A PANEL DISCUSSION ON THE STATE OF ONLINE GRADUATE
PROGRAMS IN MUSIC TEACHER EDUCATION
Mitchell Robinson, Michigan State University
James R. Austin, University of Colorado at Boulder
William I. Bauer, Case Western Reserve University
Dorothy Bryant, Ohio University
Kimberly C. Walls, Auburn University
Technology is impacting the content and delivery of many aspects of the educational enterprise. The recent and rapid increase in numbers of completely online and hybrid online/summer/residential graduate degree programs promises even further changes to the educational landscape in music teacher education. Given the increasing presence and popularity of these programs, serious, substantive conversation concerning the structure, design and effects of online graduate education has been conspicuously lacking in our professional discourse.
While online graduate programs offer tantalizing financial possibilities to cash starved music schools and departments, there are also ethical considerations surrounding these programs, including questions about admissions standards, residency requirements, student mentoring, online assessment integrity, opportunities for collegiate teaching experiences, and the socialization of online students to the music education profession. Among the issues offered for discussion are:
á Why do students elect to enroll in online programs and how are they being recruited?
á What benefits are there to students who earn a degree in an online program?
á Who are the people applying to online programs?
á What is an optimal number of students for an online class?
á How do qualifying and comprehensive exam procedures compare between online and residential programs?
á What sorts of residency components are in place for online graduate students?
á How are students in online graduate programs provided adequate mentoring and faculty attention?
á In doctoral programs, how are online students afforded opportunities to gain experience with collegiate teaching, long acknowledged as a critical component in the preparation of future professors?
á What are faculty perceptions of teaching in an online environment?
á What are the characteristics of the faculty being hired to teach in online graduate programs? Is the number or percentage of tenure-track music education faculty positions in online programs different than that in residential programs?
á What research and scholarship expectations are in place for faculty who work with online masters and doctoral students?
á What staffing levels are necessary for online programs to ensure that the quality of learning and mentoring are equivalent to face-to-face programs?
á What are the implications of hiring faculty members from other institutions as course instructors?
á To what extent is technology being used to transform learning and take full advantage of the medium, rather than simply delivering traditional course materials in an electronic format?
á What types of assessments are used in online programs?
á How do faculty overseeing online courses ensure that students submitting the work are actually doing the work?
Issues Impacting the Profession
á What are the career plans for persons in online masters and doctoral programs upon degree completion?
á Does an exponential increase in the number of music education masters and doctoral degrees awarded online decrease the value of all such degrees awarded across all accredited institutions?
á What is the financial impact of an online program on its institutionÕs music unit?