In 2018, the idea for a “Most Popular Movie” Oscar (thankfully) came and went, we debated whether we heard “laurel” or “yanni,” and J.R. Smith looks lonely on the Cavaliers’ bench after forgetting the clock in the NBA Finals.
While we did not cover any of those events in WCET’s Frontiers blog, our stories about higher education technology-enhanced instruction drew 20% more readers than ever before.
While we won’t look at the “Top 40” posts, we’ll do our best Casey Kasem impression (remember him, he was also the voice of Shaggy on Scooby Doo) and review the stories that were most popular this year…
Regular and Substantive and Interaction
Two of the top posts from 2018 were actually first published in previous years. The issue of how faculty and instructional designers should address the (not-quite-fully-defined) notion of “regular and substantive interaction” is our top draw this year…
- The most viewed post was Interpreting What is Required for “Regular and Substantive Interaction,” which was originally published in 2016. Van Davis and I reviewed all the documentation that we could find to interpret and explain what the U.S. Department of Education seems to be expecting for faculty and student interaction. Spoiler alert: it’s not really interaction. This post attracted 25% more viewers than its nearest rival.
- This oldie, but goodie was first published in 2014 and came in at number seven for the year: “Your Distance Education Course Actually a Correspondence Course?” It was an early look at the definition of a correspondence course and eventually eligibility for federal financial aid.
Online Course Quality – The Top Guest Post
Congratulations to Alexandra Pickett, Director Open SUNY Online Teaching, for this overview of their new quality rubric for online courses: My Online Course Quality Rubric Has a First Name. It’s O-S-C-Q-R!
This was the sixth most popular post and was the top guest contribution of the year. The rubric was so impressive that it went on to be named one of WCET’s 2018 WOW Award winners.
GDPR – Europe’s New Regulations on User Data
The second most popular post was also a holdover from 2017, E.U. Regulations That Are Enforceable Against U.S. Higher Education Institutions, outlined what institutions need to be doing to respond to the European Union’s new General Data Protection Regulation. If you collect personal data from anyone living on that continent, you should heed to advice from WCET’s Cheryl Dowd. For additional information, she provided an update on GDPR and other data protection issues on (when else?) Halloween in 2018.
WCET’s Cheryl Dowd (sometimes with help from me) continues her domination of the top of the charts with several items related to state authorization of distance education regulations:
- Practical advice on telling students about whether your institution meet state requirements was third most popular: Professional Licensure Notifications & Disclosures for Out-of-State Courses/Programs.
- Our fourth most popular post informed you on how to prepare for the pending federal. It came in at number 4 even though the regulation was placed on hold in July: State Authorization for Distance Ed Federal Regulation to be Implemented 07/01/2018.
- Just outside the top ten at number eleven is our explanation of that delay: The Announcement of the Delay was Delayed, but the Result is a Delay!
Possible Changes to Federal Regulations for Technology-Enhanced Education
In the middle of his show, Casey Kasem would pause to share a tale of woe that ended in happiness or hope. The person who submitted the story would suggest a song to play in honor of someone needing to be thanked or uplifted. In honor of Casey, this year’s “long distance dedication” goes out to everyone in Washington, DC where lots was discussed, but little happened. Casey, I’d like to dedicate “Don’t Stop Believing” to our friends in the D.C. Beltway.
Now back to the countdown.
As I said, lots of new legislation or regulations regarding innovations in higher education were proposed. Little was actually accomplished in 2018, but they set the stage for possible changes coming in 2019:
- At number five is the Department’s initial announcement in August for far-reaching negotiated rulemaking to begin in January 2019: Sweeping Changes Proposed by the Department of Education.
- At number eight is an examination of the Department’s more complete announcement in October regarding their rulemaking plans for 2019: The Department of Education’s Plans for Overhauling Accrediting and Innovation Regulations.
- Published late last year, is this overview of a proposal to reauthorize the Higher Education Act. It would have made many changes, but eventually went nowhere: House HEA Proposes Changes for Distance Ed, CBE, and State Authorization. It still landed as the ninth most popular post.
Proctoring Notification Ramifications (This One is Climbing the Charts!)
Attending a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game in coordination with a WCET/SAN workshop, Leeann Fields told me the story of how a UNLV course did not properly notify students about the need to pay for a test proctoring service. The institution ended up footing the bill for the entire class in this very open tale of how the problem was addressed: UNLV Pays a Cost for Not Notifying Students About Charges for Proctoring Services. In the old days of Top 40 radio, Kasem would often not a song that is quickly rising in popularity by saying that it is “climbing the charts.” This post was published in mid-October and continues to get views. At the WCET Annual Meeting, people stopped Leeann to thank her for the article.
Distance Education Continues to Grow
The most recent data from the Department of Education shows continued growth in distance enrollments while the overall higher education student population declined: Distance Education Enrollment Growth—Major Differences Persist Among Sectors. This was the eleventh most popular post.
We’re Off to 2019 – Share Your Story!
We look forward to serving you in 2019 and welcome your suggestion for story ideas. Beyond regulatory issues, we’re always looking for good stories about lessons learned. Let us know if you would like to share.
In conclusion, I leave you with the sentiment that Casey Kasem would always use to conclude an America’s Top 40 episode…
“Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.”