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Summer 2023 - Volume 26, Issue 1

From the Editor

My oh my, how our challenges have changed.

When we initiated our first online courses in Georgia back in 1997, our first concerns were getting faculty interested and helping students and instructors with basic computer utilization. Ten or fifteen years ago, we spent an enormous amount of time on new regulations, adjusting to new accreditor standards, developing new models of assessing learning outcomes, and those pesky state authorizations. We were out to prove the worth of online learning.

Whether or not online learning is as good as the traditional environment is no longer the question. As my own retirement date from full-time work in higher ed approaches, one thing is clear to me more than anything else. The key to differentiating ourselves is through relentless service. There’s no turning back on online and hybrid programming, and there’s no more denying that students are indeed our customers - or something closely akin.

As administrators, we know that the quality of our courses must be superb and must also consider the principles of the user (learner) experience. That’s a given and yes, it can absolutely be achieved. We also know that this new world requires novel approaches - where an eventual demonstration of competency becomes more important than performance at a single point in time (such as the midterm). But as enrollments decline and institutions shut down or merge, there is one thing that will differentiate the survivors (beyond the biggest names).

And that is keeping the students we have through a 100 percent commitment to service from both administrators and faculty. I’m still flabbergasted at the slow pace of grade turnarounds in 2023, the utter lack of responsiveness from administrators to student emails, and a mindset that says we must continue with the same approaches and policies that we experienced "when we were in college." All it takes is one - just one - administrator or faculty member to make it or break it for a student. And then it becomes a wild domino effect.

The time to stop worrying about online vs. traditional or dreaming of the good ol’ days is now. (And honestly, if I were a student now, I’d never walk a half-mile in the snow to get to an 8 am class at The Ohio State University – I’d take it online). How we rapidly move from a mindset of higher ed as a body of rigid authority to one whose members are consistently open, flexible and empathetic is where our focus must be - no matter what the delivery mode.

Peace to all,


Melanie Clay Signature

Melanie N. Clay, Ph.D.
OJDLA Editor-in-Chief

June 15, 2023