This year DELTA turned “Sweet Sixteen!” That’s always been a kind of magical age, a time of coming of age. Not quite an adult, but more than a child. Growing up in the South as I did, it was always, “My, how he’s grown!” as my parents’ friends and cousins would describe me. Then, around age 16, it transitioned to, “What a fine young man!” Of course, those are just pleasantries universally applied to those age groups, but there is some semblance of physical, biological, and mental reality that goes along with them.
We do tend to “grow like weeds” up until that point, and have a limited awareness of the world beyond our relatively small spheres of influence. Sometime around 16, our unsustainable growth spurts start to taper off, our biological systems start prepping us for adulthood in powerful and mysterious ways, and it begins to dawn on us that we just may have some influence not only on our own destiny, but of others around us as well.
What does all this have to do with DELTA? A fair amount, I think. For most of the first 16 years, DELTA’s growth curve was exponential. Of course, exponential growth must always taper off at some point, and while we continue to see very strong growth in online enrollments, programs, and courses, it’s no longer exponential. That has led to a sort of “coming of age” of teaching and learning with technology at NC State that is reflected in the stories included in this year’s annual report.
They are stories of a still young, but maturing culture of distance education and learning technologies on our campus. The stories are less about growth in numbers and more about expanding horizons — through engagement with faculty fellows; building a robust new testing center; transforming courses through new technologies such as virtual and augmented reality; extending rich environments that we’ve built for credit courses and programs to NC State’s extensive portfolio of non-credit programming; and even rethinking the name “distance education” that made so much sense 16 years ago, but aptly describes a fraction of what we do today.
Yes, I think that “sweet sixteen” very appropriately applies to where DELTA is along our journey as an organization. We’re still growing and maturing, but the impact of the organization on the success of our students and extending the reach of NC State’s amazing programs is becoming evident across the institution and beginning to make an indelible impression on our university’s rich culture. I hope you’ll agree as you read the stories in this report.
Dr. Tom Miller
Vice Provost, DELTA