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UMA Seal

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									REPORT ON EXISTING ACADEMIC PROGRAMMING

  OFFERED THROUGH DISTANCE EDUCATION


        FOR THE NEW ENGLAND ASSOCIATION
            OF SCHOOLS AND COLLEGES




       The University of Maine at Augusta
            Augusta, Bangor, Lewiston-Auburn
             And over 100 locations statewide




               September 20, 2002
                                                                                      2


Contact Information:
Chief Academic Officer for UMA:

Provost and Executive Vice President,
Joshua Nadel, MFA
e-mail address: nadel@maine.edu
Telephone: 207.621.3106


Contact Person for Distance Learning Questions:

Dean of Libraries, Instructional Support and Extended Learning Programs,
Thomas Abbott, Ph.D.
e-mail address: tabbott@maine.edu
Telephone: 207.753.6610 or 207.621.3342


Contact Person for Library and Information Technology Program Questions:

Program Coordinator and Assistant Dean of Libraries

Jean Thomas, MLS
e-mail address: jean.thomas@maine.edu
Telephone: 207.621.3341


Access Points for UMA Distance Learning:

http:// uma.maine.edu – UMA general WebPages

http://www.uma.maine.edu/academics/uacadprograms.html – UMA’s listing of
Academic Programs offered statewide via distance learning methodology

http://www.uma.maine.edu/libraries/pages/spclibinfo.html - Information about UMA’s
only online programs, the AS, BS and Certificate in Library and Information Technology

http://www.learn.maine.edu/ – Home page for University College, the University of
Maine System out reach centers and the “utility” that supports UMA’s distance education
efforts through Interactive television (one-way video with two-way audio, Video
conferencing (two-way video and audio), and web-based online instruction using
Blackboard

http://www.courses.maine.edu/ – University of Maine System’s Global gateway to
Blackboard version 5.5.1
                                                                                            3



Technical Infrastructure:

Overview:
In 1998, UNET/University College, the University System technology and Distance
Education support utility purchased Blackboard for all campuses to use. Version 5.5.1 is
now in use, and in the fall of 2001, UMA offered 19 courses online and enrolled 404
students. By far the majority of students are enrolled in one of the three Library
Information Technology Programs (AS, BS and Certificate).

Addressing a state of Maine need in 1996 asynchronously, UMA soon realized that the
same need existed nationally. With little advertising other than ListServe notices,
UMA’s Library and Information Technology Program has grown to 283 matriculated
students in the fall of 2001 taking 12 Lib Tech course sections. This program enrolls
students from 28 states and 4 foreign countries. In the spring of 2002, UMA graduated 19
Associate Degree students and13 Baccalaureate Degree students in Library Information
Technology.

Other departments offer occasional courses, but no other offerings lead to online degree
opportunities.

Technical Specifications for On-Line Courses:

Bandwidth: The Blackboard server is connected to the University of Maine System Wide
Area Network (WAN). All UMS campuses are connected to the WAN via leased (ATM)
circuits. The Augusta campus is connected with an OC-3 level (155 Mbps) ATM circuit
while the Bangor and Lewiston-Auburn campuses are connected at DS-3 level (45 Mbps)
ATM circuits.

Details of Connectivity: The UMS WAN is connected to the Internet via a 90 Mbps
circuit. Peering arrangements with local Internet service providers insure less stress on
the out-of-state Internet links. For example the UMS network connects directly with
Adelphia cable, so that signals from cable modem users in Bangor and Augusta don’t
need to transverse the Internet in Boston.

Network Maintenance and Support: A system-wide service, UNET, provides technology
support for the ITV system through the Network Operations Center (approximately 10
staff) in Orono. The hardware platforms are located on the computer (mainframe) floor
and monitored by the Computer Operations staff.

