Blended Learning, Domestic, Education Quality, Faculty, Flipped Classrooms, Open Source Education, Required, Technology, top, Universities & Colleges - Written by on Friday, September 7, 2012 6:00 - 0 Comments

Stanford & Columbia University Select Academics To Lead Online Learning Efforts

Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Don via Compfight

The blended learning revolution is creating new jobs in the administration suites of elite college campuses such as Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., and Columbia University in New York City. We predict more campuses nationwide will begin to follow suit as college presidents and boards are nervously optimistic about the potential for online learning expansion and the necessity to get it right in terms of education quality, revenue potential and in a way that helps the school’s brand rather than hurting that brand.

Stanford created the Office of the Vice Provost for Online Learning late last month, calling it part of the school’s larger online learning initiative. It “signals both a restructuring of the university and its dedication to ensuring pedagogical agility and rigor in the face of global, economic and social transformations,” Stanford said in a press release. It’s “a landmark step in its commitment to bring new teaching and learning methods to Stanford students - and to students around the world - in response to the requirements and potential of the 21st century.”

Computer scientist John Mitchell will serve as Stanford’s first vice provost for online learning. He’s the Mary and Gordon Crary Family Professor in the School of Engineering. Stanford President John Hennessy also selected Mitchell as chair of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Technology in Higher Education.

“Stanford has been at the forefront of this game-changing, challenging initiative,” Hennessy said in announcing Mitchell’s appointment. “Our faculty have been working in online education for some time now, and their excitement is growing. This is a field that deserves increasing attention and investment, and the new Office of the Vice Provost is in keeping with Stanford’s tradition of leadership in innovation and experimentation. “I’m delighted that John Mitchell has agreed to accept this challenge and serve as our first vice provost.”

The creation of the Office of the Vice Provost for Online Learning (VPOL) – part of the larger Stanford Online initiative – signals both a restructuring of the university and its dedication to ensuring pedagogical agility and rigor in the face of global, economic and social transformations. Provost John Etchemendy, to whom Mitchell will report, pointed to the dual possibilities inherent in online learning. “Our primary mission is to teach Stanford students,” he said, “but it is also the university’s mission to disseminate knowledge widely, through textbooks, scholarly publications and so forth. Technology provides ways to both improve our existing classes and to extend our reach. By using technology creatively, we can tap the tremendous teaching talent we have on campus to offer new learning opportunities to millions of people, both in the United States and around the world.”

During the coming academic year, Stanford Online will focus on involving faculty in new teaching and learning methods; supporting course production and online delivery; and continuing a seed grant program that began last spring. The underlying challenge is this: How can Stanford faculty best teach students, both those enrolled on campus and lifelong learners? VPOL will enable the university essentially to become a laboratory of learning for the benefit of teachers everywhere, by providing leadership and information as the online education movement develops. Stanford Online comprises courses taught by Stanford faculty, software designed by and for Stanford faculty, a new website offering resources and community to those involved in online learning, and the seed grants. Mitchell also will oversee technical production and communications related to the online learning effort.

“This is a very exciting time to be in education,” Mitchell said. “While technology provides many new possibilities, the fundamental question is how to improve teaching and learning with these tools. With Stanford’s tradition of innovation and academic excellence, we have the perfect environment for trying many new approaches across campus. Many faculty are enthusiastic about showing off their courses to the world, but our deepest interest is in improving the educational experience for our students. In the process, we can use technology to expand our student base and provide exciting learning opportunities worldwide.”

It is quite rare for Stanford to establish vice-provostial offices. Nearly 20 years ago the Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education was created; and in 2007 the Office of the Vice Provost for Graduate Education opened. Both fundamentally reshaped education at Stanford. VPOL intends to do the same. Faculty members have stepped up to the challenge. Around 15 courses will be offered online in fall quarter by Stanford faculty, covering engineering, mathematics, social science, education and entrepreneurship, and many more are lined up for winter and spring. The deans of the schools of Medicine, Engineering and Business have appointed faculty members to spearhead online learning at their respective schools, and assigned resources to encourage experimentation among students and faculty.

“We’ve had exciting proposals for new courses and new online resources from humanities, sciences, engineering and the professional schools,” Mitchell said. “We’ll see some great learning material from the School of Medicine that can help improve health for everyone. While all the departments and schools have their own approaches, we’re all one university working together to leverage web platforms, video technology, social networking, simulation and other tools to improve education for everyone.”

Stanford classes on Coursera, a hosting company founded by Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng, professors of computer science currently on leave from Stanford, have been extraordinarily successful over the past year, attracting hundreds of thousands of students around the globe. Two other software platforms have arisen on campus in recent months: Class2Go, a nonprofit, open-source project designed by a team of engineers at the Department of Computer Science; and Venture Lab, designed by Amin Saberi, associate professor of management science and engineering. All these platforms have unique features appealing to the needs and practices of professors in different fields. They can be adapted for massive open online courses (MOOCs), courses aimed only at Stanford students or a combination of the two.

The Stanford Online website, whose redesign will be launched Sept. 21, will enable students to find courses, faculty to find assistance and inspiration, and anyone interested in educational innovation to follow the developments. The Presidential Advisory Committee on Technology in Higher Education, led by Mitchell, emphasized in its report that Stanford’s primary educational mission is to its own students. Yet at the same time, it said in late July, the university is well poised to take a leading role to bring online educational opportunities to those unable to acquire them by other means. The report weighed strategies combining university-focused and externally focused courses, examined potential cost models and considered the development of homegrown platforms and those based off campus.

