Expanding Distance Education Opportunities
About OSU Distance Education
State is preparing to expand its profile in distance education.
To ensure that distance learning is fully integrated with all
other academic planning, the university established the Office of Distance
Education and eLearning on December 1, with programs to be available in summer
2013. The university’s distance education and eLearning programming will be
known as Ohio State Online.
The new office will allow Ohio State to provide all forms of distance
education and eLearning, including degree offerings, credit courses, non-credit
certificates, iTunes U offerings, and hybrid as well as pure distance
programming. It will provide students with more options for interacting with course
content, participating in hybrid learning models, and using the tools that will
make them leaders in Ohio and around the world.
Michael B. Hofherr, formerly senior director of learning
technology, has been tapped to lead the office as associate vice president. He
will report to the executive vice president and provost.
With its focus on academic advancement through technology, the new
unit will also support the delivery of all forms of distance and eLearning. It
will be located in Mount Hall on West Campus in space that will allow for the
creation of an educational technology hub.
Hofherr says he is extremely excited about this opportunity to
work directly with the faculty and collaborate to enhance the teaching and
learning experience. “We have the greatest faculty body in the world. I see it
every day. Through Ohio State Online, my team and I look forward to providing
the opportunities, tools, and knowledge to help them deliver the world-class
education that defines Ohio State.”
The Office of Distance Education and eLearning integrates the university’s
current distance education initiatives, presently housed in the Office of
Extended Education, with the learning technology group, now a part of the
Office of the Chief Information Officer. This integrated approach will, for the
first time, provide colleges, departments, and individual faculty members with a centrally supported
infrastructure that will help them take full advantage of new technologies to
enhance student learning and expand the impact of Ohio State's unique programs.
Wayne Carlson, vice provost for undergraduate
studies and director of extended education, explains the importance of the
creation of this new office. “Last year, as part of extended education’s
reorganization, distance education was located with us while plans for its
permanent home took shape. Now, as a stand-alone initiative, the Office of Distance Education and eLearning can help make the Ohio
State learning experience still more responsive to the needs of both students
According to Provost Joseph Alutto, the time
has come for Ohio State to consolidate its distance education and eLearning
efforts into a one-stop shop. “Mobile devices, digital textbooks, online
environments, and other eLearning tools have permeated every corner of higher
education,” Alutto says. “Our faculty are eager to embrace these technologies
to enhance their teaching—and today’s tech-savvy students are ready to use them
in the learning environment. We have the know-how to respond to those needs and
to make bold strides in eLearning. That is why we have created the Office of
Distance Education and eLearning—and we have done so by leveraging existing
resources and providing additional central funding.”
This effort represents a $13.8 million
investment, which Alutto says will allow Ohio State to appreciably and
appropriately enhance student learning through digital technologies. Although
he will step down as provost in June 2013, Alutto will continue to serve Ohio
State as a special advisor to the president working on a number of initiatives,
including distance education.
of Distance Education and eLearning has a firm foundation from which to
launch broader efforts. The university last year entered into a collaboration
with Apple. The resulting Digital First initiative promotes technology enrichment, with the iPad serving as an enabling technology
for the end-user. In the College of Social Work, for example, Dean Tom Gregoire
has provided iPads to faculty and staff to enhance teaching and also to help
bring technology to the communities and agencies they serve. The instructional
arm of Digital First is Ohio State iTunes U, an online learning system that is free
to learners across the world. Instructors can place their lecture videos, audio
recordings, presentations, and other digital artifacts into the system for
public consumption. Dr. Matthew Stoltzfus of the Department of Chemistry is incorporating the
“flipped classroom model” delivered via iTunes U. In this “flipped” model,
students watch his lectures before
attending class in order to have more meaningful discussion and learning when
in the classroom.
But faculty have been advocating for more.
According to Scott DeWitt, associate professor of English and vice
chair of rhetoric, composition, and literacy, “These are exciting times to explore new ways of delivering
instruction and content to our students and to reconsider when, where, and how
we convene with our students. Digital and online course content gives us the
opportunity to reach new populations in exciting new ways. For me, the logical
next question is to ask, 'What are the emerging forms of knowledge and content
we want our students to produce in our courses?' With the launch of Ohio
State Online, OSU is perfectly poised to take on this work and answer these
Online courses will be developed by the colleges whose faculty are
providing them, and they will go through the same rigorous approvals process as
all other OSU courses. Thanks to the creation of the Office of Distance
Education and eLearning, faculty will have expert help in putting courses on
line. Says Associate Vice President Hofherr, “Over time, we will look for niches
in which our brand has particular value and where long distance efforts build
off our existing strengths. We will also seek innovative ways to use distance
education to enrich our existing programs.”
Associate Vice President - Michael B. Hofherr
Michael B. Hofherr
was named Ohio State’s associate vice president for distance education and
eLearning on December 1, 2012.
