Viability of a communication-based model of online distance learning
This research explored the v iab ility of a Iow-inv estm ent/low en ro lm ent model of on lin e lea rn in g and the factors that affected its viability through a single-case study analysis of the C om m u n ica tion -B a sed model of online distance learning currently implemented at the Institute of Technology, Sligo. This model promoted the theory of course viability with low -d ev e lopm en t costs and low -en ro lm en t levels, contrary to many theories that online learning was only viable with significant initial investment and high enrolment levels. This research also tested the proposition that online learning did not significantly increase faculty workloads through the conducting of faculty wo rklo ad su rveys. The case study concluded that online learning workloads were significantly higher than similar face-to-face workloads and that this was due to a multi-variable effect. The research also discovered that, through modular comparisons of similar online and traditional face-to-face evening courses using the G en e r ic Co st Model, that the Communication-Based model of online learning was only viable at low enrolment levels with high enrolment fees. This could be attributed, in part, to the existence of high tu to r in g r em u n e ra tion costs, which are paid to online faculty for the perceived added workload involved in teaching online courses. A number of co st-r ed u c tion te ch n iq u e s were also explored, which highlighted three primary variables that directly affected the cost and viability of online learning programs: enrolment levels, enrolment fees and tutoring costs.
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