Course Management Software: Centrally the UMS runs the Blackboard system (version
5.5.1, level 2) on two Linux servers using Oracle as the relational database management
system. The hardware platforms are Four-processor (Xeon) computers with 4GB of
RAM.
                                                                                           4


Helpdesk Services and Staffing: UNET operates a helpdesk that is open 7:00 AM –
10:00 PM Monday-Friday, and 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM Saturday. Through an 800 number
students can reach technical support to report troubles or ask for assistance in using
course management software. Four individuals staff the help desk. A Teleservice
department staffed by 2 individuals is also available during normal business hours to
assist students in solving problems or identifying resources.

Security: The Blackboard system is provided the same full level of physical and
computer security that is afforded any operational system managed by UNET computer
operations. A very restricted number of staff administer the system. Students access the
Blackboard system through a password-protected account. These accounts are set up on
an automated process based on assigned email accounts, and students use an activation
code to create their password.

Backups: The Blackboard system is backed up on a daily basis.


Partners:

University College of the University Maine System
E-mail: teleservice@maine.edu

Mt. Wachussett Community College: (MWCC)
444 Green Street
Gardiner, MA 01440

UMA and MWCC hold a formal agreement that allows MWCC to promote UMA’s
Library and Information Program to regional students and provide general education
course and non-library electives for participants.

Highline Community College (HCC)
2400 South 240th Street
Des Moines, WA 98198

HCC and UMA hold a formal agreement that allows HCC students to transfer to UMA as
full-fledged juniors into the UMA BS in Library and Information Technology Program.
UMA offers the only online baccalaureate degree program in the country specifically
designed for library support staff .
                                                                                           5




                             2. Curriculum and Instruction

The initial Associate of Science in Library and Information Technology program is best
described as UMA’s response to a consumer need. In 1993, the Continuing Education
Committee of the Maine Library Association asked UMA to help them standardize
education and training for library support staff in Maine. At the time the Masters in
Library Science (MLS) was the standard professional credential, and there were no
graduate or undergraduate library programs in Maine. After creating an advisory board
for the program and consulting with librarians across the state, UMA knew it had enough
support to move ahead. The advisory board represented MLS librarians, distance
educators, state library leaders, a representative from the Maine State Library and several
library support staff within the profession.

The first pilot version of the Library Tech associate degree was delivered in 1994 on
UMA’s statewide ITV system to approximately 30 “receive” locations within the state.
Time slot availability and early small enrollments forced staff to consider asynchronous
delivery modes. This first asynchronous in 1996 version included prepackaged video
lectures mailed anywhere in Maine or the USA accompanied by a “coursepak” of
readings and directions for participating in the ListServ discussion process. That version
lasted for about three years until the University System purchased and began supporting
the Blackboard instructional and computer conferencing software. Since then, with a few
exceptions for essential basic task instruction, videos have all but disappeared. We
anticipate the streaming of audio and video images over the Internet as the next iteration.
Those options are now in their infancy with two instructors streaming video and another
planned for spring semester 2003. Students who do not have high bandwidth access, can
receive compact discs from the bookstore as an alternative delivery method. In the
future, as more cost effective bandwidth reaches rural areas, video streaming will expand
significantly.

The Library Information and Technology Associate Degree program proposal was
developed and sent through the on-campus and University System approval process. It
earned approval within six months of initiation, a record for the usual “glacial” university
pace. The process for the baccalaureate degree was essentially the same with the added
advantage of several years of successful associate degree delivery and a cadre of students
clamoring for the baccalaureate degree.

Along the way, UMA faculty and staff presented at national conferences and state library
meetings around the country, and learned that not only was UMA’s associate degree in
good company as one of about 50 degrees nationally, but also that UMA’s associate
degree offering was one of the few available at a distance. Additionally, UMA learned
that no one in the country was offering the baccalaureate degree online. At about the
same time that UMA’s program went online, the library profession began waking up to
the fact that 50 plus percent of its professionals, part of the baby-boomer group, would be
retiring within 10 years. That same analysis indicated that even at enrollment capacity,
                                                                                             6


the existing MLS programs could not produce enough librarians to meet the pending
need. That professional staffing problem has brought many in the American Library
Association to reconsider their emphasis on master’s level preparation. UMA is
currently involved in the national discussion on library “career ladders” and accrediting
undergraduate programs.

