Online Learning Consortium Functions
- Learning Effectiveness
- Cost Effectiveness and Commitment
- Access of Programs
- Faculty Satisfaction
- Student Satisfaction
The main goal of the Online Learning Consortium is to advance quality online learning through five different functions. The OLC is a key factor in transforming the online education field through conferences, quality learning opportunities and tools designed for both institutional and individual success. Schools that belong to the OLC are part of a global community consisting of hundreds of institutions and companies that are dedicated to quality online learning. The Online Learning Consortium offers advisory services, online education scorecards, conferences, networking events and professional development designed to promote their five main functions.
One of the functions of the OLC is to confirm that an online education provider has learning outcomes that meet or exceed institutional, industry and community standards. The organization confirms academic integrity within the faculty that are ranked very similar to traditional programs at the same institution OLC uses direct assessment of student learning to determine if learning is equivalent or better than traditionally-offered programs as well as faculty reports regarding the equivalency of online programs.
Cost Effectiveness and Commitment
The second factor used by the OLC to determine the effectiveness of an online program is to confirm that providers improve the services offered while reducing the cost to students. Tuition rates must provide a fair return as well as a best value to learners who are enrolled. Tuition rates must be the same or less than traditional programs. OLC believes that demonstrating cost effectiveness shows that the institution and its stakeholders are supportive of online education. Success in this area is demonstrated by programs that are sustained, expanded and scaled upward to meet the institution’s mission and core values through online programs just as they do for traditional programs.
Access of Programs
OLC requires that any student who wishes to learn online be provided a wide array of programs and options. All students must be informed of the opportunity to learn online and that all students who are qualified are given reliable access to online programs. There must also be integrated support services to students who are learning online. The infrastructure must be sufficient to allow access by all learners, whether they are enrolled or planning to enroll in an online program. OLC uses quality metrics to determine that information is provided, learning resources delivered and there are tutoring services available.
OLC recognizes that students are not the only stakeholder who must be satisfied with an institution’s online programs. Faculty must also be agreeable to teaching online and must feel appreciated while teaching an online course. Faculty participation regarding online education, including governance, intellectual property and royalty sharing. OLC understands that adequate support from the faculty is critical to the success of any online program. One metric used to determine faculty satisfaction is how often teachers return to teach online courses at the institution. The addition of more online faculty members each year is another indication that the programs are providing what both students and faculty need. At least 90 percent of the faculty must believe that the online experience is positive and 80 percent must be willing to teach additional online courses.
Without student satisfaction, it would be difficult for any online program to succeed. OLC factors in whether students are pleased with the online experience, how their interaction with peers and instructors is managed as well as whether learning outcomes matched their expectations. Faculty must interact substantively with students and there must be a fair assessment system to know whether the student has achieved learning objectives.
The organization has made a dramatic improvement in online programs that are growing in popularity. With support from the Online Learning Consortium, adult learners are able to achieve their higher education goals while meeting family, work and social obligations.