Dartmouth University Forms Committee to Examine Increasing Online Offerings

Compiled by Jamar Ramos
January 22, 2013

Online education is beginning to change the way learning happens at postsecondary institutions around the country, claims Coursera co-founder Daphne Koller. With the ability for students to learn on their own schedule, interest in online courses and programs has continued to grow. However, while students clamor for distance learning, educators and administrators are wary of new methods of education. Many schools are limiting the programs they have, or have chosen not to offer online education at all. Other schools are having in-depth discussions about online education and how it can benefit their school.

Dartmouth University is one of those schools. A committee has been formed in order for the school to study opportunities to expand online learning. Currently, the university is more interested in direct interaction between students and educators, which would facilitate better learning environments. However, Dartmouth is making strides. It already offers a blended program; its Master of Health Care Delivery Science program has a six week residency requirement, but the rest of the eighteen-month program can be completed online.

The university is drawn to some benefits of online learning, including the fact that online classes could help students graduate earlier and help high school students finish general education courses and choose their major before entering college. It can also help educators learn how to integrate online technology into their campus offerings.

Conversations about the blended use of technology and classroom interaction may help end the argument about online education taking over for brick-and-mortar colleges and universities. Dartmouth educators are examining growing technologies that for-profit schools and massive open online courses (MOOCs) use, and hoping to integrate that technology to enhance the classroom experience. Educators can post videos of basic materials online, and spend class time engaged in student interaction. The technology allows teachers to post information and the course syllabus, or have discussion forums available to students.

Dartmouth wants to be careful how it implements changes to its education offerings. The school has small classes where students and teachers interact closely. Finding a happy medium where technology can help enhance, and complement, that interaction may help the school in the long run.


Sources:

“Online courses create new learning methods,” thedartmouth.com, January 18, 2013, Stephanie Mc Feeters