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Value of online

The distance education fee explained

Student Life

By Ryan Howell

While most online courses take nine months to create, Memorial instructors had two weeks or less to transition in-person courses to remote courses due to the pandemic.

A CITL sign is hung on the wall outside a classroom.
The distance education fee, which applies to online courses only, is used to underwrite the cost of a wide range of services for students. Hybrid courses, which have both on-campus and remote components, will not be charged the fee.
Photo: Submitted

As Memorial transitions back to in-person learning for the fall 2021 semester, the differences between remote teaching and online courses will once again be distinct.

As a result, the distance education fee will be re-instated for online courses — a fee that was removed when campuses shut down in winter 2020 to adhere to public health guidelines and the university pivoted to a primarily remote teaching and learning environment.

Unlike remote courses, online courses are developed by faculty members in collaboration with the Centre for Innovation in Teaching and Learning (CITL).

“We want to ensure we have supports fully available to those who need it.” — Colleen Collett

The distance education fee, which applies to online courses only, is used to underwrite the cost of a wide range of services for students including technical support, handling and distribution of course materials, postage, examinations and other administration-related expenses.

Select courses, including those with an enrollment of more than 100 students, will remain remote for the fall 2021 semester, but will not be charged the distance education fee.

Hybrid courses, which have both on-campus and remote components, will also not be charged the fee.

Online vs. remote

The difference between online and remote courses is significant.

An online course is designed with instructional design experts, led by Ruth Hickey, manager of CITL’s learning design and development team.

Members of the team work with instructors to plan the course structure and any deliverables required to create a positive learning environment.

“At meeting number one, I quickly discovered the amazing team in CITL.” — Dr. Jan Buley

They also have expertise to provide advice on everything from learning outcomes and assessments to how course material is presented online.

With accessibility at the forefront, online course content is provided in multiple formats including videos, animations and games includes the video lectures captions. A complete transcript is also included.

“After the course is created, we will pilot it, which is essentially a first offering,” said Ms. Hickey.

“When the course is completed, we meet with the instructor and, based on their feedback, and the students’ feedback, determine what worked and what can be improved before re-launching the course.”

A student wearing a light brown coat sits at a computer at the library.
CITL has numerous resources for students, including a support team available seven days a week.
Photo: Submitted

A remote course is delivered online but designed and administered by the instructor themselves.

And while Brightspace is the learning management system that Memorial provides support for, remote courses can be delivered through other platforms, such as Zoom or YouTube, at the instructor’s discretion.

‘Amazing team’

Once an online course is developed, it’s transferred to CITL’s client relations team, which is led by Colleen Collett.

Her team is responsible for working with the instructor to ensure the course is ready to be unveiled and that they are comfortable with the online environment.

“When I entered into this adventure, I had no idea where to begin, having never created an online course before,” said Dr. Jan Buley, professor of education. “At meeting number one, I quickly discovered the amazing team in CITL.”

An online learning environment can be an adjustment for students, too. Ms. Collett’s team has resources for those students, including a support team available seven days a week.

“We want to ensure we have supports fully available to those who need it.”

With academic integrity being a priority, her team also arranges invigilation for examinations.

If a student lives within an 80 kilometre radius of one of Memorial’s campuses, they write their exams on campus, but if they live outside that radius, the student will be assigned a site for them to complete it with an invigilator arranged by CITL.

To learn more about CITL, visit their website.


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