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Articles: Internet

Whether you think they are hype or the next step in the evolution of learning, there’s no question that MOOCs have taken the education world by storm.

Platforms such as Coursera, edX, and UniversityNow offer free courses online to students anywhere, and are continuing to grow. Coursera now has more than 60 partners here and abroad, including École Polytechnique in France, the National University of Singapore, the Chinese University of Hong Kong and National Autonomous University of Mexico.

It’s one of modern cinema’s most familiar and resonant moments: the scene in Good Will Hunting where Matt Damon’s character humiliates a Harvard student, contending that the Ivy Leaguer blew $150,000 to learn less than Will could learn with a library card.

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have captured the headlines in higher education in the past year. These new platforms were developed to enable both open access and large scale participation in online courses. Many top tier universities are joining the MOOCs bandwagon, afraid of missing an important piece of the Web-based phenomenon. It is our goal as educators to assess whether or not they can become a best practice in online learning.

Tim Goral

Earlier this year work began on a document that, at the very least, formalizes expectations and minimum standards for schools and students venturing into online learning. With the growth of MOOCs and distance learning, we are entering a time when these alternate forms of learning will supplement and in some cases supplant traditional education models. Universities recognize that they need to find ways to provide cost-effective, quality education to an expanding base, even as their own funding gets slashed.

Cloud computing is gaining traction as mainstream for many applications in the education and research industries. Commercial enterprises have turned to the “cloud” for years to gain on-demand access to a shared pool of computing resources. Now, with organizations realizing compelling advantages in cost, speed, and efficiency, cloud computing is expanding to meet the needs of a diverse range of industries—and higher education is among the fields taking the plunge in certain application areas.

Tony Bates

Tony Bates is the author of 11 books in the field of online learning and distance education. In addition to his most recent title, Managing Technology in Higher Education: Strategies for Transforming Teaching and Learning (Jossey-Bass/John Wiley & Co. 2011), Bates moderates a widely read blog about online learning and distance education resources at www.tonybates.ca. Popular with audiences at education conferences around the world, Bates will be a featured speaker at UBTech 2013 in Orlando.

Rechargeable Comfort

Bretford’s MOTIV High-Back Sofa was designed to provide a semiprivate and comfortable space for students and others on campus who are resting or working, alone or in groups. The MOTIV High-Back Sofa has an optional power module with an AC outlet and USB charger, allowing users to charge laptops, tablets, and other mobile devices.

Will residential liberal arts colleges follow the path of the wristwatch? I sure hope so. With all of the talk about MOOCs, online instruction, and game-based learning models, many of us working at residential liberal arts colleges are uncertain about our future. The reports are scaring us into conversations about fundamentally restructuring—perhaps even abandoning what we do and how we do it.

College and university networks present opportunities to manage devices remotely, often automatically. Automating device management via the network saves students, faculty, and staff time and allows institutions to direct resources and efforts to the core business of higher education: learning.

Build Your Own Display

Christie MicroTiles

Connecticut Distance Learning Consortium girl on computer

As distance learning programs are developed and then refined, there are many options for national, regional, and statewide distance education consortia that the institutions can, and often do, join. The consortia help in sharing resources and tips to help each other with distance learning efforts.

Organizations like the American Distance Education Consortium, National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education (NITLE), and Sloan Consortium offer member schools access to networking, resources, conferences, and learning opportunities.

Members of distance education consortia can turn to their fellow members in times of need. But that’s just one benefit of membership. Another is the opportunity to easily consult like-minded individuals, which can spark new ideas in distance learning education programs.

Meeting expectations is passé. Today, it's all about exceeding expectations. Most colleges and universities understand that IT is integral to their function; however, few administrators truly understand the value of IT. This lack of understanding holds many universities back from capitalizing on information technology and the expertise of IT professionals. Technology pervades and facilitates nearly every university activity, from the library to the classroom to the administration buildings.

As a consultant to schools on programming for students with autism, I’m used to proposing ideas and hearing, “Sounds great, but sorry, we can’t do that.” Good intentions sometimes can’t overcome limitations in resources. But when I proposed the development of a bachelor’s degree designed to meet the specific needs of students with autism to The Sage Colleges (N.Y.), the response was very different. From the president on down, the prevailing attitude was, “How can we make this happen?”

The readers have spoken and for the first time ever, University Business magazine is honoring higher education products and services, in this first annual Readers’ Choice Top Products for 2012. Earlier this year, campus leaders and administrators from across the country had the unique opportunity to nominate what products they and their peers around the country are using, and voice how these products contribute to the success of their schools.

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