specific task. Dr. Petty also includes an extensive list of both online and print resources. She also offers a suggested reading list for the course. Finally, as a conclusion to the course, Dr. Petty offers several journal entries to her students which she has written throughout the duration of the course. Clearly, Dr. Petty has provided a well-planned distance education course for her students. Literacy 519 contains many components designed to meet the needs of a multitude of learning styles. The combination of Blackboard and individual assignments gives the learner a variety of activities and assessments. Dr. Petty develops clear lines of communication with her students and maintains these lines throughout the semester. Before formally evaluating this course, it is important to understand the design and support of the evaluation model being used. II. Design and Support for Evaluation Model The design of the evaluation model for this project was a very tedious and involved practice. First and foremost, it was important to read various research and articles related to the evaluation process. Next, myself and five colleagues discussed and debate what should and should not be included in an evaluation model. We first focused on several topics that were present in most of the research we were reading and discussing. Seven topics were apparent as being important for consideration and inclusion in our evaluation model. These topics were learning goals and content presentation, interactions, assessment and measurement, instructional media and tools, learner support system and services, faculty performance, and comparison to traditional course. Through discussion and debate, the decision was made that comparison to a traditional course was not a vital component for our evaluation model. We also decided that interactions could be divided into two topics: faculty/student interactions and student/student interactions. Likewise, the decision was made that assessment and measurement could be divided into the topics of assessment design and implementation and grading and deadlines. From this list of topics, statements for each topic were developed. In addition, the Likert scale was determined to be an effective means of scoring specific statements, with one being poor, two being below average, three being average, four being above average, and five being excellent. Finally, an overall is determined for each topic by averaging the scores of questions that fall under that topic. Learning Goals and Content Presentation Learning goals and content presentation are one of the most important aspects of the evaluation model. Learning goals should be explicitly stated at the onset of the course (Achtemeier, Morris, and Finnegan, 2003). Students should be made aware of the course objectives and learning goals so that they know what it is they are expected to know at the end of the course. This allows students to assess their own learning. In addition, these learning goals should be available and easily accessible by students (Ragan, 1999). It is crucial that students be able to access these learning goals at any time throughout the semester so as to assess their progress. According to Achtemeier et al, (2003) activities within distance education courses should be structured to help students meet the goals established by the instructor. Furthermore, deadlines should be posted online and easily accessible to students (Achtemeier et al, 2003). This is imperative in assuring student success, specifically due to the separation of learner from instructor. Achtemeier et al (2003) also state that the instructor should provide examples of exemplary performance to students. This allows students to see what caliber of work is expected on certain assignments, as well as giving students a model to base their assignments on. Students should demonstrate satisfaction with their learning, and learning should be grounded in “effective, contextual, authentic, case-based examples” (Achtemeier et al, 2003). Learners should be provided with information such as the course requirements, necessary prerequisite technology skills, and equipment needs (The Sloan Consortium, 2002). It is critical that students are aware of prerequisite technology skills and equipment needs, for a lacking in these areas might affect student progress throughout the course. Finally, The Sloan Consortium (2002) finds that the technology employed by the instructor must be appropriate for meeting the needs of the course objectives, and not just used for the sake of using technology. Faculty to Student Interactions Faculty to student interactions are a vital aspect of the evaluation model. Pictures of faculty and students should be posted and readily available and accessible to class members (King, 2000). This allows for distance-based education to be more personal, and it also helps bridge the spatial gap between instructor and students. Ragan (1999) states that in order to set the climate for the course, the instructor should hold an initial class meeting face-to-face. This is especially important in distance education courses, where students do not see one another in a traditional classroom setting. It is essential that an initial class meeting be held to help establish the climate for the course, as well as to acquaint the instructor and students in a persona, face-to- face manner. Furthermore, both formal and informal activities must be available for faculty/student interaction (Achtemeier et al, 2003). The instructor should make students aware of set office hours and establish a set time and/or place where questions may be asked (King, 2000). Again, this is crucial in a distance education environment, especially an asynchronous environment where there may not be set class times as those found in a traditional classroom setting. Finally, according to The Sloan Consortium (2002), the faculty to student interactions