Thursday, March 12, 2015

Reflections on Life in Educational Media

I spent virtually my whole career working in educational media of various kinds.  Here are some recollections:
Growing Up With Media
            I was born in 1948—part of the first blush of the Baby Boom.  And, although no one knew at the time, we were also part of the first blush of the Information Revolution.   Like many other aspects of the late 20th century, its roots were in the second of the World Wars that put a punctuation mark on the old traditions of Western Civilization and, at the same time, drove dramatic technological innovation.  ENIAC, the first computer, went online in 1938.  The first commercial television station went on-air in 1941.  Little did we know that the next generation would bring not only a revolution in the global political structure but a social and economic transformation as technology created a new global information society.
            My mother, my brother and I lived with my grandparents in a one-bedroom house that my grandfather had built on the edge of his lot as a temporary home while he built the big house.  Unfortunately, the big house never got built, and we all crowded into the little house, just as their five children had done in the 1920s and 1930s.  
            When I was very young, “media” meant “music.”  We had an old player piano, a Victorola with a great collection of 1940s 78 rpm records—the Ink Spots were my favorite—and, of course, a radio.  In fact, we had two radios; an old floor model and a new battery-powered portable.  I remember listening to the Lone Ranger on the radio and my grandmother listening to her soaps.  The record player got the best workout, though.  There were no headphones or ear buds.  When one of us listened to music, we all did.   In addition to the Ink Spots, we listened to Vaughan Monroe, the Mariners, and others from the swing period, when my mother was on her own and bought a lot of music. 
            I loved the radio, too.  My favorite station was WHOT in Youngstown, Ohio, and disc jockey Boots Bell, the Booter Scooter.  But late at night, my brother and I would try to tune in to Cincinnati and Barney Pip (who later moved to Chicago).  It sounded like music from Mars.
            By then, of course, we had television.  We got our first television set around 1956.  It was a Philco black and white console.  When it was delivered, the delivery man set it on Channel 27—WKBN, the CBS affiliate in Youngstown, Ohio.   My grandfather had been the first on our street to buy a radio back in the 30s, but was not comfortable with the new technology.  He would never allow us to change the channel for fear that we would break the set.  So we watched CBS for the next few years.  Ed Sullivan, Gunsmoke, I’ve Got a Secret, The Garry Moore Show, The Twilight Zone, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.  And, of course, Walter Cronkite.  It wasn’t a bad fate.  I had to go to my friend’s house down the street to watch Bonanza, though.
            In 1960, my grandfather died.  Soon after, we changed the channel and, you guessed it, we soon broke the channel changer.  We had to reach inside the back of the set to change channels, using a little mirror to fine-tune the station.   Eventually, we got a new set and one of my uncles set up an antenna on a pole so that we could get both UHF and VHF stations.  Now, we could tune in stations in Youngstown, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh.  Life was good. 
            One night in 1963, my friend Ken called from down the street.  He knew that our TV was broken, and he wanted to share the news:  “There’s going to be a war,” he said.  “Come down and watch.”  It was, of course, the Cuban Missile Crisis.   I went down to Ken’s house and watched President Kennedy’s speech with Ken, his sisters, parents, and grandmother.   It was social media for those days.    The Beatles arrival in the U.S. and their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show is another example.  Everyone watched it, it seemed.  I was in high school and working evenings at Little Italy, a family-owned Italian restaurant.  The owner, Mrs. Bishop, brought a TV in so that the family and their guests would miss neither the Beatles nor her mother’s great wedding soup!
            Radio provided portable media.  It was in our cars, so we could take music with us everywhere, but there was nothing so good as sitting on the front porch with Ken on a hot summer day, listening to the Pirates or the Indians.   Baseball was an ideal radio game.  You didn’t really need to see it to enjoy it, and the pace was very comfortable on a sunny summer afternoon.   
Public Television: Serving Communities
            In 1968, I transferred from Penn State’s Shenango Campus to the main campus, University Park, to complete my undergraduate degree.  I had been a Journalism major, but switched to English, which had an honors program that included small seminars rather than large classes.  I was interested in media, but unsure how to navigate this large campus.  I volunteered at the student radio station—WDFM—but that was limited to coming in between classes and writing some public service announcements.  I never connected with anyone.  I also trained as a camera operator for the University Division of Instructional Services, which operated an on-campus television studio that recorded class lectures and distributed courses through a network that linked 24 classes with one-way video and two-way audio (more on that later). 
