Institutional Integration and Administration

AuthorRebecca Purdom - Greg Brandes - Karen Westwood
Chapter 7
Institutional Integration and Administration
Distance learning programs present managerial challenges, bringing new working processes, regulatory
requirements, response time, and the need to coordinate or re-think academic calendars. As schools plan
to launch online programs, they are sometimes surprised by how much previously unrelated departments
must coordinate. Planning ahead to integrate staffing, budgeting, administrative work flow, and student
needs will assure that programs launch and grow successfully.
This chapter addresses:
Teaching faculty. How do you staff online courses? How do staffing decisions impact
perceptions of the program?
Administrative integration. What offices will have to coordinate, communicate and develop
new work patterns to effectively support online programs?
Student support integration. What unique needs to distance learning students present, and
how do student support services best meet those needs?
Many institutions are currently considering the degree to which online offerings should be
interchangeable with, or integrated within, traditional residential offerings. In many non-JD degree
programs offered by law schools for example, LLMs, specialized masters programs, and post-graduate
certificate programsschools offer the same classes online and in residential formats, and students may
pick the session that best fits their needs. A few law schools, under variance from the ABA, have begun to
offer both online and residential versions of key classes. As integration of both JD and non-JD programs
increases, there are several curricular and management decisions to consider.
Teaching Faculty
Some schools employ their core residential faculty to develop and teach their online courses. These
schools feel that using core faculty protects the integrity of the brand and the quality of the course
content. By using long term faculty who have a known teaching reputation and a vested interest in the
institution, the school may feel that the integrity of the program is maintained.
Other schools almost exclusively use adjuncts to develop and teach online courses. Because adjuncts are
typically paid less than residential facultytenured faculty in particularthis decreases overall program
costs. However, the fluidity of adjunct teaching pools makes quality control more difficult and requires
additional management and oversight.

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