should encourage critical thinking, problem solving, analysis, integration, and synthesis of ideas. Student to Student Interactions Student to student interactions are a necessary component of the evaluation model, specifically due to the spatial separation of learners in a distance education environment. Many instructors divide their students into teams or small groups in an effort to establish a deeper sense of community. According to King (2000), small groups or teams should be established and mixed throughout the duration of the course to allow for more opportunities of interaction with various groups of students. This allows for students to become familiar with more students, not just the students in their set groups. In addition, students should be able to see their classmates’ work (King, 2000). Additionally, they should be able to respond to the work of their peers (Andriole, 1997). Responding to one another’s work allows for a sense of community to form among learners. Ragan (1999) states that students should have frequent and meaningful interactions with one another in order to enrich their learning experience in a course, and social interactions should be both encouraged and supported by the instructor. This is a critical focus in distance education due to the spatial separation of instructor and students. Assessment Design and Implementation Assessment design and implementation is another vital component of the evaluation model. Student assessments should be based on learning goals, outcomes, and objectives for the course (Ragan, 1999). This is the only method by which student progress can be fairly assessed. Ragan (1999) also finds that students should engage in both formal and informal assessments. This allows for a variety of environments in which students may be assessed. The instructor should provide the student with examples of assessment models (Ragan, 1999). In addition, King (2000) states that the instructor should vary and differential assessments to accommodate the different learning styles of students. This will help to address the varied learning styles of the students. Furthermore, assessments should be designed in order to accommodate special needs, characteristics, and situations that might arise in distance-based education (Ragan, 1999). Distance education is a quite unique form of education. Therefore it must be taken into account that sometimes the unthinkable might occur. Situations might arise in a distance education course which would not arise in a traditional course, such as technology failures. Finally, because distance education is more student-centered than traditional education, Ragan (1999) feels that students should be given the opportunity to offer feedback on assessments in terms of their design, implementation, and evaluation. Grading and Deadlines Grading and deadlines is a needed component of the evaluation model. The instructor should provide the students with grading criteria and point values for all assessments (Ragan, 1999). Students should be made aware of the caliber of work expected of them, as well as how to achieve success on assignments. Moreover, King (2000) finds that the instructor should provide the student with realistic deadlines for assessments and acknowledge when they receive electronically submitted assignments (Achtemeier et al, 2003). This is especially important since times may occur when a student is submitting an assignment electronically and forgets to attach the actual assignment. The instructor should make every effort to grade assessments in a timely manner and provide feedback to the students regarding their work (Achtemeier et al, 2003). Timely feedback is important to help students assess their progress and learning. Finally, students should have every opportunity to assess their learning progress and should be able to check their grades for the course (Achtemeier et al, 2003). Instructional Media and Tools Instructional media and tools are essential to examine in the evaluation model. Instructional media and tools should be used appropriately to achieve specific learning goals and objectives for the course according to Ragan (1999). Many times, distance education instructors utilize technology for the sole purpose of using it, not taking into account how it will help or hinder student achievement of learning goals for the course. In addition, the use of instructional media and tools should reflect the diversity of learners in a particular class (Ragan, 1999). Not all learners may have previous experience with a particular technology. Moreover, students’ technology skills must be assessed prior to the start of the course (Achtemeier et al, 2003). This is vital, because if students are not skilled at using a particular technology, they might encounter difficulty throughout a course. Furthermore, Achtemeier et al (2003) find that students must have access to the technology needed for the course. Contingency plans should exist in the case that a technology-related interruption occurs (Ragan, 1999). The unthinkable might happen, as technology can be unpredictable at times. While this might be out of the instructor’s control, it is important that the instructor have a contingency plan. Finally, according to Ragan, (1999) students should utilize appropriate technology in the completion of assignments for the course. Learner Support Systems and Services Learner support systems and services are vital as a component of the evaluation model. Course goals, learning objectives and outcomes must be made clear at the onset of the course (Ragan, 1999). Ragan (1999) also finds that adequate technological support should be available for students who might encounter difficulties. Students should have somewhere or someone to turn to when they have a question or encounter a problem. The course format and page design should be easy for the learners to navigate (Ragan, 1999). Due