SOLR:Content Strategies Opening Questions

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Question 1 - Does your institution have a strategic plan for educational technology and online learning?

A. Yes - 69%

B. No - 31%

Question 2 - Have you gone through a migration from one LMS platform to another?

A. Yes - 100%

B. No - 0%

Question 3 - How did your migration process go?

A. Quick and Easy - 7%

B. Challenging But Do-able - 64%

C. Difficult and Frustrating - 18%

D. Let us never speak of this again - 11%

Question 4 - How long did it take to migrate a course?

A. 2 hours or less - 36%

B. 2-4 hours - 12%

C. 4-8 hours -20%

D. 8 hours or less - 32%

Question 5 - Are you concerned about maintaining some indepedance from your LMS vendors?

A. Yes - 72%

B. No - 28%

Question 6 - Do you use content development practices that create content in such a way that it can be used in multiple LMS's? (or outside an LMS?)

A. Yes - 63%

B. No - 37%

Question 7 - What do you typically budget for creating a 3 credit online course?

A. $1,000-$10,000/course - 41%

B. $10,000-$20,000/course - 7%

C. $20,000-$40,000/course - 3%

D. >$40,000/course - 0%

E. We do not know the exact amount - 48%

Question 8 - Do you currently offer instructors (and students) choices in the online learning tools they can use?

A. Yes - 54%

B. No - 46%

Question 9 - How do you let your faculty know what their peers are doing? what online resources and best practices are at your institution?


Some examples of strategies used are:

  • Create a space for faculty in WebCT to share experiences and best practices
  • Separate web site for accessing and learning about tools faculty can use in their teaching
  • An online discussion forum
  • A showcase of exemplary courses
  • A one day intensive annual conference (73 % do a workshop or one day event)
  • Allow access to projects that are evolving - see work in progress
  • Hijack one of the faculty meetings to discuss best practices
  • Assign instructional designer to work on all distance education projects -- allows for consistency and cross pollination of ideas
  • Work of mouth

For some institutions practices differ depending on delivery model/department. For example a Distance Education department may have different practices than a support division for online courses. Also mixed-mode or hybrid courses may be treated different than online courses.

Question 10 - At your institution, are students able to access course content before they start a course?

A. Yes - 0%

B. No - 100%

Question 11 - Do you give your students access to courses after it has finished? After they have graduated?

A. Yes, until they graduate - 4%

B. Yes, also after they graduate - 14%

C. No - 79%


Only 6 hands were raised when asked who thought it was desirable to continue to give students access to courses. Once the questions was reframed to be about course content and not student-generated content and assessment then most hands went up. Here are some comments that followed this question:

  • It is important to separate the "assessment piece" from the content
  • Logistically it is difficult to administer
  • Students want their "portfolio" content and not necessary the entire course
  • Space is used by multiple iterations of the same course over time
  • One program provides access to archive threaded discussions going back 5-6 years. Newly enrolled students can access discussions that took place before them, but not future discussion.

Question 12 - What is the biggest problem facing you around developing and managing learning content?

A. Copyright - 10%

B. Instructional Design/Pedagogy - 30%

C. Maintenance, Updates and Revisions - 53%

D. Media Richness - 0%

E. Sharing and Reuse - 7%


Some of the issues mentioned were:

  • Cost. Revising a suite of courses uses up the budget very quickly.
  • Instructors personalize content that already exists. There are several iterations of each courses. Some instructors begin from scratch and don't use the existing versions of courses. It is difficult to manage this.
  • Instructors are reluctant to use what others have created. They like to take full ownership of the work.
  • Time and level of difficulty are primary considerations. Instructors are often unable to deal with maintenance.
  • Some Instructors have been firm that they are not willing to allow others to reuse their courses.
  • Authentication issues. If we use too many platforms/services there are too many demands on the help desk.
  • Each institution is different in how they handle who "owns" the work - institution or instructor. For example, one institution outlined this scenario: If the course is f2f then there is no contract over the content; it's the instructor's content. For distance education it is a different story. For DE the course development process is very regulated and the courses belong to the institution.
  • There is a desire to share media files across courses but there is currently no effective way of doing that.
  • Proliferation of courses can become a space management issue.
  • Textbook publishers often approach instructors directly and suggest IT dept will take care of integrating the courses with the publishers website. (Although not ideal, a solution is to provide one link to publishers website.)

Several solutions and general comments regarding course development were also offered:

  • One institution developed a major - minor revision strategy. All major revisions need to go through the curriculum committee.
  • It is important to respect individual contributions to work. Public sector pays for what educators work. It is a broader context of obligation other than the individual who developed the work.
  • The question of licensed content was discussed (i.e. course packs). It is cheaper to buy an e-pac than to pay release time for someone to develop.
  • There is a big difference between sharing as copy-paste and sharing as subscription.
  • We need strategies to encourage reuse of content.

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