May 23, 2016
New Global Online Education Projects Selected for Duke Support
By Lynne O’Brien This academic year, Online Duke, along with Provost Sally Kornbluth and The Office of Global Strategy and Programs, released our fourth call for proposals for Duke faculty online education projects. For the previous three calls, we asked faculty to submit their ideas for developing massive open online courses or other experimental uses […]
By Lynne O’Brien
This academic year, Online Duke, along with Provost Sally Kornbluth and The Office of Global Strategy and Programs, released our fourth call for proposals for Duke faculty online education projects. For the previous three calls, we asked faculty to submit their ideas for developing massive open online courses or other experimental uses of online technologies and approaches in their teaching.
This year we asked specifically for projects that would add a global component to an instructor’s teaching. With increasing interest in connecting Duke’s students and scholars with our globalized world and the recent opening of Duke Kunshan University, online technologies and teaching methods offer unique opportunities to bring global perspectives to Duke courses, develop educational experiences with global partners, and share Duke education with individuals around the world.
I am impressed by the abundance of ideas and enthusiasm from Duke instructors in response to our call for proposals. The winning projects took advantage of technology to do things not easily done face to face, were feasible within the funding and one-year time frame and were likely to be sustained in the future.
Beyond the selected projects, the entire field of proposals shows interest in online education at Duke is growing. They represented an opportunity for me to see how faculty members think about online education. A few trends surfaced in the proposals, and they reflect some of the trends I see in higher education generally:
- Modular content – Faculty are developing online materials in shorter segments so they can be easily moved into different instructional offerings and used for more than one purpose. Modularity makes it easier to update materials regularly.
- Combining online and in-person in one class – Discussions around the value of online education have shifted from debating the merits of completely online versus completely in-person courses. Instead, faculty are blending online and in-person to get the best of both worlds. For example, they are creating video lectures to free up class time for more meaningful discussions and projects or using web conferencing during class to have a live Q&A with an expert located on another continent.
- Flexible models of credit and non-credit education – I was initially surprised to find that prospective students, current undergrads and graduate students and alumni were enrolled in Duke MOOCs. In talking with these individuals, I’ve learned that people have educational interests beyond credit-based courses, whether exploring a possible major, developing a specific skill or preparing for a research project. We are beginning to explore more systematically how non-credit use of online materials can supplement and enhance degree offerings.
Innovating with online education helps Duke learn what is educationally effective and best aligned with Duke’s goals and allows us to influence the direction of online education more broadly. As we move into the new school year, I look forward to seeing what we can learn from the new projects. In addition, Online Duke will continue to experiment with how we can best support Duke’s faculty and programs while keeping up with increasing demand, rapidly evolving technologies, and shifts in the higher education landscape.
Lynne O’Brien is Associate Vice Provost for Digital and Online Education Initiatives at Duke University. She leads Online Duke, a university-wide initiative to advance educational excellence through online teaching and learning.