Billy Gallagher, editor of the Stanford Daily, writes on TechCrunch: 

But some of the more interesting material comes from Stanford’s recent actions. The school has been experimenting with online education for over a year now. In a January meeting, Hennessy told Stanford’s Faculty Senate, “We want to get ahead of this wave. I want to be surfing the wave, not drowning in it.” The January meeting was preceded by the University’s failed bid for a New York City engineering and applied sciences campus.

“Universities must evolve to meet the needs of today’s complex world,” Hennessy said in September 2011. “For example, technology is changing the face of higher education: how we teach as well as the ability to collaborate over distance…the country needs another major innovation center that would have some of the dynamism and capability and impact that Silicon Valley has had.”

Some of the biggest names in higher education, most notably Harvard, MIT and Stanford, have been looking to dynamically change the education system that has made their institutions’ degrees incredibly valuable and incredibly costly. MIT and Harvard provide interactive courses from both schools online for free through edX, which UC Berkeley recently joined. Stanford has the aforementioned programs, some of which include other Universities, a curriculum redesign in the medical school to eliminate lectures and now has doubled down with the Vice Provost for Online Learning.

Via TechCrunch
Meanwhile, over at Columbia University in New York City, tech savvy Sree Sreenivasan was named as the first Chief Digital Officer at the Ivy League school. Sree was an invaluable resource as Dean of Students at Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism, where he incessantly steered conversations and programs to the idea of technological disruption and staying ahead of the curve. He’s a gadget geek himself, who loves reporting on and using the latest Apps, gadgets and products and finding new ways to practice journalism with these technologies and devices. Will he be able to apply the same energy to the entire Columbia campus with its many schools and fiefdoms? Does Columbia have the same motivation toward digital learning that Stanford, one of the greatest forces in the Silicon Valley tech scene, has? Time will tell.
Arik Hesseldahl writes in AllThingsD:

If you know anyone in the New York media scene, then you either know Sree, or you know someone who does. And more often than not, you need only mention him by his first name: Once you and another person establish that you both know Sree, you’re already more than halfway to being friends. For those who don’t know him, Sree — @sree on Twitter — is Sreenath Sreenivasan, who, during the 15 years I’ve known him, has been a hyperconnected, seemingly permanent fixture at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. (Full disclosure: I’m a graduate of the school, and was a student of Sree’s 15 years ago.)

Having graduated from the school himself in 1993, he simply never left. Some 19 years later, as a professor, he has taught most subjects in the curriculum at least once, and spent the last seven years holding the title Dean of something or other: Most recently it has been Dean of Student Affairs. Aside from his academic duties, he always found the time and energy to keep a foot in the media game. When I first met him, he was teaching a full course load and was a regular contributor to the New York Times Business section, and had just wrapped a gig as a freelance producer for “The Nightly Business Report” on PBS.

He’s been a tech commentator for New York’s local TV news broadcasts, most recently for WCBS; he blogs on social media for CNET, does his own weekly Web-based call-in show on BlogTalkRadio, and teaches workshops for midcareer professionals of every stripe who are trying to get their heads around how to use Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn productively. He also co-founded the South Asian Journalists Association. And when this tornado named Sree finally stops whirling, he’s always got time for any student. The sign on the door to his office reads: “Yes you can bug me” “Don’t worry, you’re NOT interrupting.” 

 Via AllThingsD

Sent: Wednesday, July 11, 2012 5:01 PM Subject: Sree Sreenivasan appointed Chief Digital Officer, Office of the Provost

Dear Colleagues,

I am very pleased to announce that I have appointed Sree Sreenivasan as Columbia University’s first Chief Digital Officer. Sree, who was previously Dean of Student Affairs at Columbia’s School of Journalism, joins the Office of the Provost effective immediately. Sree’s portfolio will cover a broad range of issues at the intersection of technology, education, and digital media. His primary responsibility will be to lead the development of a coordinated university-wide strategy in response to the quickening pace of change in online education and digital media.

This effort will focus on supporting the innovative and exciting distance learning programs run by the School of Continuing Education, the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and other academic units, as well as facilitating efforts by other schools at Columbia that want to develop an online curricular presence. At the same time, this effort aims to make the most effective use of Columbia’s academic and financial resources, and incentivize collaboration and the adoption of effective practices across campus. The goal is to ensure that we deploy new tools and technologies in interactive and distance learning to ensure the richest and most dynamic learning environment possible for Columbia’s students. Sree will work closely with schools, centers, and academic departments, as well as our existing digital development groups such as Columbia’s Center for New Media Teaching and Learning.

In addition to his focus on online education, Sree will provide advisory services and programs to schools, faculty and administrators on digital technology and social media, working closely with our Office of Communications and Public Affairs to highlight areas of University leadership. (The role does not affect our existing information technology operations within the division of Student and Administrative Services.)

Sree has spent 20 years on Morningside Heights: one earning his M.S. at the Journalism School and another 19 as a professor, including seven as a dean. Most recently, he was the Journalism School’s Dean of Student Affairs, supervising admissions, student service/life and career services. All the while, he was an active member of the faculty, teaching digital journalism and social media; he will continue to be on the faculty, occasionally teaching there. He has partnered with many departments across campus, serving as a sounding board, guest speaker, informal consultant and more. Among the honors Sree has received are being named to several lists of digital- and social-media professors to follow; AdAge’s 25 media people to follow on Twitter; and Newsweek’s list of the 20 most influential South Asians in America. I am confident that Sree’s experience in academic administration and his widely respected expertise in new media technology make him uniquely well-suited for this challenge. You can connect with him on Twitter (@sree) or or the old-fashioned way, via email. Please join me in welcoming Sree in his new position. Sincerely, John H. Coatsworth Provost

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2013-02-15 16:00

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