            I was still waiting to hear about a job with UDIS when a neighbor in my dorm suggested that I go across the street to Wagner Building, which housed the ROTC and where, three years earlier, the university had opened a public television station, WPSX-TV.  “You’re a writer,” he said.  “Maybe they will hire you to write press releases or something.”  So I went and was hired as a part-time production assistant.  For the next two years, I learned television production from the ground up—set design, lighting, audio, camera—and got wonderful experience in helping to create a wide range of television programs, from talk shows to studio concerts and, of course, sports. 
            When I graduated, the operations manager (later station manager), David Phillips, hired me full-time, and suddenly, I had a career.  I stayed in Production for the next year, then moved into Programming, where I was responsible for the daily program log and on-air promotion.  From there, I moved into Public Information—and wrote a lot of press releases.  After a few years, that position expanded to Viewer Services, in which role I was responsible for various ways to engage viewers.  The station’s founding manager, Marlowe Froke, counseled me that a press release was the first step toward creating an educated viewer—one who would be better able to grasp the program’s message.   Our monthly program guide allowed us to do longer background features on new programs.  Beyond that, we engaged the viewer by providing supplementary materials (viewer guides and so forth) for special programs, by connecting with community organizations, sending faculty out to libraries to discuss program content, and, ultimately, by offering courses around broadcasts—telecourses, as they came to be called.
            In those days, “public” television was very much “educational” television. 
Before the station went on the air in March 1965, Marlowe Froke had met with superintendents of school districts throughout the station’s 29-county viewing area to discuss how television programs could be used to support their curricula.  The result was the Allegheny Educational Broadcast Council (AEBC), a nonprofit corporations through which participating school districts selected educational programs at all levels of the K-12 curriculum.  The station then acquired them and devoted its daytime schedule—from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. to broadcasting programs that teachers could use to enhance their local classes.   School districts paid a small per-student fee to fund coordination, printed teacher guides, professional education programs for teachers, etc.  The Department of Education helped to fund program acquisition and some production.   Programs were acquired from other stations and state educational television networks around the country and from Province-wide educational television centers in Canada (places like TV Ontario).  It was a model used by many public TV stations around the country.  In many ways, it was a precursor to today’s Open Educational Resources movement.
            The AEBC was a good early example of how educational media can bring institutions and people together around a common mission.   It was essential in a one-way broadcast environment, especially in pre-cable days.
            The station also had a University of the Air program, broadcasting courses for adults.  These included Your Future Is Now, a GED preparation course, as well as college credit courses.  Originally, the broadcasts were accompanied by periodic face-to-face sessions, limiting the effective range of the program.  Later, the video lessons were integrated with the University’s Independent Study by Correspondence program, making them available to anyone who could receive the signal.
Instructional Media: Engaging Students
            Public broadcasting was a new twist on a long tradition of educational media at Penn State.   As early as the 1940s, Dr. C.R. Carpenter had experimented with the use of film for training.  In the 1950s, he received a Ford Foundation grant to experiment with instructional uses of video on campus.   As the campus burgeoned with returning GIs, the University created a Division of Instructional Services that included television and film studios, along with graphic and photographic services and an audio-visual library.
            One of the key services of UDIS was an on-campus one-way video, two-way audio cable system that connected 24 classrooms to a television studio.   Each classroom could accommodate around 30 students, so the system allowed one faculty member (with assistants in each classroom) to teach over 600 students at a time.  This allowed the University to accommodate the increasing demand for popular courses.  One of the most popular courses offered through this system was Accounting 101—Introduction to Accounting.  It was taught by Dr. Kenneth Nelson, who used the system for over twenty years.  He was a master at engaging students at a distance.   He would identify a student who had a birthday and ask members of that student’s classroom to sing “Happy Birthday.”  In Spring semester, he would give a mid-term right before Spring Break.   The crew would create a beach setting in the studio.  Ken would appear, sitting on a beach chair with a straw hat on his head, and tell the students, “I’m already on break.  You can join me as soon as you finish your mid-term!”  In this way, he taught more than half of the students who had ever taken Introduction to Accounting at Penn State.
            In Engineering, one faculty member would rush over to the studio after class and record solutions to the problems he had just assigned.  These would then be taken to the reserved reading room of the library, so that students could check their work or get help if they were stuck on a problem.