Learning outcomes for the associate and baccalaureate degrees, as well as each individual
LIB course, were established with input from advisory board members, and from study of
the national discussion on library curriculum. Demonstration of analysis, comprehension,
communication and effective research skills are all addressed in individual Library Tech
courses, and they all come together in the required capstone internship courses in each
program. (See UMA Library Program WebPages for details)

The UMA Library and Information Technology Programs deliver only the LIB courses
online. The programs were designed to allow incoming students to transfer existing
college credits in or earn them at regionally accredited institutions worldwide. In Maine,
students are able to take core and elective courses via the UMS ITV System or by taking
face-to-face courses at any of the seven campuses or 12 University College Educational
Centers.

The Program requires that the UMA’s transfer office and the Program Coordinator
approve the transfer courses, and that they meet the general education or major
requirements. Students must take 30 credit hours with UMA to meet its residency
requirement for the BS and 15 for the AS Degree. The Coordinator must approve all
“away” courses ahead of time, and relevant documentation is placed in the student’s
individual file. UMA’s Arts and Humanities Dean has been especially helpful in
evaluating whether variously named courses from “away,” suggested by students, meet
the UMA Humanities’ requirement.

The Library and Information Technology Programs are coherent and complete. That is
not to say they are perfect. Changes continue to be made to accommodate professional
recommendations, student needs and alterations made in UMA’s general education
requirements. The latest curricular changes include the addition of a writing intensive
course requirement, part of the new UMA Core, and a change from a Computer
Department programming course to a specific Library Technology Computer
Applications course (LIB 325.) These changes resulted from faculty and student
recommendations collected annually, and were approved through the UMA College and
University curriculum approval processes.

All materials used by the students are available online, are sent to them by the bookstore,
directly accessed online from Off-Campus Library Services, or are loaned by the
Coordinator. In the last category are the Sears and Dewey Series, reference guides used
for the cataloging course. Students in this program have a very strong respect for library
materials and return them without loss or problem. That may change in the future and if
it does, UMA is prepared to ask for a refundable deposit at the beginning of the course to
cover lost materials.
                                                                                           7



Three individuals, as well as the faculty manage program oversight. Dean Grace Leonard
of the College of Natural and Social Sciences is the academic leader and advocate for the
program at the Provost’s level and is known across the state for her development of
academic programs, especially for the state’s Departments of Mental Health and Human
Services. Coordinator Jean Thomas holds a Masters of Library Science and has many
years of library education and administrative library experience. She serves as student
advisor, and curricular specialist and is also Assistant Dean of UMA Libraries. Dean of
Libraries and Instructional Support Tom Abbott assists with administrative and distance
education issues. Dean Abbott holds his Ph.D. in Higher Education Management and is
nationally recognized for his work in developing off-campus library services programs,
distance education, program evaluation and accreditation issues. These individuals meet
on a regular basis to address curricular and policy issues. Faculty feedback is received via
e-mail discussion and annual meetings held at UMA.

Occasionally, student assistants support coordination and advising for the Program.
These individuals are select senior students who have demonstrated excellence and an
understanding of UMA students and the faculty members’ teaching methods. They come
recommended by Library Tech faculty members. The students’ assigned tasks are at a
level commensurate with their ability. Peer advising is used widely and effectively at
UMA.

All program requirements are spelled out on the UMA Library Tech WebPages. All
UMA students receive a program checksheet at the time of their admission and their
successful completion of graduation requirements is based on this document. If a
checksheet changes in the course of a student’s matriculation, she or he may select to
move to the new checksheet or remain with the original. Students learn about course
offerings online, and because courses fill quickly, the majority of them register within the
first week of availability using toll-free telephone nationwide numbers.

