Senior program manager in an alt-ac career, administering a diverse portfolio of credit and noncredit programming at University of Oregon Academic Extension. Dog mom, wanna-be foodie, the Feminist Betty Crocker.
An article in Evolllution by Vickie Cook and Gayla Stoner enumerates the value that a continuing ed unit can provide an institution as a centralized resource supporting online initiatives.
· CE units are ideally positioned to initiate and manage interdisciplinary collaborations in service of institutional strategic plans/goals
· Faculty and student satisfaction increase when centralized and specialized support is provided for online/hybrid education
· Quality and consistency across programs/courses is best managed by one unit
o continuous improvement and quality control processes already existing in CE units are well suited to managing online/hybrid education
Online education did not develop with the intention to replace traditional education; it is a modality in response to a market need. It should be supported with infrastructure that suits the medium and the learners, which often differ from place- or “building-based” learners.
The market is pushing education to offer alternative modalities. Are we strategically planning on delivering high-quality products with exceptional service infrastructures, or are we forcing the proverbial square peg in the round hole running online options with building-based services?
Sherry Turkle, professor of social studies of science and technology at MIT, argues against a technologically integrated classroom and cautions against the widespread use of digital technologies in the service of learning, asserting that these technologies lead to unimaginative (if efficient) multitasking. Turkle argues that “unitasking,” focusing on one topic at a time, allows for a deep engagement with curriculum content and peers, which is necessary to a quality education. In addition to degrading the in-class experience by constant checking of mobile devices, Turkle argues, outside of class students use tools like GChat and Google Docs to complete their assignments, avoiding in-person collaboration. Further, they miss the “serendipity” of spontaneous ideas that occur when people talk in person (but not digitally?).
“[A tool like GChat] doesn’t leave room for what I want my students to experience when they collaborate. I call it intellectual serendipity. It may happen when someone tells a story or a joke. Or when someone daydreams and comes back with an idea that goes in a new direction. None of this is necessarily efficient. But so many of our best ideas are born this way, in conversations that take a turn.”