to the fact that distance education students are separate of one another and their instructor, students must be able to navigate course webpages and find specific information they may need on their own. Ragan (1999) states that sufficient instructions should be given for the completion of assignments. Because verbal instructions are not given, this is especially important. In addition, standards for evaluation of assignments should be made clear by the instructor (Ragan, 1999). Students should be made aware of upon exactly what standards the basis for the evaluation of their work will be made. Furthermore, Ragan (1999) states that online conversations with the instructor and classmates must be encouraged. Classmates and instructors must support one another in the unique environment of distance education. Faculty’s Performance Faculty’s performance is a necessary part of the evaluation model. A distance-based course could be perfectly designed, but without proper facilitation by the instructor, students might encounter many difficulties. The instructor should be knowledgeable about their subject area (Achtemeier et al, 2003), available to students if they have questions or need support (The Sloan Consortium, 2002), establish and maintain communication with students (Achtemeier et al, 2003), and demonstrate an enthusiasm for the course content (Achtemeier et al, 2003). If the instructor is not excited to be teaching a course, the students are less likely to be motivated to do well. The motivation of the instructor is directly correlated to the students’ success in a course. Students are more likely to be motivated to work hard when their instructor is excited about the subject matter of the course. According to Achtemeier et al (2003), instruction should be embedded with motivational and challenging components. If students are not challenged in a course, their interest will not be held very well or for very long. III. Implementation and Evaluation Report and Results 1-Poor 2-Below Average 3-Average 4-Above Average 5-Excellent Learning Goals and Content Presentation 1. Goals are clearly articulated and publicly available 5 2. Activities are sequenced and structured to enable students to 5 reach goals 3. Deadlines are posted 5 4. Students demonstrate satisfaction with learning activities 5 5. Format and page design are easy to use 5 6. Expectations are clearly communicated 5 7. Examples of exemplary performance are provided by instructor 5 8. Learning is grounded in effective, contextual, authentic, case- 5 based examples 9. Learners are provided with course requirements, necessary 4 prerequisite technology skills, and equipment needs 10. Technology is appropriate for meeting course objectives 5 Overall Score: 4.9 Dr. Petty does an outstanding job of presenting the learning goals and content to her students. Her website thoroughly discusses each learning objective for the course, as well as how these objectives fit the students’ daily lives. The activities and assignment for Literacy 519 are sequenced and structured to enable the students to achieve the goals set for the course by the instructor. Specifically, the revised lesson plan and final reflection paper allow for students to reflect on their growth and knowledge gained throughout the course. Dr. Petty clearly denotes due dates for all assignments. In addition, the course website is formatted in a user-friendly manner. The course expectations are clearly articulated to her students. Samples of student work are provided as examples of specific assignments. This allows current students to view exemplary work. The technology used for this course, Blackboard, is appropriate in meeting the course objectives. The only area where some improvement is needed is that of providing learners with the prerequisite technology skills for the course. Being that this is a graduate course, it is understood that students should be proficient using email and word processing software, as well as be able to use the internet effectively. However, Dr. Petty does not explicitly state her prerequisite skills for technology. Given the nature of this course and the students it services, this does not hinder their learning in any way, but is still imperative to address. Faculty to Student Interactions 1. Pictures of the faculty and students are accessible to the class 5 2. Instructor participates in climate-setting role meeting 3 3. Opportunities are present for faculty /student interaction 5 4. The instructor publicizes set office hours 5 5. The instructor establishes a set question and answer time and/or 4 place 6. Faculty/student interaction encourages critical thinking, problem 5 solving, analysis, integration and synthesis Overall Score: 4.5 Dr. Petty clearly establishes a comfortable rapport with her students, and maintains positive lines of communication with them. Students are encouraged to create a student webpage through Blackboard, and to include a picture on their webpage, allowing fellow classmates and the instructor to put a face with a name. As support for this course, many opportunities are present for faculty to student interactions through the use of Blackboard. Students have multiple means by which to communicate with the instructor. Dr. Petty provides set campus office hours and holds online office hours every evening. She additionally provides her students with a home telephone number. Two areas which are in need of improvement are the instructor participating in a climate- setting role meeting, and the instructor establishing a set question and answer time and/or place. Dr. Petty does hold an initial face-to-face meeting for her course. However, this meeting is optional. In addition, there is no specific question and answer time and/or place for students to ask questions. However, Dr. Petty provides students with a multitude of communication methods through which they may pose questions. Student