online face to face

The New York Times held a Schools for Tomorrow Conference in New York City on September 17th 2013 entitled Virtual U: The Coming of Age of Online Education.  I share five quotes from national leaders with you, four of which were from a discussion entitled, “Has the University as an Institution Had its Day?” and one from a discussion entitled, “Increasing Higher Education Affordability and Completion through Online Innovations.” (Scroll through the presentations on the above link to find these titles).

Has the University as an Institution Had its Day?

Anant Agarwal,  President of edX (edX is an online learning initiative of MIT and Harvard)
“We can do much better in terms of quality of education by bringing in the best of online technologies and in person technologies on campuses.  Replacing the traditional lecture with learning sequences…where you bring the Socratic Method into practice where students watch videos and interactive exercises before coming to class and have discussions with the professors.”

Sal Kahn, founder of The Khan Academy
“The hyperbole around this is not justified, it is not like the tsunami is going to hit in five years and [residential] education is going to go away.  People always make technology the issue, but I think the real issue is cost.  Anything that grows 3-4-5% faster than the rate of inflation will reach a breaking point.  Education is always going to exist, but this is an opportunity to think about how it can be done in more interesting ways.  What is the best way to run a lecture? MIT has been running classrooms with 300 students and a professor in the front for hundreds of years without thinking, is this the best way for students to learn.  Just as everyone should be skeptical about online education, they should say, ‘How do we know this works?  Does this improve outcomes? Does this improve retention?’ Those same questions start to be reflected on the physical experience.”

Biddy Martin, President of Amherst College
“The hype is not warranted and the universities and colleges as we know them are not about to end. Teaching has changed over the past 300 years.  Everyone in higher education should want online education, the best forms of it, to succeed.  Why, because of the extraordinary need for education and knowledge in the world and the intense hunger that is being revealed by the success of online education.  We also should want it to succeed because of how residential education can be improved in significant ways.  I want residential education to integrate what makes sense to integrate.”

Nancy Zimpher, Chancellor of SUNY
“What we are really thinking about is that market, that for a whole host of reasons, can’t come to the campus, does not prefer to come to the campus, is too old to think about the campus experience but needs to be educated or reeducated to the workforce of today and tomorrow…and we’ve got to do a lot better job of how to package an online experience that speaks to that market.  And, I think higher education has to think about enrollment strategies beyond the margins. Most of our campuses might grow enrollment by 1 or 2% might decline by 1 or 2%. There is a changing high school demography that will cause our enrollments to flatten.  But there are so many other thousands and thousands who are seeking what we have and we have to find a new distribution system that draws on the talents of our faculty and meets the needs of the market.”

Later in the discussion when talking about the assessment of learning, Chancellor Zimpher said, “We’re beginning to translate learning and success as ability to have an applied learning experience.  Higher education has talked about this and uses it in service learning, but now increasingly we’re talking about internships (supervised and hopefully paid internships) and co-op experiences where you get to test out whether what you have learned has application in the job market.”

There was another panel discussion entitled,
Increasing Higher Education Affordability and Completion through Online InnovationsHere is one quote from that presentation:

Mark Becker, President of Georgia State University
“When we think about technology and how do we innovate, the fundamental question is, how do we increasingly personalize the student experience in a large institution? I once heard that the original MOOC was the 400 student lecture class.  The issue we look at, when you have 24,000 undergraduates and 8,000 graduate students on your campus, how do you scale up the personal experience so that students are more successful?  The reality today is that only about half of the students who begin college actually graduate and really it should be that everyone who starts college graduates.  Part of that is actually having an environment where students stay engaged and learn much more consistently.  Is the MOOC, tablet or some online format the replacement for textbooks?   How do you use technology so that you disrupt by replacing that which is routine with technology but still use humans in ways where they actually do what they have done better than anything else forever?”

I share these quotes with you as an invitation to think about what we must do now and in the near future to evolve education in a way that best serves our students and our college.  The last two graduate programs we initiated in the EHHS Division are hybrid by design involving online instruction, face-to-face instruction, and extensive hands-on field work/internships.  Several programs in the design phase will use this model too.  Based on the above comments, we are in line with the thinking of national experts who are considering best models for education.  The challenge we have before us is how to update our existing programs and classes to use best practice for online learning and face-to-face learning.  Face-to-face learning in residential colleges/universities and online learning are not dichotomous.  I feel it is the blended best of each that will be most successful.  Sal Kahn said, “The gold standard will be leveraging the online to get the global voice and then bringing that in – you can call that flipping – so we can have a face-to-face conversation about it.”

What do you or can you do to support your face-to-face classes with online materials?  What do you do or can you do in your online classes to make the experience more personal?

Tonight, when I teach my face-to-face graduate class, my students will have already reviewed information I put online, that in years past, I used to spend three hours presenting in class.  I will hold the face-to-face portion of my class in the CDS Voice Lab where learning to think like a Speech-Language Pathologist, by applying the material learned online, will be the focus through case presentations of my former clients.  The presentations are engaging and required application of knowledge learned online.

I look forward to discussing how your face-to-face and online teaching have evolved to improve learning through the blending of best practices from multiple formats.

EHHS Shared value emphasized:   Excellence in Teaching

  • Engage students
  • Recognize and respond to student needs

The New York Times Schools for Tomorrow Conference in New York City on September 17th entitled Virtual U: The Coming of Age of Online Education.

Image (2011). Retrieved September 29, 2013 from: