UMD University of Minnesota Duluth

Web Course Delivery Workshop

May 20 - May 30, 2003

Costs of Delivering a Web-Based Course

There is a wide range of courses delivered on the web, and consequently the range of costs to support the course is large as well. Here are some ideas about costs for you to consider.

Faculty Time

Faculty time can be divided into three parts: course development, course delivery, and course maintenance. Some faculty members do all of this work themselves. Others have staff support for some or all parts of this process.

Several faculty have given estimates of course development time that range from 100 hours to 200 hours. This will vary depending upon individual skills, complexity of course content, and the particular media applications used.

Delivering a course on the web requires time to respond to student questions, read student work, facilitate online discussions, and communicate to build community. Some of this is parallel to time you would spend teaching a regular class. Some of it requires extra time, especially as class sizes grow. Sometimes extra staff support can help lessen the load on the faculty member. Courses where students all follow independent schedules can take more time than those where all students complete assignments on the same time line.

Course maintenance is very important in a web-based course. Links to references can disappear over time. As you learn to teach online, you will find new ways to do things that will require changes to your web site.

Faculty Computer Equipment

Faculty who teach online find they need a powerful, modern computer to maximize their efficiency. A clunky old computer will quickly become a liability when teaching online.

Working From Home

Just as a slow computer is a liability in teaching online, so is a slow network connection. If you like to work from home, you might find it worthwhile to invest in broadband services. See Broadband Services for Off-Campus Homes for more information.

Servers and Software

ITSS provides a full range of web services on our campus web servers which you are welcome to use for your course web sites. ITSS does charge for disk storage. The annual cost for two of Tom Bacig's online courses are: $4.82 for Cultural Studies 1010 and $1.53 for Cultural Studies 3030 (password protected).

Some units may choose to run their own web server to provide web courses. Before you choose to do this, be sure to factor in these costs: hardware, software, network, systems administration(staffing), security, data backups, and redundant power.

Support Staff

A number of faculty doing significant online teaching have additional staff support. ITSS staff members Barb Johnson and Bruce Reeves are available to all UMD faculty, but some units are hiring additional staff to provide support. Some faculty make good use of undergraduate or graduate assistants as well. Interesting interactive media will require special training or special support. When thinking about the cost of a staff member, consider salary, fringe benefits, office space, equipment, networking, and telephone.

Interactive Television

Some distance courses use interactive television for part of the interaction. ITSS does charge per hour for ITV classes.

Sources of Funding

Continuing Education compensates faculty for developing and delivering online Individualized Instruction (INI) courses.

Collegiate units may provide special funding for online courses. Faculty workload issues related to online courses are currently being negotiated between the UEA and the administration.

The Chancellor's Small Grants program has sometimes been used for online course support.

ITSS research and thesis grants can be used to support charges for storing a course web site.


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