to Student Interactions 1. Small group/problem solving teams are established N/A 2. Groups are mixed throughout the course to allow for varied N/A interaction with many students 3. Students see each other’s work and offer responses to one 5 another 4. Frequent, meaningful interactions with classmates enrich the 5 learning experience 5. Social interactions are encouraged and supported by the course 5 design and instructor Overall Score: 5 Student to student interactions are a bit unique in Literacy 519, because the students are in a program designed to certify new teachers who are not certified but already have a bachelor’s degree. Therefore, these students all know one another from previous classes in this program. For that reason, in addition to the nature of this course, small groups are not established, and therefore are not shuffled throughout the course. Students are able to view one another’s work, but they may only view selected assignments. Students can view one another’s WebQuests as well as their discussion prompts. It is effective that Dr. Petty allows students to view some but not all of their peers’ assignments. Students are encouraged by the instructor to socialize with one another. A “Chit-Chat” discussion board is established on Blackboard, as well as discussion boards on such topics as current novels students are reading. Dr. Petty does an excellent job fostering student to student interaction in the course. Assessment Design and Implementation 1. Student assessments are based on learning goals, outcomes, or 5 objectives 2. Formal and informal assessments are given 5 3. Assessment models / examples are given 4 4. Assessments are varied / differentiated to accommodate different 5 learning styles 5. Assessments are designed to accommodate special needs, characteristics, and situations that arise in a distance education 4 environment 6. Students have opportunities to offer feedback on assessments— 5 design, implementation, evaluation Overall Score: 4.7 An outstanding job is done for designing and implementing assessments for Literacy 519. The assessments for this course are directly related to the course goals and objectives. In addition, both formal and informal assessments are used. Students are assessed formally by completing the four WebQuest tasks, and informally through their discussion prompts and participation in the discussion. There are varied assessments in this course, meeting the different learning styles of students. Due to the wonderful rapport which Dr. Petty establishes with her students, students have the opportunity to offer her with feedback on assessments. One concern is that the assessments are not designed to meet special needs and other uncontrollable situations that might occur in a distance-based learning environment. However, the lack of these components is not detrimental to the students or their success in Literacy 519. Grading and Deadlines 1. Grading criteria and point values are given for assessments 5 2. Realistic deadlines are given 5 3. Progressive deadlines are given for larger projects / assignments 5 4. The instructor acknowledges that assignments are received 5 5. Assessments are graded promptly and informational feedback is 5 given regarding students’ work 6. Students are able to assess their own learning progress and are 5 able to check their grades Overall Score: 5 In the area of grading and deadlines, an outstanding job is once again done by the instructor. Dr. Petty provides her students with rubrics for each assignment of the course, as well as clear and specific guidelines. Realistic deadlines for assignments are established at the onset of the course, and students are made aware of these deadlines through the use of the course calendar. Students submit assignments to the instructor via the digital dropbox in Blackboard or via email. When students submit assignments electronically, Dr. Petty acknowledges that she has received the assignment by sending a quick email message to the student. The instructor gives excellent, detailed, meaningful feedback to her students. Detailed comments are written within students’ papers. For the WebQuest assignment, she provides the students with a written and detailed explanation of their grade. This feedback is in addition to the completed rubrics, established for assessing these projects. Finally, students assess their own learning throughout the semester. The final paper and revision of the lesson plan assignments encourage students to monitor their learning and assess it at the end of the course. Instructional Media and Tools 1. Instructional media and tools are appropriate and used 5 purposefully to achieve specific learning goals and objectives 2. The use of instructional media and tools reflects the diversity of 5 the learners 3. Students’ technology skills are assessed prior to the course 1 4. Students have access to the necessary technology for the course 5 5. Students are adequately prepared and supported in the use of 4 instructional media and tools 6. Contingency strategies are planned to recover from technology- 3 related interruptions 7. Students utilize appropriate technology to complete assessments 5 Overall Score: 4 The area of instructional media and tools was the lowest scoring area for the entire evaluation. However, the course did average a four in this area, which is still above average. The instructor does make effective use of instructional media and tools. But, in comparing Dr. Petty’s practices with the evaluation model, some areas of practice are in need of improvement. Dr. Petty uses effective technology specific to the learning objectives for her course. The primary technological component of Literacy 519 is Blackboard. In addition, students have access to the necessary technology for the course and use appropriate technology to complete assignments. Despite the areas of effective use of instructional media and