Online board helps create online programs

Luis Martinez, Administration Editor

Eastern created a temporary board in 2012 focused on putting together online degree programs for off-campus students.

Robert Augustine, the chair of the online board, said the board is a group of both faculty and administrators.

“People know it’s not one of our permanent committees,” Augustine said. “It’s a temporary committee that we have until the time we decided we want a more permanent committee.”

The focus of the board is to create online degree programs for students who are unable to come to campus to get their degree.

“We have students that want to come to EIU, but because they’re working or because of other reasons, they cannot come in the usual way,” Augustine said. “They’re looking for online degree programs, and to be responsive to that, we have then brought the representatives of the departments together.”

The representatives come together to create the online programs, which then have to pass through the Council on Academic Affairs and the Council on Graduate Studies.

The online board then addresses any issues that may occur after the programs are created and passed.

Currently, the online board is addressing policy issues, which may deter students taking online courses.

“One of those policies that we’re working on is when a student currently stops out,” Augustine said. “Our online students tend to stop out more frequently than our face-to-face students, and we’re trying to make it easier and simpler for every student to simply come back when they’re ready to complete their degree programs.”

The board is also looking at creating a webpage to list all the current online degree programs.

“What are they, how would I find out about them, who would help me with them, you have to go all over the place to find them,” Augustine said. “Soon, they’re going to be in just one place; you can see what they all look like, and then you can then get to the department chair to find out more about it.”

While the courses are mainly focused on students who are unable to come to campus, the online course are available to all students.

“Sometimes, there are reasons why we don’t want our face-to-face students to take our online courses,” Augustine said. “We want them to be engaged in the classes here.”

Augustine also said the online board does not create more courses; it creates whole degree programs.

“We began our efforts to develop online programing for academic instruction in 2000 with the creation of CATS, Center for Academic Technology Support,” Augustine said. “That center was created specifically to help Eastern develop online courses.”

Augustine said one of the first steps toward including online courses was making sure the faculty had the technology to teach them.

“If they needed technology to teach in their classrooms here on our campus, they had everything they needed,” Augustine said.

Eastern differs from other public institutions in terms of online course availability.

Faculty members have to go through an online development before they can teach an online course; each course and degree program undergoes the same type of review process, and these courses are taught by Eastern faculty members, not other faculty hired by the university separately.


Luis Martinez can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].