            Audio-Visual Services served both internal and external audiences.  It acquired film and video programs that faculty members wanted to use in their classes.  It also libraried film and video produced by faculty and made these available for sale and rental to schools, colleges and other customers worldwide.  For example, AV Services distributed films that Penn State Anthropology Professor Napoleon Chagnon’s made during his research visits with the Yanamamo Indians of Brazil.  It is a model that could easily be adapted in today’s online world as an Open Educational Resource library.
            In 1980, the University combined UDIS and public broadcasting into a new unit called the Division of Media and Learning Resources, headed by Marlowe Froke, who had founded WPSX-TV.  This new unit was housed under the Vice President for Continuing Education.  It brought together two Continuing Education units--WPSX-TV and the Department of Independent Learning by Correspondence—and all of the UDIS units. It also included a new unit—the Department of Instructional Media, which I was asked to lead.  This unit combined the instructional production and delivery services of WPSX-TV with production support for on-campus courses.   Media-based distance education courses were now offered through Independent Learning, so that we could easily serve the entire viewing area and, soon, reach far beyond campus.
Cable and Satellite: Networking
            The Information Revolution hit educational television with a double punch in the late 1970s, as both cable and satellite television took their places in the educational media infrastructure.   Pennsylvania—with its many small towns and rural areas—had given birth to cable television.  In 1976, a group of cable operators approached WPSX about creating a statewide educational cable television channel, called PENNARAMA.   The system was fully operational by 1983, creating a great demand for video-based telecourses.    
            Around the country, local cable operators were making channels available to local colleges and universities to offer courses.  The growing ability to network the delivery of educational media was already stimulating the growth of consortia and distribution partnerships.  One was the To Educate the People Consortium—a partnership among labor unions, Wayne State University and other Detroit-area institutions, and Detroit-based auto manufacturers.  Another was the University of Mid-America, which brought together the resources of several higher education and educational broadcast organizations in the Midwest.  A third was the Telecourse People, an association of community college public television licensees that combined resources to share telecourses among themselves and to license them to others.
            Glenn Jones, a native Pennsylvanian and a visionary cable operator who owned Jones Intercable, created the Mind Extension University with the goal of offering access to higher education on a national scale via cable.  That initiative eventually evolved into Jones International University.
            Around the same time, we joined a regional experiment in the use of satellites to distribute media- based education.  Called the Appalachian Educational Satellite Program (AESP), the program was headquartered at the University of Kentucky and led by Nofflet Williams, one of the great innovators of this early period.   Growing up in rural Alabama, Nofflet had a lifelong commitment to providing access to education to those who had lacked access due to location, time, or money.  The AESP used an experimental ATS-6 satellite to bring graduate-level courses in nursing and education and professional development programs for firefighters and others to remote communities up and down the Appalachian range, partnering with local colleges and public education agencies to provide the needed local coordination.  It was the first satellite-delivered graduate education program.   I was the point person for Penn State’s participation and worked with area Intermediate Units and Penn State campuses to promote the use of courses that could be downlinked from AESP’s satellite.  AESP evolved with the technology; as cable television adopted satellite to interconnect individual cable systems, it became, first, the Appalachian Community Service Network and, eventually, the Learning Channel.  Nofflet went on to become the Dean of Distance Education at the University of Kentucky and was widely honored as an influential pioneer and leader in the field. 
            In 1978, the Public Broadcasting Service shifted to satellite to distribute its programs nationally.  This was a watershed in American educational media.  It transformed how we used video to distribute education.  The immediate impact was that every public television station in the country had a satellite downlink and that many also had uplinks.  This allowed a stronger national program schedule, but it also gave stations a huge advantage in sharing programs within the network.  It also meant that stations—especially those licensed to educational institutions—could share nonbroadcast resources among themselves.  Within a couple of years, several new services arose.
            PBS responded by creating the Adult Learning Service (ALS).  ALS became a national distributor of video-based telecourses.  It would acquire distribution rights to courses produced by member stations or other agencies.  Local public TV stations would then preview the telecourses with higher education institutions in their viewing areas.  If an institution wanted to offer a course, it would work through the local station to license it from PBS (usually at a cost of $300 per offering, plus $15 per enrolled student); the station would then broadcast it (or make it available on a local cable channel).   This, in turn, created new channels of communication between stations and the higher education institutions in their areas.
