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Instructional Technology


The mission of the SUNY Delhi Distance Learning Program is to provide access to quality, student centered higher educational opportunities that will develop well-rounded leaders and critical thinkers who can solve problems in an increasingly complex, dynamic, and global society.

Strategic Vision and Planning Information

Six factors to consider when planning and developing an online distance learning program: (1) strategic vision (2) curriculum, (3) staff training and support, (4) student services, (5) student training and support, and (6) copyright and intellectual property.

A strategic vision is important in order to help develop, implement, and sustain a successful online program. Effective strategic planning for online learning is comprised of the following

  • alignment with institutional mission and vision ( Successful online programs embrace the institutional mission and are designed to advance it.  The primary strategic consideration in planning online programs, therefore, is aligning the mission of the online program with the long-term institutional mission. An online strategic plan must embrace the institutional direction and move with it into he future as the institution embraces online learning as central to its long-term success.)
  • market potential (whether the online program will be supplementing campus-based instruction or attracting new student populations.  The former requires high quality online instruction but not complete or strategically planned programs; it also generates little new revenue to the institution. Programming for new student populations requires  consideration of potential markets in the context of institutional strengths and market saturation. Institutional branding has to be considered.  Many institutions are well-known and sufficiently branded in their local communities.  Distance education programs, however, require brand recognition by much larger populations spanning broad geographic regions.  An institution has to determine if the online program will share the institution's brand or craft a related but unique brand as well as ways of extending brand recognition to desired student populations.)
  • requisite organizational change including considerations of institutional support (If the leadership is committed to a long-term online endeavor, the organization has to determine what current practices have to change to develop, launch, and sustain an online program. Organizational barriers to effective online learning also have to be considered.  What  structural elements, institutional priorities, operations, or resource limitations might present obstacles to successful online initiatives?  What student services are not currently available at a distance, and what systemic changes would be necessary?
  • implementation including policies, procedures, expectations, and accountability (Any successful program needs clarity to assure equality among all participants, quality
    programming, and guidelines for sustaining a program over time.  A process needs to be in place to assure strict adherence to copyright laws.  Ownership and compensation  are issues that can derail online efforts, so polices and processes have to be clearly defined in the planning process.  Who owns the courses, what people will be paid for course development and teaching, faculty load, course size, and tenure and promotion decisions are all critical issues in a strategic planning process.  Policies have to be negotiated and procedures have to be in place to assure the policies are enforced.)
  • quality assurance (Regardless of the specific department, each online course has to reflect the academic integrity of the institution and has to focus on student success.  To accomplish this, the institution needs to develop guidelines for the course development process, a maturity cycle, and approval processes for courses and programs. )
  • financial planning models. (Both obvious and hidden costs are involved in online programming.  Chief among them is the cost of keeping technology current; providing sufficient support for all faculty, students, and staff regardless of where or when they study; competitive and ongoing marketing efforts.  Consideration of start-up, maintenance, and growth costs have to be evaluated against projected revenue gains.  Careful planning that balances tuition and other revenue projections against projected costs over time and in the context of institutional and programmatic goals has to drive online development.)

Potential audience/market:

  • continuing education (area professionals, U.S. area professionals, worldwide),
  • degree programs (worldwide),
  • current (residential) Delhi students (for scheduling, seat time, or limited facility purposes),
  • area high school students (pre-college programs, dual credit programs),
  • collaboration with other institutions offering complimentary degrees (i.e. AA from Mohawk Valley in Turf Management, BA from Delhi, MA from Penn State)
  • Offering online courses to residential or currently enrolled students will most likely generate a modest amount of new tuition revenues or involve lower financial risks while offering an online program to working professionals carries much greater potential financial risks and rewards.
  • If residential and online programs run parallel to each other but serve two different student populations, should both programs be treated differently from one another? Should they have the same admission and curriculum/degree requirements? Should there be different faculty teaching in the online program than those teaching the residential program?
  • How do courses and programs? get chosen to be developed for online? By instructor? Dean? Provost? Other?

Potential Goals: (largely from or more specifically this PDF:

  • increase student access
  • grow continuing and/or professional education
  • attract students from outside the traditional service area
  • provide pedagogic improvements
  • increase rate of degree completion
  • improve enrollment management responsiveness
  • enhance value of college brand
  • strengthen academic continuity in case of disaster
  • improve student retention
  • increase strategic partnerships with other institutions
  • optimize physical plant utilization
  • enhance alumni and donor outreach
  • increase the diversity of student body
  • reduce or contain costs
  • augment faculty recruitment and retention
  • revenue only? (area professionals, continuuing ed.)
  • relieve space/scheduling issues? (overfilled classes can still be offered online)
  • enrollment enrichment?
  • Some research results are in support of in-residence components as they show that social isolation is perceived to be a big problem for online students. Such research also indicates that student orientation to online courses and student socialization with other online students greatly affects their success in the online program. On the other hand, for some potential students, an in-residence requirement might offset the attraction of online education as being highly flexible.

