I occasionally teach courses for the University of Phoenix Online, typically geeky Unix or Web related classes. While it’s not a great paying gig, I find it very interesting to be on the inside of one of the largest and most successful private educational organizations in the world. The University of Phoenix is actually owned by a for-profit company called The Apollo Group, which last year reported net income of $277 million against total revenue of $1.7 billion. Total enrolled student body: 107,497 students on physical campuses and 132,709 through their online program.
One very interesting change that the University of Phoenix has made to its course programs is that it defined a school week as Wednesday to the following Thursday, rather than Sunday to Saturday as every other school does. But that’s changing, according to the following memo…
This is an email message sent to all faculty (as far as I can tell) from the Dean:
Starting 4/19/05, all Online classes will begin on Tuesdays, and the Online week will run from Tuesday to Monday rather than the current schedule of Thursday to Wednesday. Online is making this change in response to student requests to adjust the course schedule to better take advantage of the weekends.
Here are some important points to keep in mind about this schedule change:
1) Online classes that begin before 4/19/05 will continue with the current Thursday-to-Wednesday schedule until they are completed. This schedule change impacts only those courses starting on or after Tuesday, 04/19/05.
2) A course originally scheduled to begin on Thursday, 4/21/05 now starts on Tuesday, 4/19/05. If you agreed to facilitate any courses with Thursday start dates after 4/21/05, those start dates will also be moved up two days so that the courses now start on Tuesday.
The Online schedulers will not contact you about the schedule change for courses that were starting on 04/21/05 or after. If you agreed to facilitate those courses, you are still scheduled for those courses with the understanding that the courses will begin on Tuesday rather than Thursday. If this change of schedule means that you will no longer be able to facilitate courses that you have already accepted, please contact your faculty scheduler immediately.
3) This schedule change needs to be reflected in your course materials. The assignment schedule in your syllabi will need to be adjusted to account for the Tuesday start date, and you will need to adapt other aspects of the course schedule, such as due days for discussion questions. In most cases, this will simply be a matter of making sure that assignment due dates are two days earlier.
4) Please note that faculty are still expected to post their weekly course materials the day before the respective Online week begins, which will be Monday of each week for courses that begin Tuesday.
5) Online resources such as the Online Syllabus Builder will be updated to reflect this change, and you will receive further tips about making this transition in separate notes over the next few weeks.
We recognize that this change is going to require faculty to adapt materials for the new Tuesday start date. Your assistance in helping us make this transition is greatly appreciated.
Over 100,000 students now have their week change, have new homework schedules, new requirements for integrating school and work, and more. All at the stroke of a single email message.
I have to say that I believe the University of Phoenix Online does a pretty darn good job with its online courseware delivery and education. They have a rigorous faculty training program and unlike other universities that I’m involved with, they have staff audit your classes and evaluate your teaching and interaction style on a recurring basis. They also have put quite a lot of effort into normalizing courses so that students get the same material, in the same order, regardless of instructor or when the class is delivered.
But I’m on the inside. From the outside things look different and the University of Phoenix does have somewhat of a reputation as a ‘degree mill’ without the academic credibility of other, more established institutions. I believe that this reputation is unfair, but I’m just a single voice out here in the wilderness.
Have you taken classes at UP Online, and if so, what was your experience and how did you like the overall program?