The students’ minimum technology requirements are spelled out on the UNET/University
College’s introductory WebPage and are compatible with our students’ computers.
Because Maine is a rural and relatively poor state, UMA is very sensitive to students’
resource needs. Accordingly, the introduction of streaming video has been slow, and
where it is used, alternative CD formats are available. Course scheduling continues to
expand with demand in numbers. This fall (2002) UMA added two additional sections of
introductory courses to satisfy students on waiting lists. Most courses are available at
least once every year with many being offered each semester.

Due to the unique nature of the Program and the option for students to take general
education courses elsewhere, our partners are very important. UMA’s consortial partners
are regionally accredited institutions of higher education. Their non-financial based
support for UMA’s Library and Information Technology Program is that of a marketing
partner in a distinct region of the country. Mt. Wachussett, Community College advisors
direct interested regional students to UMA’s Library and Information Technology
Program, and then assist them with registration for MWCC courses that satisfy UMA’s
                                                                                             8


general education requirements. At Highline Community College, their associate degree
Library graduates are encouraged to continue in Library Technology with UMA’s
baccalaureate program. This allows additional flexibility for students desiring a BS
degree without requiring them to move to another school.

With this type of partnership, quality control lies with the faculty of these accredited
institutions rather than with UMA. While UMA actively monitors the curriculum of our
two-plus-two partner, the real confirmation of quality lies in how well their students do in
UMA’s upper level Library courses. To date, the pilot project with Highline has been
successful, and led us to pursue similar opportunities with other two-year Library
Technology programs.

Online programs such as UMA’s Library and Information Technology Program require a
new way of teaching. Faculty and students find many more ways to directly interact.
Getting used to this new teaching methodology has been interesting and a great deal of
work, but faculty members have clearly risen to the occasion.

The interaction between student and instructor is being managed better today than when
online delivery began. In one of the first online classes of 30, a faculty member had 700
e-mails in one week. Since that time, guidelines regarding the type and quality of
communication have been implemented, and students are encouraged to work in groups.
The volume of interaction between faculty and students has come down to a reasonable
level and students are doing as well or better. Faculty workloads are manageable and
instructional creativity has increased. Faculty members have learned how to better utilize
Blackboard “discussions” and small group activities allow students to work
independently without faculty intervention. When “chat” opportunities are available
(similar work schedules, time zones etc.) faculty find that students enjoy the live
synchronous interaction and take full advantage of the time.

Students use roaming toll-free numbers to contact their faculty members at home or
offices across the country. They also regularly communicate toll-free with Off-Campus
Library Services, Tech Support, the bookstore etc. Faculty members are reimbursed for
returning long distance calls, but are encouraged to use more cost effective e-mail.

Coordinator Jean Thomas monitors student feedback on an ongoing basis and addresses
concerns with faculty members directly or with the faculty as a whole via e-mail. In two
cases, part-time faculty members were not rehired after efforts to correct deficiencies in
performance were unsuccessful. Student evaluations and unsolicited feedback indicate
that the program is hugely successful.
                                                                                          9


                                   3. Faculty Support

The University of Maine at Augusta is part of the University of Maine System and as
such conforms to the Maine Labor Relations Act which, when it was created, established
five collective bargaining units for university employees. Full and part-time faculty
members are represented by their own collective bargaining organizations and maintain
separate contracts with the University System.

Faculty workload, compensation and ownership of intellectual property are all matters for
negotiation and are covered in the collective bargaining agreements. In addition to the
salaries mandated by the part-time faculty collective bargaining agreement, UMA has
added a semester stipend to support at-home computer connections, and awards for
course development or revision. UMA caps enrollment at 30 in all online courses to
recognize the high degree of student-faculty interaction present in all online courses.

This year all faculty members in the Library and Information Technology Program will
be involved in a newly inaugurated program evaluation process led by Dr. Johan Koren,
the Program’s one-year Libra Fellow, a University System annual award to UMA. Until
this year, UMA’s program reviews were conducted by one or more individuals associated
with a program and followed a set of data requirements and questions that needed to be
answered. These reports were determined to be ineffective at stimulating or supporting
program improvement. Alternatively, UMA is now developing an outcome assessment
process, and the Library and Information Technology Program will be one of the first to
participate. Dr. Koren, in the first month of his fellowship is confirming program goals,
desired outcomes, measurements and methods of measurement. He will develop a draft
assessment framework in concert with faculty and administrative staff this fall, and in the
spring semester conduct the data collection and analysis to determine exactly how well
the program is performing. The Library Tech Assessment will serve as a model for other
UMA academic programs.

