Bachelor of Arts in Communication

Technically a Distance Learning Program

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Contact: Communication Chair Yoshitaka Miike, (808) 932-7231.

Degree Level: Baccalaureate

Enrollments Fall 2012-Present: WASC considers the BA in Communication an online degree program because it is possible for a student to complete 50% or more of major requirements online. However, the Communication department has never considered itself an online degree program. Nevertheless, the program underwent WASC substantive change review and received approval as an online program on January 10, 2012.

Online Communication courses are open to on-campus students as well as to students who live elsewhere in the state. Degree-seeking UH Hilo students register ahead of part-time students and undeclared majors, and online Communication courses fill almost immediately with degree-seeking UH Hilo students. UH Hilo does not have means of distinguishing students who are pursuing the BA in Communication with the aim of completing 50% or more of the major requirements online, from degree candidates who occasionally take an online Communication course for a variety of reasons, including living on another island.

Brief History of the BA in Communication as a DL Program: Communication faculty began to offer more and more courses online, as it became evident that online courses were valued by students. With no program intention to become an "online program," it soon became possible for students to complete more than 50% of major requirements with online format. Accordingly, the program underwent substantive change review and was by WASC on January 10, 2012.

Platforms for Delivery: Alll online Communication courses are delivered primarily on Laulima, the UH system's online learning management system.

Integration of Online Students into the Life/Culture of UH Hilo: As noted above, the department does not distinguish among the categories of students in its online courses. Because online courses fill rapidly during registration by declared majors, who are largely on-campus students, it is presumed that most students are on-campus students with full access to campus activities.

Campus Support for Instructional Technology: UH Hilo's Office of Campus Technology provides a full range of technological services to support programs, as well as faculty workshops during the academic year. The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs offers online and one-on-one faculty training in online course development and delivery. The Distance Learning Advisory Committee, comprised of faculty, one IT staff, and the campus DL Coordinator, is charged with examining and recommending "institutional policies and practices for supporting the design, development, implementation and evaluation of distance learning program and course offerings with a focus upon quality and connection to the mission of the University of Hawai'i at Hilo."

The University's Strategic Plan 2011-2015 includes priority actions 3.2 "Upgrade the university’s technology infrastructure including computer laboratories and classrooms, wireless broadband across all areas of the campus, and new technologies to better support student learning, teaching effectiveness, and research"; and 4.5 "Improve higher education access, outreach and support for non-traditional and underserved populations through, but not limited to, select, high-quality distance learning programs island-wide and beyond...."

Student Services and Library Services Available to Program Students: The Division of Student Affairs offers online and oncampus students a full range of services; all offices are accessible by phone and email, and all offices have information-rich webpages. The Mo'okini Library provides both face-to-face and online assistance to students in use of both print and digital resources.

Faculty Participation in Curriculum Development, Teaching, and Assessment: All online Communication courses are developed, taught, and assessed by fulltime Communication faculty.

Comparability of Online and Face-to-Face Courses: Most courses were developed initially as face-to-face courses and, when offered online, are taught by the same facultywith the same course content and student learning outcomes. Some courses are taught exclusively online.

Retention and Graduation Rates: The Communication department does not distinguish between "online majors" and majors in general. Attached are summaries of enrollments in online courses vs. traditional courses and course evaluation results for online courses vs. corresponding traditional courses.

Program Assessment: Learning Outcomes, Curriculum Map, Assessment Plan: The BA in Communication has a fully developed assessment system in place, with assessment results used to improve course design/delivery. Example: A recent assessment found that some students were unable to manage group assignments; this led to theories on group process [being] presented early in the course, students [being] introduced to group facilitation tools, addition of the wiki tool, and the requirement that group minutes be posted.  A subsequent assessment revealed more participation in and satisfaction with the group projects, and higher group project grades.

Contracts, Memoranda of Agreement with External Organizations: The department has never been considered to offer an online BA program and has never publicized itself as doing so. No contracts, memoranda of agreement, or other formal relations are involved.