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Good Afternoon -

In efforts to provide the best possible support for online courses, I'm interested in hearing how others are accomplishing this.

Does your institution outsource the online course LMS?

Do you provide 24 hour tech support?

Do you use an answering service, helpdesk phone line, online ticket system or email for during/after hours support of your LMS?

What impact do you see on bandwidth?

What was the biggest hurdle during implementing an online class?

Any additional information is welcome.

Thanks in advance.



Byron Sayres
Director of Information Technology
Alderson-Broaddus College
101 College Hill Dr
Philippi, WV  26416 - Email
304-457-6225 - Phone
304-709-2690 - Cell

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I provide responses below base on our institution but this is really specific to your organization, the resources you have, where you see online education in your organization and the timeline for growth. Ashland University has about 2200 undergraduates, 4200 graduate students and serves 20,000 or so each year in our Professional Development Services area (non-credit offerings).  We have been offering online courses for 6 years.  The interest at the graduate level is very strong and the interest in undergraduate is growing every year.  We have fully online courses, hybrid courses and also use the LMS to aid with face to face courses so there is quite a variety of use.  I hope the answers below help.


I have also provided answers to your specific questions at the bottom of this message, but I’d like to make the following points as well:
  1. I think, it is key to provide sound instructional technology and instructional design course development work, as well as ongoing (and usually distinct everyday instructional technology support to students *and* faculty and teaching staff.
  2. Faculty, and in particular research faculty, have in general very little time and interest in developing online and blended learning courses.  The institution needs to provide “warm bodies” to do most of the course redesign and development work under the supervision of the faculty and in cooperation with the instructional technology consultants and instructional designers.
  3. It is rather easy to find a faculty member in just about any teaching department, technologically ready, willing and able to teach online.  It is significantly more difficult to find a cohort of faculty within the same teaching department to develop and teach a full program online.
  4. Online and blended learning instructors (superstars or not) must be engaged and remain engaged with the course redesign and development, and with the actual nurturing and student engagement of the course, once classes started.  Instructors who are not very familiar with the learning technology being used or regularly involved with the online or blended learning class, say, nurturing the discussion boards, commenting on class and student blogs, journals or class walls, will not fair very well in an online learning program.
  5. Any investment made on helping faculty move away from traditional online (i.e. open-book) testing, and into authentic assessment, collaborative learning and Web 2.0-based assignments is time very well spent.  Simply digitizing high-stakes midterms and final exams for online delivery will sooner or later run into sustainability problems.  There are too many things that can go wrong when dozens or hundreds of students are asked to take extended high-stakes examinations online.  At the very least, break the online exams into a series of small online quizzes and make the quizzes resumable and showing one question at the time.
  6. The use and availability of mobile learning technology, social learning networks and ease-of-use multimedia authoring and delivery for students and instructors alike can be extremely beneficial, in particular, to keep the class connected and the students engaged.
As you might suspect, Teaching & Learning is one of my passions, so I could go on and on, but I’d better stop for now.
Greetings from Chicago,
--- Ed
--- Ed Garay
Assistant Director for Academic Computing
UIC Instructional Technology Lab
University of Illinois at Chicago

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I have provided answers below:




Thomas H. Carnwath
Vice President
Technology and Information Services
Hamilton Hall
320 South Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102

Tel: 215-717-6440



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I think an important clarification to your inquiry is --- are you talking about online courses or entirely online programs?  

The responses should be very different if you are asking because a handful of faculty have decided to deliver their course online as compared to having an entire degree program being offered online.  For example, if its only a few unrelated classes perhaps 24x7 support is not as critical.  If you have an entirely online degree program, some might argue that 24x7 tech support is mandatory.



  Please see below.

Best regards,



Kevin Palmer

CIO – Columbia College