In course development and faculty support, faculty members participate in training
programs offered annually by UNET/University College, and have access to instructional
designers also provided by UNET/University College. The results of these activities
include several new courses and revisions of existing courses, all including the latest
additions to Blackboard. Additionally, the UMA Distance Education Council provides
financial support for course development and revision. UMA faculty members may
apply for a range of awards from their incentive fund. Unfortunately, budget reductions
in the past few years have required that routine maintenance and upgrading of existing
online courses be paid from this fund as well as new initiatives. UMA is currently
examining alternatives to paying faculty stipends for online course development. Central
to this new idea is the use of “release time” as the incentive rather than stipends. This
tact would free the current course development budget for stipends of major overhauls of
existing courses.

University College instructional designers work with all University System faculty
members who teach online. The instructional designers are part of the same organization
                                                                                         10


that manages Blackboard, as well as the entire computer network of the University of
Maine System, so consistency and currency of information are high. Training programs
are held regularly for faculty, and e-mailed announcements, FAQ pages and toll free
access to the instructional designers round out the package. Faculty participation in
training activities is significant and Program staff receive excellent feedback. Mentoring
among faculty also plays an important role in the continuous improvement of the
program.


                                   4. Student Support

UMA’s commitment to the Library and Information Technology Program is best
demonstrated by the regular play it receives in presidential discussions about the future.
Dr. Charles Lyons, President of UMA, is asking why other niche program are not moving
more quickly to the same type of online delivery options for their distant students. Online
courses are growing faster than any other course delivery mode across the University
System. In the fall semester of 2000, there were 53 online courses offered by the seven
University campuses and this fall, there are 99.

While UMA is committed to hiring tenure track faculty members for the Lib Tech
Program in the near future, it has done an excellent job in hiring and monitoring its
adjunct faculty member in the interim. Our adjunct faculty members are or have been
library professionals. Our entire faculty hold at least a Masters degree in Library Science
or a related field. This year UMA hired a Ph.D. in the field through out Libra Fellowship
Program to teach, and assist with the coordination, planning and assessment of the
program.

Both the associate and baccalaureate degree programs fill a national and statewide need,
and as long as the students continue to enroll in large numbers at UMA to earn their
degrees, the programs will continue. UMA is committed to making sure all students who
enter the program have the ability to complete it within a reasonable period of time.
Students can progress through the Program on a part or full-time basis. Hiring of full-
time faculty members to anchor the Program will certainly demonstrate this commitment
and assure Program excellence.

Prospective students learn about the Library and Information Technology Programs at
UMA by word of mouth from colleagues and library professionals, through an assortment
of ListServes that UMA contributes to, through presentations provided by UMA at state
and national meetings across the country, and by searching the World Wide Web and
locating our program. All UMA programs are listed in national directories for distance
education program and all available information is accurate and current.

The Lib Tech WebPages provide an overview of the program including program costs,
curriculum, goals, and the minimum technology requirements for each student.
UNET/University Colleges provides a student orientation to taking online courses, and
that is available for our students. UMA advisors at all locations are being trained to
                                                                                          11


interview prospective students regarding their readiness for the independence of online
courses.

With one exception, students in this Program are admitted through the same admission
process used for other UMA students. The added component for Library Tech students is
a personal phone call or e-mail communication from Jean Thomas, the Program
Coordinator. During this call or contact, Jean reviews the process of course delivery and
questions the individual about his or her readiness. A noticeable and relatively consistent
dropout rate from online courses has led us to scrutinize our screening process and
tighten up the counseling efforts during admissions. Studies indicate that between 20 and
25 percent of course registrants drop before the course is completed. This number has
been consistent for three years, is similar to national numbers, and certainly bears further
scrutiny. The Program also shows a loss from those being admitted against those
continuing to completion. This data is being analyzed.