            Other kinds of networks using the PBS satellite system emerged among university licensees.  One was the National University Teleconference Network (NUTN), organized by Oklahoma State University to allow universities to offer live, noncredit, educational conferences nationally.  Essentially, any NUTN institution could announce plans to offer a national satellite teleconference. Member institutions wishing to offer the teleconference locally would license it and arrange for a viewing room with audio feedback to the originating institution.  When the conference was offered, all sites could show the event in their local meeting rooms and have local participants ask questions via telephone or return audio.  The first national teleconference that Penn State produced for NUTN featured faculty from Penn State’s Department of Nuclear Engineering.  It offered faculty and researchers at other institutions around the country the opportunity to see video shot in the damaged nuclear reactors at Three Mile Island and get an evaluation of the damage and possible solutions.
            Another example is Ag*Sat—the Agricultural Satellite Network—later renamed ADEC—the American Distance Education Consortium.   Headquartered at the University of Nebraska, Ag*Sat connected Agricultural Extension centers at land grant colleges around the nation.  Originally, the focus was on sharing specialized agricultural research and education programs, ensuring that the best research on any topic was available to all interested states.  Over time, Ag*Sat expanded to include historically black institutions and Hispanic-serving institutions, as well as institutions from Latin America. 
            In the midst of this storm of technological innovation, Walter Annenberg, the publisher of TV Guide, gave a $150 million grant to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to fund the development of high-quality telecourses that would feed the growing demand for educational media via broadcast, cable, and satellite distribution.  The result was a series of prime time PBS telecourses that raised the quality bar and further stimulated interest in using these delivery systems.
UMUC: Innovating on a Global Scale
            Another entry into this increasingly complex environment was the International University Consortium.  IUC was the brainchild of Allan Hershfield at the University of Maryland University College.   Dedicated to serving adult students, UMUC had established a curriculum on the model of the British Open University (BOU—now the Open University of the United Kingdom), which had been established in 1970.  The BOU offered highly interdisciplinary courses that included television documentaries produced by the BBC, along with study guides and texts.  Typically, one Open University course was equal to three or more courses in the American curriculum.  IUC was a partnership between UMUC and Maryland Public Broadcasting to adapt Open University courses to the North American curriculum.  It then licensed the adapted materials to its member institutions, which offered them locally.  Early members were leaders in media-based distance education in the U.S. and Canada.  Over time, institutions in Australia, Hong Kong, Brazil, and other nations joined, and IUC began to develop its own courses through the academic resources of the Consortium’s member institutions.
            I joined UMUC as Executive Director of IUC in 1987, when the founding Executive Director, Allan Hershfield, was named UMUC Vice President, reporting to President Benjamin Massey.  An institution fully committed to serving the adult, part-time student, UMUC was incredibly innovative.  While its foundation was in providing higher education access to U.S. military on overseas bases in Europe and Asia, in the 1980s it was also expanding its programs for adults in the D.C. suburbs.   A major innovation was a set of open learning degree programs based on the model of the British Open University—an innovation that had given rise to the International University Consortium.  At the same time, UMUC operated a video production center, a dedicated cable channel in Prince George’s County, and the ability to deliver live video lectures, with audio feedback, to remote classrooms in Southern Maryland and in the northern suburbs. 
            UMUC also operated the Center for Instructional Development and Evaluation, a large unit staffed with media specialists and instructional designers.  CIDE developed media-based courses for UMUC’s undergraduate and graduate programs, but it also attracted federal contracts that allowed it to innovate on the cutting edge of technology.   One example:  a videodisc-based training program for the National Agricultural Library.  Their contract-based experiments with innovative, technology-based training and education packages gave UMUC a head start in the digital era.
            In the early 1990s, a group of electrical power companies approached the University of Maryland about creating a degree program in nuclear science that could be delivered electronically to sites in Wisconsin, South Carolina, Texas, and elsewhere.  They hired many technical staff from the U.S. Navy Submarine Corps and were concerned that the government would require these professionals to have degrees.  The College of Engineering at the College Park campus worked with UMUC to create the degree, which was one of the first university degrees to be offered at a distance online.   Today, UMUC is a major provider of online degree programs.
            While UMUC was experimenting with online education, national attention was on the rise of interactive videoconferencing.  The University of Maryland System created an Institute for Distance Education designed to help the 14 System institutions make the most of this networked approach to education.   By that time, my role had evolved into that of Associate Vice President for Program Development.  As such, I chaired the Institute, working with many UMS institutions to explore how interactive video could be used to extend programs from one campus to another.