tools, the instructor does not assess students’ technology skills prior to the course. It is assumed that since the students are graduate students and teachers they are proficient in the area of technology. For this same reason, it is assumed that the students have access to the technology required for the course. Finally, Dr. Petty does not have a specific contingency plan in place for when technology-related interruptions occur. However, due to the many long-term assignments for the course, if a technology-related interruption were to occur, student learning would not be hindered. Nonetheless, it is critical that these items be considered in the evaluation of any distance-based course. Learner Support Systems and Services 1. Course goals, learning objectives, and outcomes are made clear 5 at the beginning of the course 2. Adequate technical support is available for students who 4 encounter difficulties 3. Course format and page design is easy to use 5 4. Sufficient instructions are given for completion of assignments 5 5. Standards for evaluation of assignments are made clear 5 6. Online conversations with instructor are encouraged 5 7. Online conversations with classmates are encouraged 5 Overall Score: 4.9 At the onset of Literacy 519, the course’s goals, learning objectives, and outcomes are made clear to the students. The course format and web pages are very easy to navigate. Explicit instructions are provided for all assignments. For example, for the WebQuest assignment, Dr. Petty provides her students who may not have experience creating web pages with resources on the subject. Students are provided with standards for evaluation in the form of assignment guidelines and rubrics. They are encouraged to contact the instructor if they have questions or need support, whether it be technology or course-related. Furthermore, classmates are encouraged to turn to one another for support throughout the course. Dr. Petty does provide adequate technological support for her students in the form of tutorial sessions and other additional resources. However, this support might be provided better in the form of face-to-face meetings with students. Faculty’s Performance 1. The instructor is knowledgeable about the subject area 5 2. The instructor is available to the students throughout the course 5 3. The instructor establishes and maintains communication with 5 students 4. The instructor displays enthusiasm about the course content 5 5. Instruction is embedded with motivational and challenging 5 components 6. There is obvious respect for learning styles and diverse talents 5 Overall Score: 5 Dr. Petty is clearly an excellent professor who does her job extremely well. She is obviously knowledgeable of her subject area, as is evident through her various web pages concerning the topic of literacy. In addition, Dr. Petty makes herself available to her students in a variety of methods, such as telephone, office hours, online office hours, and email. Dr. Petty communicates with her students often by email, and maintains this communication throughout the semester. She is enthusiastic about her subject content. By browsing through her webpage it was clear that she loves what she does, and that she does it well. Literacy 519 has both motivating and challenging components. It is designed to make the learner reflect on their learning throughout the course, as well as to examine their literacy habits. Finally, Dr. Petty respects diverse learning styles through the use of varied formal assessments. Conclusion In conclusion, the evaluation of distance-based courses is just as important if not more vital than the planning and implementation of such courses. Many components must be considered as one prepared to design an evaluation model for a distance based course. These components include learning goals and objectives, faculty to student interactions, student to student interactions, assessment design and implementation, grading and deadlines, instructional media and tools, learner support systems and services, and faculty’s performance. While it is not necessary that a course or module perform well in all these areas due to the variety of distance education courses, high performance in these areas is consistent with effective practices of distance education. It is clear that Literacy 519 is an exceptionally well-designed distance-based course. Students are provided with clear learning objectives, a detailed syllabus, detailed guidelines and rubrics for assignments, as well as resources, both online and in print. The instructor establishes communication with her students and maintains these lines of communication throughout the duration of the course. Furthermore, student interactions are encouraged by the development of informal discussion boards. Finally, students are provided with more than sufficient feedback on all assignments. It is clear that Dr. Petty embraces the challenges that distance education courses offer, and she meets these challenges well. Works Cited Achtemeier, S. D., Morris L. V. and Finnegan C. L. (2003). Considerations For Developing Evaluations of Online Courses. Journal of Asynchronous Learning, Vol 7, 1, February. Andriole, S. J. (1997). Requirements-Driven ALN Course Design, Development, Delivery, and Evaluation. Journal of Asynchronous Learning, Vol 1, 2, August. King, J. W., Seven Principles of Good Teaching Practice, September 21, 2000. Retrieved April 2002 from North Central Institute for Sustainable Systems Website: http://www.agron.iastate.edu/nciss/kingsat2.html. Ragan, L. C., (1999). Good Teaching is Good Teaching: An Emerging Set of Guiding Principles for the Design and Development of Distance Education, Cause/Effect Journal, Vol 22, 1. Sloan Consortium, The (2002). The Sloan Consortium Report: Effective Practice in Online Education. Retrieved April 2002 from The Sloan Consortium Website: http://www.aln.org/effective/framework.asp.