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Articles: Teaching & Learning

Although the in-house work in preparing traditional classes to be taught online can be overwhelming, the vast majority of colleges and universities do not to use third-party vendors for online course development. Ottawa University, based in Kansas but with locations across the country, has its own curriculum design studio, says Brian Messer, vice president of online.

At the height of allergy season, Forbes projected a $14.7 billion profit margin for over-the-counter allergy medications alone. Over the past year, the American public got a rare look into the alleged unethical and deceitful business, hygiene, medical, and pharmacy practices at the New England Compounding Center (NECC) in Framingham, Massachusetts.

These days there’s a lot of attention on delivering content and services to the second, third, and now fourth screens - laptops, cell phones and tablets. One of these services is mass notification, or Emergency Alert System (EAS) messaging. While reaching all of these new screens provides extensive coverage, skipping the original first screen, the television, leaves a gaping hole in the plan.

Higher ed institutions driving courses online to meet increasing demand sometimes need outside help in developing or designing their digital curriculum. Of more than 2,000 colleges and universities with online programs, about 10 percent have used third-party vendors for any course development, estimates Richard Garrett, vice president and principal analyst for online higher education at the consulting firm Eduventures.

In old-school lecture halls, the rooms would be outfitted with a single projector in the back and a single screen in the front, while large numbers of students quietly listened as the professor spoke. But as the standard lecture experience has become dated, the audiovisual needs of classrooms have evolved to support group study and collaborative, team-based learning. Mark Valenti, president and CEO of The Sextant Group, an audiovisual consulting firm, puts it this way: “We’re basically seeing the beginning of the end of the lecture hall.”

In any endeavor, it is prudent to begin with the end in mind. This strategy proved to be successful throughout my business career, which culminated in a position as a managing director at Merrill Lynch. When I turned my attention to business education, I decided to once again start at the end.

According to Henry J. Neeman, director of the OU Supercomputer Center for Education & Research (OSCER) at Oklahoma University, schools will want to investigate guidelines for their own future HPC platforms. His own institution is seeing ROI from HPC as high as 700 percent from its supercomputer named Boomer.

From where he sits, the keys to a successful HPC platform include:

Imagine thinking thousands of thoughts at the same time. What if each thought was one piece of a really big problem—a problem now solvable in hours or days rather than years because of this simultaneous thought process? That’s what high-performance computing (HPC) does.

Sharing information on the go is second nature to today’s college student. That reality is pushing higher ed leaders to leverage that connectivity to build a more interactive learning environment. Smartphones, tablets, notebooks, and other mobile devices offer flexibility in extending the learning space beyond the classroom and getting students more engaged.

Many institutions with a single traditional brick and mortar campus are diversifying the methods for delivering their programs by going online, developing hybrid courses, and even establishing centers at locations off-campus. In his UBTech featured session, “Using Multiple Delivery Methods to Reduce the Cost of Higher Education,” Alan Walker, former president of Upper Iowa University, will discuss the challenges and cost benefits of strategic diversification.

When students in an honors business and professional communications course at Robert Morris University (Pa.) conducted research on textbooks, a survey revealed that 14 percent of their peers knew at least one student who dropped out of school because he or she could not afford to pay for textbooks. And when administrators learned of that finding, they took action.

Toughpad Tablet

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.

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.

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