Logan Students Learn Beyond the Classroom
Online Curricula Expands to Serve Distance Learners
Students worldwide are now one click away from the Logan educational experience. Today, the web transports our online curricula directly to remote learners, making the miles between our students and the campus fade among the distance-learning options.
The simplicity of the online learning experience contrasts with the laborious 10-year process Logan undertook to deliver its courses to scholars regardless of geography. What began with a federal grant earned in 2002 to purchase videoconferencing
equipment has evolved throughout the years into accredited online curricula, including Logan’s Master of Science Degree in Nutrition and Human Performance now offered entirely online and on campus.
“We embarked on this journey a decade ago,” said Elizabeth A. Goodman, DC, PhD, Logan’s dean of university programs. “It was obvious to our administration that Logan needed a learning management platform to incorporate web-based education into our on-campus coursework. We wanted to then take this platform and develop it into specific online coursework that our trained faculty could take to students across the country and around the globe.”
To make this vision a reality, Logan hired specialists to develop its distance education program and invested in Blackboard™ technology, which Logan’s Associate Vice President of Education Technology Vince McGee, MSEd, considers an incomparable distance learning tool. With the top talent and technology in place, the Logan administration concentrated on its next
move: creating the Logan hybrid and submitting it to the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association for approval.
Hands-on Care, Online Study
The year 2007 forever changed the landscape of the Logan campus. Logan broke ground with its first Master of Science Degree in Sports Science and Rehabilitation. The program appealed to both Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) and non-DC students alike. With such a broad student audience and immediate demand for the courses, Logan’s next logical step called for taking the masterlevel
“We began seeking approval from the HLC to offer our master’s program as a hybrid where our faculty could share its class lectures with students online, while completing the hands-on instruction on campus,” said Dr. Elizabeth Goodman. “This blended format met the needs of modern students and practicing DCs who desired advanced learning but had the barriers of time and distance to manage.”
Behind the scenes, Logan administrators and its technology specialists, including McGee and Nicholas Farha, Ph.D., worked to perfect the technological applications and to demonstrate to the HLC that students benefitted from the same learning outcomes regardless of an on-campus or online delivery format.
“Throughout this process, our educational mission never changed,” added Dr. Elizabeth Goodman. “It’s our job to employ best practices that ensure students’ learning outcomes.”
According to McGee, this is where the Blackboard platform shines. He says Blackboard offers several matrices for Logan to measure student outcomes, including how much time the students spend logged into the course.
As the administration worked through its HLC review, Logan faculty had some homework to complete as well. “To teach courses online through our Blackboard system, our faculty has to become Blackboard certified, and the process is quite extensive,” noted McGee.
“Our instructors have to succeed as online students before they can become online educators.”
The approval and subsequent success of the hybrid program compelled Logan to return to the commission four years later. This time, Logan was after something different: introducing its entire Master of Science Degree in Nutrition and Human Performance to students online.
Ironically, Logan’s earlier online achievements made it more difficult to earn HLC approval for the nutrition degree, as the commission has guidelines regarding the amount of online education an institution can offer.
“The current literature affirms our focus on online education and motivates us to continue working on behalf of the distant learner,” said Dr. Elizabeth Goodman. “Research supports that online learning is an effective and preferred format for mature students who are seeking graduate education options. These young men and women are digitally savvy—they thrive in their own environments, and they’re independent, focused learners.”
After the commission’s site visit to Logan in 2011, it approved the new master’s program’s online format. Following this milestone, HLC authorized Logan to offer a variety of our undergraduate science courses online. Currently, Logan provides the following accelerated science courses online and on campus: physics, chemistry, organic chemistry and algebra. Through Logan’s online
channels, students can now complete two semesters of science coursework in only one semester’s time.
A Look Online
Logan’s online curriculum isn’t for everyone—only students who, just like their campus counterparts, submit to the traditional admission standards and earn secure access to the online coursework. Once accepted to the program, online students enjoy the same instruction provided on campus and all of Logan’s student service offerings.
“There is no distinction among our Logan students,” confirmed Dr. Elizabeth Goodman. “All students receive the same attention and care regardless of where they take their Logan classes or the degree program they are seeking.” For example, Logan requires distance learners to complete an online orientation prior to their studies. These students have access to a 24/7 help line, counseling and all other services provided to students on the Logan campus.
Once students are online, they can select from a menu of tools and view the exact same materials provided to students in the
classroom, including PowerPoint lectures, X-rays and multimedia content. They also can use dedicated online grading and
discussion tools that promote interaction between faculty and students, and their fellow online classmates.
“Logan faculty members own their curriculum whether presented online or in the classroom,” said Dr. Elizabeth Goodman. “They have the latitude to design online courses so students, for example, can study ahead or review assignments during our trimester recesses, or they can prohibit advancement until certain subject areas are mastered. Some of our greatest online tools include the discussion functions and Blackboard’s tracking mechanisms, which allow instructors to engage with their students and to know exactly where students are with their studies at any given time.”
Despite the progress Logan has made with its online curricula options, the administration and its technology experts remain focused on the future.
“Our current online coursework is open to all accepted students, complementing the practice of chiropractic but not requiring the pursuit of a chiropractic degree,” said Dr. Elizabeth Goodman. “Take, for instance, our accelerated science coursework now offered online. These students can enter one of our graduate programs or pursue a health-related degree from any college or
university. Still, we’ve exposed them to chiropractic-based education, and that’s an immeasurable benefit.”
Next, Logan would like to offer a number of DC courses online, while exploring other degree programs as well. Another area of focus is postgraduate education. “We need postgraduate offerings to be original and online,” said Dr. Elizabeth Goodman. “Now, some states only sanction postgraduate courses in the states where the DC is licensed. We’d like to continue knocking down barriers to chiropractic-based education and make quality courses and instruction available to all DCs who wish to enhance their education. It’s important for Logan to stay ahead of this movement and continue advancing our online curricula to help our doctors.”