Back to Penn State: The World Campus
            In 1993, Penn State stepped back and took a fresh look at its long tradition of distance education.  The University had been one of the pioneers in distance education, dating back to 1892, when it was one of the first three higher education institutions to develop correspondence courses, using the then new Rural Free Delivery to offer a “Home Reading Program” in agriculture.  As cable, satellite, interactive video, and interactive computer-based technologies arose, the University decided that distance education should be more mainstreamed and created the position of Assistant Vice President for Distance Education.  I was invited by Jim Ryan, the Vice President for Continuing and Distance Education, to take on this new role and returned to the University in January 1994.
            Initially, the emphasis at Penn State was, like the University of Maryland System, interactive video networking.  In 1995, we received funds from the AT&T Foundation to support a multi-year Innovations in Distance Education project, in collaboration with two other Pennsylvania institutions—Cheney University and Lincoln University.  The goal was to explore both operational and policy issues in technology-based distance education.  We held a series of three invitational policy seminars that explored policy issues from the perspective of administration, faculty, and learner support, out of which a set of 25 guiding principles emerged in five main areas:  Learning Goals and Content Presentation, Interaction, Assessment and Measurement, Learner Support and Services, and Instructional Media and Tools.
            At that time, most of the computer-based innovation at Penn State was being done by the central Information Technology unit, with a focus on resident instruction.   However, that changed in the summer of 1996, when Penn State President Graham Spanier called a few people into his office.  He had been to a meeting of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) where he had learned of plans to create a Western Governors University that would use online technology to ensure access to needed degree programs throughout the multi-state WICHE area.  He came to the conclusion that online learning was the way of the future. 
            We have three choices, he told the group.  One, we can say that this new technology is not for us and continue to do what we have been doing with satellite and interactive video, plus correspondence study.  Two, we can experiment with online learning without backing away from our commitment to these other media. Or, three, we can make a full commitment to the online environment and put all our resources there.   In the end, though, he believed that the third option was the only viable path forward.  If we don’t invest now in online learning, we will be left behind, he said.
            Jim Ryan and I were asked to put together a brief backgrounder for the University’s leadership.  President Spanier then named a Study Team to explore the idea further and to come up with a strategic plan for the development of what he was calling the World Campus (after a suggestion by Fred Gage at our Berks Campus).   The Study Team included the leaders of key units whose support would be vital to the World Campus’ success: Enrollment Management, Budget Office, Library, Information Technology, Graduate School, Undergraduate Education, several campuses, several key academic colleges, and representatives of the Faculty Senate and Graduate Council.   Acknowledging that it would be hard to get this group together regularly, everyone agreed to meet over dinner every Thursday evening from November 1996 through March 1997.  At the end, we had a 70+ page report that included a vision and business model for the World Campus.
            At the same time, Jim Ryan and I began meeting with leaders of the individual academic colleges to discuss the World Campus and identify possible degree and certificate programs that the academic units thought might succeed online.  At the end of the process, we had identified around 90 possible programs.   Penn State already had contact with the Sloan Foundation’s Asynchronous Learning Systems program, headed by Dr. Frank Mayadas.  Frank had visited Penn State in the early 1990s to explore the potential of online learning.  When I returned from Maryland, Penn State was completing grant to develop a multi-media test preparation program for the Professional Engineering Examination.   As the Study Team’s work wound down, we got a small director’s grant to conduct secondary market research around these programs.  The result was a list of 25 programs with high potential for success.  We then submitted a much larger proposal to the Sloan Foundation to underwrite the start-up costs.  That grant was funded in June of 1997, and the World Campus launched in January 1998 with four courses and 48 enrollments.
            The World Campus has grown steadily since then.   Today, it boasts more than 40 undergraduate degrees and certificates and more than 60 professional masters degrees and post-baccalaureate certificate programs, serving over 14,000 students in all fifty states and over 40 countries around the world.   I am happy to say that, in 2015, it was named the top online undergraduate program by US News and World Report.
            Starting with that first Study Team, the World Campus has been an institution-wide team effort.   Faculty have support from instructional designers, media content developers, and editors.   Over the years, some of the more active colleges have created their own course design support units, so that instructional designers can be more integrated into the academic culture of the college.  On the other end, student support has proven to essential to helping adult learners survive the sometime delicate act of balancing learning, working, family and simply living.   These services surely will continue to be important, even as online learning becomes more mainstreamed.
            Just as the Internet has transformed many other aspects of daily life, online learning is proving to be part of a true revolution in how we conduct education at institutions around the world.  More colleges and universities than ever before are reaching beyond their campuses to serve working adults and other students who could not otherwise attend their classes.  In addition, online learning is allowing faculty members to greatly increase student engagement in learning, both on campus and at a distance.  It has eliminated distance and time as limiting factors in how higher education reaches and engages students.  In the process, it has helped position higher education to better serve our communities as they transform themselves to meet the new challenges that are inherent in the emerging global information society. 
