Changing the Way We Do College
July 8, 2013
There has been much in the news lately about MOOCs, Massive Open Online Courses, and how they are transforming the way college instruction is delivered.
Rather than assembling a few dozen students in a classroom where a professor will lecture for an hour or so, the professor in a MOOC lectures on video to as many as tens of thousands of students clustered around computer monitors around the world. The professor may be one of the world’s eminent scholars on the subject, from one of the most prestigious universities in the world. The course may or may not be free. There may or may not be credit. There will, however, be minimal interaction between student and professor, and the likelihood of the student ever finishing the course is less than 10 percent.
MOOCs are the correspondence courses of the new millennium. A hundred years ago, students could “correspond” with college professors through the mail; in the digital age, distance learning is achieved online. Many of the same benefits apply to both: access to college education and flexibility for those who cannot take time to come to campus for a class. In both cases, working adults make up most of the students.
Economics also plays a role. As college costs and student debt continue to mount, students are looking for different models, and the expediency of course content delivered online can seem very attractive.
There are those who believe that the MOOC model represents a paradigm shift in the way America will do college. They think computer screens will replace campuses and classrooms and that the college experience will be pared back to simply receiving content in the most direct way possible.
If that’s the case, then what are the implications for the traditional college experience? What happens to campus life? What about athletics? What about residential life?
While I do believe MOOCs may become an important part of the landscape of higher education, I don’t see them replacing brick and mortar colleges anytime soon. Too many students require interaction with a faculty member in order to understand course material. Likewise, there must be a way to verify that learning has taken place and that content has been mastered. What I do believe will happen more and more is that colleges, including Dalton State, will continue to add more options for content delivery.
To that end, Dalton State joins Valdosta State as the first two participants of the University System of Georgia’s eMajor program which can deliver an entire bachelor’s degree program online.
The eMajor degree offered through Dalton State is a Bachelor of Science in Organizational Development; students can choose to concentrate in Healthcare Administration, Legal Office Administration, Office Administration and Technology, or Public Service Administration. A concentration in Spanish for Professionals is in development.
The eMajor is affordable ($250 per credit hour plus technology fee) and is designed for working adults who want to start or resume a college career but don’t have the time to come to campus for classes. Because all instruction is delivered online, students can live anywhere in the world, making eMajor is an ideal solution for military personnel and others who are not place-bound.
A key attribute of the eMajor is that students can receive college credit for learning received from past experience. By demonstrating mastery of specific course objectives by examination or through a rigorous review of a Prior Learning Assessment portfolio, students can receive up to 30 hours of credit toward their degree.
Each online course will enroll a maximum of 35 students who will have the opportunity to develop relationship with faculty and with each other. It is not a MOOC, but eMajor is an online solution that could be just the right fit for many working adults eager to earn a college degree.