Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Online Learning What’s Next?

Thomas Snyder, President of Ivy Tech Community College (http://www.ivytech.edu/) blogged recently for the Huffington Post about his beliefs that the future of higher education lies with online learning.

In his blog, he confirmed what many of us know to be true on our own campuses that increasingly, colleges and university students find themselves with other obligations beyond getting a degree. Jobs and family commitments demand time and attention. As such, the flexibility of online education is very attractive. At the same time, he says, “many state institutions are unable to accommodate all those who want to take classes on campus, escalating the demand for online learning.”

With the onslaught of MOOCs, lifelong learning has become so easy and free. Moreover, says Snyder, “in today's job market, taking online courses help workers remain competitive and they don't need to take time off from their jobs to do this.”

Community colleges such as Ivy Tech have been in the forefront of online learning. In 2010-11 “Ivy Tech in Indiana had more than 79,000 unduplicated students in 300 credit earning online courses.” Ivy Tech community College also works directly with local businesses to help supply a trained workforce to meet their future needs. “Online learning not only trains the workers of the future, it can also provide a career path for someone employed, who needs to learn new skills” says Snyder.

Using a learning application such as Blackboard, that seamlessly integrates additional software applications and social media, making it possible to create online communities that are course specific enhance the learner experience. “Blogs, tweets, podcasts, webcasts, online chats, discussion boards, and virtual study jams are all part of the online mix. Success in an online course often depends on how connected a student feels to his instructor and fellow students” says President Snyder as well as other industry leaders.

In order for high quality online education to be successful, instructional faculty needs to re-orient their pedagogical approach. At the University of the District of Columbia we have two pathways for online teaching certification. Many institutions across the United States require faculty online teaching certification or training before they teach an online course. In addition to faculty skills and abilities and student motivation, we might consider how best to serve these “mobile” learners. I use mobile in the physical sense.

President Snyder suggests the development of a national transfer pool to enable transferability of online course credit taken anywhere in the country and transferred to the student's home institution. Prior to becoming president of Ivy Tech, Thomas Snyder worked in corporate America.

Source: Tom Snyder, President of Ivy Tech Community College. The Benefits of Online Learning Posted: 01/30/2013 8:21 am http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tom-snyder/the-benefits-of-online-le_b_2573991.html

About Thomas Snyder: Thomas J. Snyder serves as president of Ivy Tech Community College, the largest institution of higher education in Indiana and the nation's largest singly-accredited statewide community college system.

Appointed in 2007, President Snyder leads the strategic, academic and operational processes of Indiana's largest and fastest growing college serving more than 200,000 students annually at 30 campuses and 100 learning centers that provide a full-spectrum of educational resources, transfer credits, associate degrees, workforce training and professional certification (http://www.ivytech.edu/about/snyder-bio.html).

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