            That said, there is still much to be done—and some lessons to be learned from earlier technologies.  I was surprised, when the World Campus came along, about the new community that was forming around online learning.   Previously, people tended to organize themselves around not the technology per se, but its use.  For instance, those of us using public broadcasting, cable, and interactive video formed a new division within what was then called the National University Extension Association (now UPCEA—University Professional and Continuing Education Association).   NUTN—the National University Teleconference Network—was also an association of continuing education folks.  Similarly, AG*Sat brought together Cooperative Extension leaders and counterparts at Historically Black Institutions and Hispanic Serving Institutions who were interested in collaborating via satellite.   It was an association of continuing education/extension/outreach units in public universities, and we all tended to report to the Vice President or Dean of Continuing Education at our institutions.  However, when online came along, there was no common reporting line.  Some online initiatives reported to the Vice Provost for Information Technology; other initiatives were housed in a particular academic program; others were in the Provost’s Office or reported directly to the President; and, indeed, some reported to the Vice President for Continuing Education.   Frank Mayadas at the Sloan Foundation did a wonderful service to the field by bringing together all of his grantees for annual conferences about progress in the field.  These evolved over time into the Sloan Consortium (now the Online Learning Consortium).  It was inevitable, however, that we would lose some of the knowledge and, more importantly, institutional relationships that had grown up in these other venues.
            One of the things we missed early on was the spirit of collaboration and sharing that had marked early distance education efforts.   Online learning brought new institutions into the distance education community; it also focused on complete degree programs, making competition a real issue in some disciplines.  This was a significant change from earlier technologies.  The land grant universities offering correspondence study programs had set the example by publishing an annual catalog that listed correspondence courses available from all institutions.  They also tended to share course materials and help each other out by proctoring exams for students who lived in their states.   Resource sharing was absolutely vital to the use of telecourses via public broadcasting.  The entire purpose of PBS-ALS was to aggregate available telecourses and license their use out to other institutions served by local PBS stations.  That was also true of the Telecourse People and the International University Consortium.  The idea of sharing has come more slowly to the online learning environment.  An early major effort was the Open Educational Resources movement, which began as an international effort to share online resources.  In the United States, community colleges have been the major group to pick up on this idea, since they tend not to compete with each other for students.  The Great Plains Institutional Distance Education Alliance (IDEA) demonstrated another kind of collaboration:  institutions sharing faculty resources and courses in order to be able to offer more robust graduate degree offerings to students in the institutions’ home states.  Given the number and variety of institutions now offering online courses, sharing would seem to be increasingly important so that institutions waste little time duplicating the same course over and over.  As with textbooks, the true value of a course should be less in the materials than in the unique interactions between faculty members and students and among student communities.
            In the long run, the online environment would seem to support academic partnerships that go beyond instruction to include collaborative research, technology transfer, and consulting.   There have been several limited university-industry collaborations that are providing models for this more engaged approach to using technology.
            A second area where we have lost initiative through technology change is the idea of higher education partnering with the public schools to improve the school curriculum.  That was the original focus of educational/public television in the 1960s.   Today, policy makers are beginning to see the need to regain the momentum here.  Extending the Open Educational Resources idea to the schools is one option. In the sixties, public broadcasting was the broker that made the connection between school need and delivery of resources.  Fifty years later, we need a new broker.   The second option is for universities to make some online courses available as “dual enrollment” courses, through which students can earn credit toward high school graduation while simultaneously earning college credit.
            The U.S. Department of Education has estimated that, in order for the U.S. to continue to compete in the global information society, we need to increase the percentage of high school graduates who go on to college from the current rate of 39% to about 60%.  The problem is that, today, most kids who graduate from high school ready to go to college already do so.  Thus, in order to meet the increased need fore more college graduates, we need to increase the number of high school students who are ready for college when they graduate.  In the 1960s, the American response to Sputnik drove investments in the production and broadcast of instructional television for the schools. In 2015, STEM and both the workforce and citizenship needs of the global information society should drive investments in OERs and dual enrollment online courses. 
            Above all, it is important that institutions not define online learning by the technologies they use but by the services they provide, so that they can be flexible and innovative as new technologies arise, as they most inevitably will.

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