MOOCs No Slam Dunk For Virginia Commonwealth University
Rather than jump headfirst into online education, VCU created a task force, surveyed students and faculty and wrote a long-range plan.
8 MOOCs Transforming Education
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
The right way to enter into online education, according to Virginia Commonwealth University, is carefully.
Earlier this year, a VCU task force delivered a report to the university's provost, outlining an online education strategy, which will be fleshed out in the coming months and years, according to Jonathan Becker, interim director of Online Academic Programs and associate professor of Educational Leadership.
A social scientist by training, Becker was the point person for developing what's known as the S.A.G.E. report. The acronym breaks down as:
-- S for support, particularly of currently enrolled students.
-- A for access. That's about "figuring out which programs we think have a market beyond our brick-and-mortar campus," Becker said. The emphasis here is on credit-bearing and certificate programs, such as continuing education courses for teachers. "We're looking at ones that will generate revenue," Becker said, adding that although conceptualizing revenue-making programs is an implicit goal, it hasn't been a pressure point.
-- G for growth. New programs the university could offer but doesn't today.
-- E for exploration. Becker said that translates into "thinking big and being innovative."
The VCU strategic report, ordered by the university's provost in January and delivered earlier this year, focuses little on any particular delivery platform or technology.
"MOOCs came up, and we may put edX or Google's code [the open source Course Builder] on a server," in order to test these systems," Becker said. Becker himself has experience teaching online. For two years, he taught a class in educational technology to postgraduate students pursuing a certification in educational administration. He chose to cobble those classes together using Google Apps, instead of using the Blackboard LMS.
Asked about MOOCs, Becker said there had been "interest but no pressure" from VCU students and faculty.
"Our current face-to-face students like the flexibility [a MOOC] would give them," Becker said. "But they're savvy consumers, some have had good experiences and some have had bad experiences with online education."
Becker and the S.A.G.E. task group know the specific requests and concerns of students and faculty because it took the time to survey both groups earlier this year. In fact, this is his top recommendation for institutions considering an online education initiative.
"Start off with a deep and wide conversation with all the constituencies, collect data and see where it takes you," Becker said.
Asked what MOOC vendors bring to the table, Becker says it's their claim of using big data to better understand learners, learner networks and how the two interact.
Interestingly, this interest maps to the original goals of the first MOOC, the 2008 course created by Canadians George Siemens and Stephen Downes, Becker said.
"That's more consistent with what the Internet was designed for, and I hope we get back to that idea," Becker said. "Learning and the Web are inherently social, and I hope we get back to that."
Google in the Enterprise SurveyThere's no doubt Google has made headway into businesses: Just 28 percent discourage or ban use of its productivity products, and 69 percent cite Google Apps' good or excellent mobility. But progress could still stall: 59 percent of nonusers distrust the security of Google's cloud. Its data privacy is an open question, and 37 percent worry about integration.
CIOs Get Smart About BIIT’s tried for years to simplify business intelligence efforts. Have visual analysis tools and Hadoop and NoSQL databases helped? Respondents to our 2014 InformationWeek Analytics, Business Intelligence, and Information Management Survey have a mixed outlook.
. We've got a management crisis right now, and we've also got an engagement crisis. Could the two be linked? Tune in for the next installment of IT Life Radio, Wednesday May 20th at 3PM ET to find out.