Letter from the Vice Provost
Years from now when we're sitting around having a beer and reflecting back on online learning in 2012-13, we'll undoubtedly say, "Remember all the hype about MOOCs?" The question is, will we be making analogies to Beanie Babies and Pet Rocks, or will we talk about how they profoundly changed online education? Will the early MOOCs from Stanford be compared to NCSA Mosaic, which changed the face of the Internet forever? Or will they be remembered as a brief chapter in the history of open access to education?
The numbers are staggering—Coursera has enrolled more than 5.4 million students in its brief history, growing faster than Facebook at a similar point in time. To put this in perspective, the National Center for Education Statistics pegs the total enrollment of U.S. degree-granting institutions at 21 million. Well over $100 million has been invested in MOOC efforts, much of it from the same top-tier Silicon Valley venture capitalists that fueled startups like Google and Amazon. You can't ignore that.
While it will be some time before the post-MOOC future of higher education becomes clear, we're taking steps to learn some things that will help us prepare for that day. This spring, DELTA participated in an "OOC experiment" with Engineering Online and the Electrical and Computer Engineering department. Dr. Paul Franzon volunteered his time to offer his graduate course in ASIC Design as an "open online course" (OOC). The goal was to better understand the technical and operational requirements to support a MOOC, as well as the cost in terms of faculty and staff time. Enrollment was capped at 1,000 students to avoid any impact on NC State's technology infrastructure. Students took the course for free, and could opt in to pay for an authenticated assessment that would earn them a certificate of completion. Approximately 700 students enrolled in the course, and less than 20 opted to pay for a certificate of completion. After all the costs were considered, the "break even" point was around 15 to 20,000 enrollments. You can read more about the OOC experiment in this report, but one thing is clear: sustainable financial models for these types of offerings have a long way to go.
While the jury is still out on "MOOC Mania," the value of digital learning technologies is clear in achieving NC State's #1 goal of enhancing the success of our students through educational innovation. We're seeing impressive gains in student learning outcomes through course redesign. More students are leveraging the flexibility of online courses to accelerate progress to degree. DELTA designers and faculty are collaborating to create powerful learning tools based on game technologies. We're streamlining and seamlessly integrating enterprise learning technologies to improve the user experience for both students and faculty. You will find these stories and more in this year's annual report. Please take time to read the stories, review the data, and learn more about the many ways that DELTA is supporting our faculty as we all work toward the common goal of enhanced student success.
Dr. Tom Miller
Vice Provost, DELTA