Retention issues will be considered as staff and faculty members pursue the program
assessment process this year. Common sense suggests that improving retention will be a
priority for the program review process. It is unclear at this point why so many students
leave classes before completion, and whether some of the loss of students in the pipeline
result from them accomplishing their objectives prior to graduation.

UMA delivers distance education courses to up to 2500 students each semester, and has
for almost fifteen years. UMA prides itself on being a leader in distance education and
with the support of its delivery partner, UNET/University Colleges, effectively delivers
an assortment of support services including: online library access to a complete library
collection and reference librarians; online course listings and registration; standard
Blackboard infrastructure for all courses using an online component, orientation, online
bookstore; online grades and academic history; FAQ pages, and helpdesk support; access
to UMA website information including toll-free numbers for students to reach faculty and
staff members and the UMA Student Handbook containing all student related policies,
e.g., the UMA Grievance Policy.

After fifteen years of serving distance students, UMA continues to adjust and refine
policies and procedures based on feedback from students, faculty, and staff. The most
recent improvement was the expansion of helpdesk hours to 79 hours a week. Also,
weekly ITV tutoring sessions in mathematics were added recently. An online version of
this tutoring model for students who do not have access to ITV receive locations is under
development.

Plans for serving students with documented qualifying disabilities are developed on a
case-by-case basis. The technology and flexibility built into the online delivery systems
sometimes helps to ameliorate the impact of disabilities on learning. At UMA, our most
common accommodations provided involve time, special seating or separate testing.
These are typically non-issues in asynchronous courses. Some early WebPages were not
compatible with the adaptive software, and we have learned to screen up front for this
compatibility. Other needs are handled, as they would be in a live course. For example,
                                                                                            12


in web-based courses that use videotapes, we provide interpreting services for our
hearing impaired students.

Online students do not have access to all of their required UMA courses online. As noted
above, only the Library and Information Technology courses are guaranteed online.
Some general education and elective courses are available and more are planned to
permit students to complete both UMA degrees online. UMA routinely recommends
other University System online courses to Lib Tech students. If particular UMA core
courses are not offered online, students are allowed to take general education courses and
electives from any regionally accredited institution in the world, with prior authorization
from UMA.

The main problem identified by the students in the program is speed of response from the
Coordinator and the transfer officer. UMA has agreed to add at least one full-time faculty
member as its top priority as soon as the budget permits. Additional budget requests
include a half-time support person who can field routine calls, prepare mailings to
prospective students, and help with filing. These changes should help address these
identified problems and improve Program quality.

Additional areas being expanded on are development of online placement testing for
students who have had no prior college experience. UMA’s Library Tech Program does
offer a one-credit Information Literacy course online for all students who need additional
support in this area. Information and library use instruction are integral components of
both the AS and BS programs and therefore are not taught separately.

The UMA Bookstore has a fully operational website used by many students whether or
not they take online courses. Orders placed via the Web are shipped directly to the
student within 24 hours as long as the required text is in the warehouse.

As anyone in higher education can imagine, building a college community is the most
difficult task of the entire process of online education. UMA and UNET/University
Colleges have taken this challenge very seriously. For the in-state Distance Education
students, 10 Centers and 85 receive sites (usually high schools) are strategically located
around the state and provide local contact points for students. Some attend face-to-face
and ITV classes at Centers, and make use of computer labs, advising staff and cultural
activities.

Two years ago UMA developed a Student Government Association for distance students,
one of four participating units (Augusta, Bangor, Lewiston-Auburn and Distance
Students) of the UMA General Assembly. Participation of DE students thus far has been
limited, and it has been difficult to sustain officers. There will be a strengthened effort
this year to bring the fledging organization to life so it can represent all distance students.
Already this fall, an ITV meeting attracted 53 distance students to a Student Government
information session.
                                                                                         13


For online students there are limited opportunities to come together physically. The
Coordinator has been successful in promoting regional meetings, usually social, for
students in California, Florida and North Carolina. Online with the use of Blackboard
discussion groups, students work together successfully on course projects and topical
discussions. There is also an informal chat and e-mail capability which students take
advantage of to interact socially. At last year’s UMA graduation 19 graduates came
together in Maine. Students from Florida, Massachusetts, Maine and Arizona attended.
During visits to relatives in Florida, Jean Thomas has met with students at two
community colleges to help promote student connections.