Potential strategies/differentiating points:

  • media rich courses (videos for hands-on step-by-step self-paced portable learning)
  • identify similar/competing online colleges, programs, courses

Portions adapted from:
Critical Design and Administrative Issues in Online Education:
Sustainable Success: Aligning Online Program Development with Institutional Priorities:


SUNY Delhi has offered courses online since (year). A WebCT server was purchased and installed in (year) along with a [], which creates a corresponding WebCT course shell for all courses, and automatically enrolls all students and instructors to their WebCT courses. Most of these courses are "web-enhanced" - they offer portions of the course online, such as discussion boards, lecture notes, and communication tools, but do not feature reduced time in the physical classroom (as hybrid courses do). Delhi began offering fully online courses with WebCT in (year) and with the SUNY Learning Network (SLN - SUNY Learning Network) in (year).       

Dennis Callas:
WebCT was chosen over a two year period, starting with the HUD award.  The Provosts and Presidents of the COTs could not agree on a single course management system.  I thought we would go with SLN, but no one in the tech sector was in favor of this.  Their reason was primarily that SLN at the time was not a course management system -- you either were online or not; SLN didn't work well with hybrid approaches.  So the decision came down to WebCT or Blackboard.  I chose WebCT because I felt that it had the most to offer, realizing that it had a steeper learning curve than Blackboard -- but at Delhi we only hire people that are good looking and have above average IQs.


Addition of online activities that enhance the traditional brick and mortar classroom. This may include posting lecture notes or PowerPoint presentations online, class discussion, email, instant messaging, visiting and utilizing website resources, etc. Classes which meet face-to-face and also utilize certain aspects of WebCT, SLN or another Learning Management System are not considered "hybrid" unless there is a reduction in seat time. (See below.)

A true hybrid course is a blend of modalities, not just an addition of online activities; in which sense the course would simply be considered web-enhanced rather than hybrid. As stated by Rovai and Jordan, "Blended learning is a hybrid of classroom and online learning that includes some of the conveniences of online courses without the complete loss of face-to-face contact." (2004).  Therefore, according to the research, in order for a course to be designed as truly hybrid, the online learning and activities should replace some of the face-to-face class time.  This is accomplished in a variety of ways including substituting a regularly scheduled class time each week with online learning or by meeting face-to-face one week in the beginning of the course, one week in the middle and one week at the end with online activities in between.  In reference to the combining of distance education with traditional learning, Graham Spanier, president of Penn State University stated: "I believe this to be among the most significant unacknowledged trends in higher education." (2001)

Benefits to hybrid learning include maintaining a sense of community (often lost in online courses and therefore contributing to attrition rates), exposing more students to the online learning environment (preparing students for the global economy), as well as providing an institutional benefit of allowing flexibility in classroom scheduling.  

Fully online courses are those which can be taken by a student any where, any time - with no requirement for face-to-face contact. The design, development, and delivery of online courses involves pedagogy, strategies and technologies which may vary drastically from traditional classrooms.

Traditionally, in a teacher-centered classroom, instructors control their environment because they have a monopoly on information. In an online course, with instant access to vast resources of data and information, students are no longer totally dependent on faculty for knowledge. As faculty are beginning to teach online,  learning is becoming more collaborative, contextual and active. Educators must first design their curriculum, goals and objectives and then consider how the online environment can best serve the instructional objectives and activities of that curriculum.This requires changes in pedagogy, with instructors taking the role of facilitators of information while guiding students toward solutions. In order for online learning to be successful, teachers as well as learners must take on new roles in the teaching-learning relationship, and faculty must be willing to release control of learning to the students.

Online learning environments permit a full range of interactive methodologies, and  instructors have found that in adapting their courses to online models, they are paying more attention to the instructional design of their courses. As a result, the quality, quantity, and patterns of communication students practice during learning are improved.

Of the many instructional strategies available for use in the online learning environment, most have not been developed specifically for online instruction, but are currently used in traditional classrooms, and can be successfully adapted for facilitating online learning.

-portions from: 





Manager of Online Educational Technology (reports to Chief Information Officer)


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1 Comment

  1. Here's an article from Educause on "The Future of Online Learning"