The Board of Visitors Committee of Academic Affairs discussed the use of eLearning and other technology in College of William and Mary classrooms. Provost Michael Halleran spoke about how professors at the College use Blackboard, blogs and wiki pages to connect with students outside of the classroom.
“The College wants to have a more integrated approach to technology and to make it simple for faculty to understand a lot about technology in next year so they can use it in their classrooms,” Halleran said.
The Board is making a program to encompass all aspects of technology into classrooms at the College. Director of Academic Information Services Jean Roche spoke to the board about a program that will broaden learning at the College through technology by offering free online courses to the public.
“ED-X is a $60 million collaboration with MIT and Harvard, which offers thousands of courses online for free for people to engage in distance learning and to make the resources of Harvard and MIT [available] to the rest of the world. In less than a year, 20 top universities admitted to online distance learning,” Roche said.
However, the classes offered would not count for credit; instead, participants would receive a certificate for completing the program. The Board of Visitors discussed whether or not the College should pursue such an idea. Rector of the College Jeffrey B. Trammel ’73 realized the need for the initiative.
“We don’t have the desire to be the first to do this, but this is the future of education and it will be here in ways we don’t see,” Trammel said. “How does this work in the engaged learning model that we prize here? It needs to also work for the student-professor relationships that this school prizes.”
However, other board members were concerned about how they could handle such a venture. Board member Thomas Frantz ’70 remained skeptical of the idea.
“This sounds like a big undertaking, so can’t we gather many different institutions to work on this?” Frantz said.
Board members did not reach a clear conclusion as to whether the College will pursue offering free online courses to the public. However, the Board is taking the idea into consideration for the future of technology-based education.