All students link to individual faculty members during their courses via individual
discussion forums. When messages to all students need to be sent, the Coordinator sends
the information to all faculty members, and they relay the message to all the students.
The Coordinator can also communicate with all students through another ListServ just for
students. All students in the Program understand and value e-mail as the primary mode of
communication.

Students with problems communicate with their instructors, the Coordinator, the
bookstore, other University offices and the helpdesk as needed. Jean Thomas provides
mediation support for faculty and students, as needed; she advocates for students with
other UMA departments and serves as the information broker for all UMA information
needing to reach students. Feedback from students is ongoing with an end of term
evaluation form completed by students in each class. The Coordinator and the Dean of
the College review these.

Financial Aid is available to students matriculated in the Library Tech Programs. The
Student Financial Aid Office works with online students in the same way they do with on
campus students. The one wrinkle we are aware of is that some UMA students awarded
financial aid have attempted to use that aid at their local higher education institution
where they may be taking non-library courses. By federal regulations, this is not possible
unless UMA has a written agreement with the other school. Writing agreements for one
student at a time has been deemed impractical, but agreements are being considered
where a group of students takes courses toward a UMA degree at a single institution.

In summary, it is fair to say that UMA has been highly successful in providing the
rudiments of an online college community, but that more needs to be done. The Library
and Information Technology Program is UMA’s first attempt at an online program, after
many years delivering ITV courses to Maine students. UMA believes the model for
supporting the ITV students now managed by UNET/University Colleges is exceptional,
both in staffing and services and can be translated to support online students. In the next
few years, UMA will expand online programming and continue to find new ways to
support and involve students. Based on student feedback, the Library and Information
Technology Program is a huge success and is meeting the needs of its students.
                                                                                      14


                            5. Evaluation and Assessment

UMA Library and Information Technology faculty members evaluate the effectiveness of
their courses by evaluating student performance on tests, written documents and course
participation and contribution. Each course has established learning objectives that
support and build toward the Program’s objectives. They form the basis for instruction as
well as evaluation. UMA includes online programs, in this case, only the Library Tech
Program, in the University program review process. This year with the help of Dr. Johan
Koren, the program will undergo a thorough program review. That report will be
completed by end of summer 2003 and included as a back up document for UMA’s 2005
NEASC Re-accreditation visit.

UMA faculty use an assortment of techniques to ascertain that the students registered in
each course are the ones who actually participate in the evaluation processes. Among
them are time-limited tests, given at specific times, comparing written submissions with
the student’s online participation, review of student writing against online plagiarism
prevention tools, personal contact with each student by the faculty and coordinator and
proctored exams. UNET/University Colleges continues to develop policies and processes
to assure integrity of student work. To date, there have been no incidents of suspected
cheating.

Each UMA student, whether online or taking classes face-to-face, is assigned a computer
access identification and password. Secure assigned ID’s and passwords are required to
access Blackboard and to access student grades or schedule courses. This information is
tightly controlled by UNET/University Colleges, which manages all University System
computing. The University Registrar’s Office manages all UMA student records and
follows the standard practices of AACRAO. Faculty members use individual e-mail to
send test results and personal feedback to the students.

Continuous feedback from students is collected by faculty members and the Coordinator
and is shared with both Deans and the Provost as appropriate. This information is used to
revise and adjust the curriculum, make policy changes and recommend changes to UMA
at large and UNET/University Colleges. Christine LeGore, the Associate Director,
Academic and Student Support Services, for UNET/University Colleges sits on the UMA
Provost’s Staff as a means of linking her unit’s support of distance education students
with academic policies and practices.

