Doane’s online ‘community of inquiry’ in high growth mode

When you hear "Doane University," the first thing most people might think about is its Crete campus, which has a wide array of programs and a strong sense of community in a traditional college setting. But there is another Doane ‘community of inquiry’ that is growing rapidly, drawing students from 48 states and across the world, thanks to a recent commitment to fund new and updated online courses.

What makes Doane online as well as adult ‘ground’ courses so popular is the underlying philosophy behind the development of such courses. Course design and delivery is matched to the style of teaching required to optimize students’ experience, according to Associate Vice President for Online and Adult Operations Andrea Butler.

“Online pedagogy is different than face-to-face. It’s a completely different teaching style to engage online students” said Butler. Faculty review coursework to make sure requirements are covered. “Then we go one step above,” said Butler.

“We’ve taken online courses up to a higher level. All new courses are being created with this renewed commitment to quality,” said Butler. “Doane’s online community of inquiry is one that engages students with their peers, the course materials and faculty.”

Doane has offered a variety of online courses for about ten years, starting with College of Education and College of Arts and Sciences courses. As online education has evolved, Doane has evolved its courses significantly, according to Butler. A commitment was made two years ago to put support and standardization in the area of online programs; a commitment to deliver courses of the highest quality possible. The redevelopment of online education is one of Doane’s four key initiatives in extending Doane’s mission to provide exceptional education. An investment of $5.7 million, with support for key staffing and course development, has set the initiative in motion with promising results.

Dr. Amanda McKinney heads Doane’s Prerequisites for Health Professionals online courses—one area of Doane’s offerings in which demand is growing. McKinney says the development of new courses is a data-driven decision. “When we get to a critical mass, we can move forward,” said McKinney.

With new key positions now in place for the development of Doane’s online courses, Doane is poised to move forward in serving more students with courses identified as filling a specific need, Butler said.

“President Carter has been very clear in where we need to go—that this is the right move. I’m glad I’m at Doane. The energy behind this and all the people who want to do the best for students—that’s powerful. It’s homegrown,” said Butler.

The Doane Shield will provide features on each area of Doane’s online and adult programs during 2018, including the MBA, the Master of Arts in Management, College of Education courses, College of Arts and Sciences courses, more about the Prerequisites for Health Professionals and a new Bachelor of Arts in Agribusiness to launch next fall.