Dec. 6, 2007
By Jack Jeffery
More than 30 Ohio University-Chillicothe faculty and staff members are participating this week in a seminar focused on implementing online learning concepts in the curriculum. Among the new technologies being investigated are podcasting, blogs (online journals), digital images, live data feeds (such as stock tickers), animation and Web pages that combine text, images and other media.
The Technology-Rich Learning Workshop, running seven hours each day in Stevenson Center, supports the work of the OU-C Online Task Force Committee that is developing plans to offer online and blended classes tailored to OU-C students and faculty. The initiative is one of the campus' strategic priorities for 2007-08.
"A significant aspect of this workshop is making faculty aware of the vast resources through the Internet and other avenues that are available for technology-rich teaching and learning," said Jan Schmittauer, chair of the committee. "Younger students grew up with this technology, and nontraditional students get excited by it.
"This type of approach adds both energy and synergy to classes," Schmittauer added. "It is part of our continuing effort to further build a community of learners on campus."
To gain an understanding of online learning from a student's perspective, all of the committee members took an online course this fall. Other committee members are Patty Griffith, Cindy Matyi, Jim McKean and Vicky Parker.
In keeping with OU-C's mission as well as the general concepts of the University System of Ohio, the campus is looking at ways to make higher education accessible to area residents.
The goal is to launch selected online courses in fall 2008. During winter and spring quarters, online curricula will be developed, measured against standards and refined in advance of the roll-out date.
"Students are more interested in online learning these days," workshop participant Robb Moats said. "It is part of their world. I look to incorporate many of the concepts in classes and encourage the students to become more active learners."
Online learning is becoming increasingly prevalent in higher education. In 2005, some 60,000 Ohio college and university students were enrolled in distance-learning classes taught by nearly 1,700 faculty members -- a 200 percent increase over the previous year, Griffith said. About 3 million students in the United States are taking online courses, she added.
Once complete, the campus online learning plan will be comprehensive -- including benchmarks and standards for quality assurance, content, manner of delivery, course structure, faculty instruction and support, and evaluation.
The measure is supported by one-time funds for outreach and regional campus initiatives.