UNET/University Colleges administers an online evaluation of faculty, the course and the
technology and support system. All feedback is shared with Program staff and is used to
make changes and improvements.

One of the values of teaching students across the country is that they come to UMA with
diverse and different experiences and from technological systems with varying degrees of
maturity. These students share their experiences with each other and are not at all shy
about making suggestions to faculty members and the Coordinator. These suggestions
will be factored into the program review process as it evolves this year.
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Assessment of core curriculum skills and values takes place in an informal way with
faculty members giving feedback when students need writing support or have difficulty
understanding some aspect of the individual course. During the 80-hour Program
internship (120 hours for the BS), students work with onsite supervisors in a library
environment and “meet” with their UMA Program faculty member weekly. Feedback
during the internship from both the site supervisor and through phone and e-mail
correspondence with the UMA instructor is collected and evaluated against the outcomes
of the Program. If on the rare occasion the student has not met the expectations set forth
in the Program outcomes, the student would not receive a passing grade on the internship
and would fail to graduate. Additionally her or his opportunity for future
recommendations for work may be limited. This worst-case scenario has not yet
happened, and the Coordinator feels that students who cannot perform adequately are
counseled out of the Program long before the final internship.

The history of the UMA Library and Information Technology Programs demonstrates
that continuous assessment does indeed result in improvements. Moving from ITV sent
to fixed sites in Maine, to videotaped instruction with e-mail discussions, then to online
courses delivered worldwide shows clearly how the Program staff and faculty have taken
advantage of new technologies and made the Program available to students who
otherwise would not have such a degree opportunity. Faculty members participate each
year in a UNET/University Colleges workshop dedicated to sharing best practices for
teaching at a distance, and take advantage of the instructional designers on staff to make
the best of their teaching efforts.

This year’s program review will include all aspects of the Program’s success including,
whether program and course outcomes are being achieved, how to improve the retention
problem, and how to connect students can more effectively UMA and to each other to
strengthen the online university community. As noted above, ongoing assessment has
determined that this financially successful program needs a larger budget to support its
worldwide activities and certainly adding one or more full-time faculty members to the
Program in the next two years is essential for its continuation. The program review
conducted this year will provide the hard evidence for those requests.

Program review documents and recommendations from staff and faculty members are
sent forward to the Provost’s Staff for discussion and recommendations from there go to
the president and ultimately the UMA Budget Committee. Recommendations on
curricular changes go to the College of Natural and Social Sciences, the UMA
Curriculum Committee, as appropriate to the UMA Faculty Senate, and finally to the
Provost.
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                                    Closing Summary

Clearly, UMA’s experiment with asynchronous online education in this global library
support staff niche market has been successful. The Program was designed and built
based on well-documented consumer need, and has filled a professional need in the
library world. Some of all success can usually be attributed to being in the right place at
the right time. UMA’s Library and Information Technology Program is no exception.
UMA entered the market when new technology was raising training needs, when “baby-
boomer” professional librarians began retiring in large numbers, and when the newness
of online education made participation intriguing and practical for busy library
employees. UMA’s history of success in distance learning in Maine, and our ability to
take advantage of the excellent technical infrastructure built by the University of Maine
System came together to create a synergy to make the Program a great success.

This year’s program review will be a thoughtful reflection about all of the Program’s
components, including the structure and purpose of the curriculum and the application of
technologies to enhance learning. We all anticipate making improvements as a result of
the study. UMA’s Provost and President are committed to finding ways to add one or
more tenure track faculty members to the Program as the next faculty priority; and the
part-time adjunct faculty who are the heart and sole of the Program continue to perform
extremely well.

UMA is proud to have expanded the tradition of serving distance learners begun in 1985,
and looks forward to continuing to grow and change as we meet a global need for library
and information technology education. Should there be unanswered questions as you
read this report we are happy to answer them for you, and we look forward to your
reactions.

Respectfully Submitted by Dr. Thomas E. Abbott, Ph.D.

								
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