What is online education?
Online Education Characteristics
The Higher Education Opportunity Act (2008) provides further definition of online education.
- It is education that “uses one or more” technologies—”(i) the Internet; (ii) one-way and two-way transmissions through open broadcast, closed circuit, cable, microwave, broadband lines, fiber optics, satellite, or wireless communications devices; (iii) audio conferencing; (iv) video cassettes, DVDs, and CD–ROMs, if the cassettes, DVDs, or CD– ROMs are used in a course in conjunction with any of the technologies listed in clauses (i) through (iii).”
- It delivers “instruction to students who are separated from the instructor.”
- It supports “regular and substantive interaction between the students and the instructor, synchronously or asynchronously” (Higher Education Opportunity Act, 2008, emphasis added).
eCampus and Online Education at Boise State
At Boise State, eCampus is the term used to categorize instruction where an academic class/program is “delivered” using technology to bridge a location difference or distance between the instructor and student for most or all of the class.
The eCampus tagline of “We Bring the Blue to You” means that we bring “The Blue” to our students who choose to learn online by giving them a sense of community, respect, passion, and quality through online learning. Instructors who teach eCampus courses achieve regular and substantive interaction through a combination of asynchronous and synchronous activities.
Synchronous and Asynchronous Activities
Asynchronous activities are not “real-time” while synchronous activities are in “real-time.” Students expect asynchronous activities while enrolled in an online class. If your course has synchronous activities, contact the eCampus Center and we will add a class note in the class registration system so students are properly forewarned.
Examples of asynchronous activities:
- Posting to a discussion board
- Reading or sending emails
- Watching an online video
- Listening to a recorded lecture
- Taking a quiz online
- Uploading assignments
Examples of synchronous activities:
- Chatting online with students or faculty
- Participating in a video conference
- Taking a proctored exam
- Attending an in-person lab session
NWCCU Standards Applicable to Online Education
Institutions accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) are expected to follow the Standards for Accreditation found at www.nwccu.org. Several standards pertain to the administration, development, and delivery of online education. In particular, several standards speak of programs and courses “wherever offered and however delivered.” (Updated 2010 by NWCCU)
For a complete list of accreditation standards that apply to online education see NWCCU Standards Applicable to Online Education.
For additional reading about online education, explore these additional sources.
- Carlson, C. S., Aust, P. J., Gainey, B. S., McNeill, S. J., Powell, T., & Witt, L. (2012, December). Which technology should I use to teach online?: Online technology and communication course instruction. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 8(4). Retrieved from http://jolt.merlot.org/vol8no4/carlson_1212.htm.
- Dell, C. A., Low, C., & Wilker, J. F. (2010). Comparing student achievement in online and face-to-face class formats. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 6(1). Retrieved from http://jolt.merlot.org/vol6no1/dell_0310.pdf
- Higher Education Opportunity Act, Pub L. No. 110-315. 122 STAT. 3078 (2008). Retrieved May 4, 2009, from http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-110publ315/pdf/PLAW-110publ315.pdf