In that role, Hofherr will oversee
all forms of distance education and eLearning at Ohio State, including degree
offerings, credit courses, non-credit certificates, iTunes U offerings, and
hybrid as well as pure distance programming. He will also be responsible for
supporting the delivery of distance and eLearning efforts.
Prior to this new
appointment, Hofherr had served for nearly two years as the senior director for
learning technology in the Office of the Chief Information Officer, where he
helped transform the educational technologies offerings on campus. He
spearheaded the Digital First initiative, expanded
the Impact Grants program, and led a classroom
technology transformation that resulted in more than $2 million in savings
while improving services. As senior director for learning technology, Hofherr
also oversaw Carmen, the university’s learning
management platform, and the Digital Union.
Hofherr came to Ohio State in 2011 from Penn State, bringing an extensive
background in managing and leading all aspects of learning technology projects.
Earlier, he had served as a training consultant for Arthur Andersen.
Hofherr holds a BS in communications media from Indiana University
of Pennsylvania and an MS in instructional systems from Pennsylvania State
Frequently Asked Questions
In order to ensure that distance
learning is fully integrated with all other academic planning and to meet the
changing technology needs of faculty, students, and staff, the university has
established the Office of Distance Education and eLearning. The new office, called Ohio
State Online, combines the Learning Technology group and its services with
Extended and Distance Education teams. This centrally supported infrastructure
will help colleges, departments, and individual faculty members to fully
utilize new technologies, which will enhance student learning and expand the
impact of Ohio State's unique programs. Michael B. Hofherr, associate vice
president for Distance Education and eLearning, will lead the new organization.
He will report to the executive vice president and provost.
2. What does this mean for our
Ohio State Online will
enhance the student experience by providing our faculty with the resources they
need to provide the world-class 21st-century learning environment
that characterizes Ohio State. Students will have more options for interacting
with course content, will participate in more hybrid learning models, and have
greater exposure to the tools that will make them leaders in Ohio and around
What is the connection between our efforts in Ohio State Online and our
participation with Coursera, iTunesU, Digital First, Digital Union, and Office
of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO)?
Ohio State Online will continue a strong relationship with
OCIO through the use of the many core information technology related services they
The goals of Ohio State Online
student learning through the use of technology in partnership with faculty to
support classroom coursework and curriculum;
Ohio State to become a global leader in eLearning;
on the Digital First initiative to create a robust presence in open courseware;
distance education to extend Ohio State's outreach globally; and
financial sustainability through educational innovations.
To do this, Ohio State will
participate in all forms of eLearning, including hybrid, hyflex, distance and open
formats, as well as new opportunities that help us reach these goals.
What resources will be available for course delivery?
be expanding the instructor tool set to meet the needs of our faculty and to
assure they have the necessary educational technologies to ensure a world-class
student experience. Updates to Carmen (Desire2Learn) that will accommodate
distance and mobile educational resources, AdobeConnect, and Media Services will
be available spring 2013, and pilots for NBCLearn and Lecture Capture will be completed
in May for summer implementation. Central investment in standardized tool sets
will allow colleges to spend local dollars on specific needs.
What will the relationship between the colleges and Ohio State Online look
effort must be integrated with all academic planning of the university, yet be
sufficiently independent to act quickly and flexibly in a very dynamic
environment. Ohio State Online will rely on the colleges’ spirit of innovation
and entrepreneurship, with curriculum development completed at the college
level. Ohio State Online will provide the technical infrastructure, enrollment
process (for nontraditional students), marketing analysis, instructional
development, multi-state authorization, 24/7 helpline, and quality assurance. Course
development and instruction will be done by faculty within their academic
units. Faculty will also participate in the quality assurance review and will provide
insights into market analysis.
Have faculty been consulted? How will they participate in future governance?
cross-section of faculty leaders has been engaged from the beginning.
Presentations have been conducted with faculty leaders, University Senate
fiscal representatives, deans, department chairs and the Council on Academic
Affairs (CAA). In addition, informal sessions have been organized through the
faculty advisory committee of the Digital First initiative and open faculty
forums have occurred.
Faculty will play a key role on
Ohio State Online’s steering committee. Two faculty representatives from the
Council on Library and Information Technology (CoLIT), two faculty leaders, and
two faculty members selected by the provost will serve on the steering
committee. This steering committee will also include administrators and
Will there be training and support for faculty to develop courses? How will the
University Center for the Advancement of Teaching (UCAT) participate?
training will be offered. Training and support for faculty will be provided
through Ohio State Online by instructional designers and educational
technologists. These teams will work closely with UCAT to ensure faculty have
the resources they need to deliver an exceptional student experience.
Who will oversee quality and approval of Ohio State Online courses?
for courses and programs will follow all Office of Academic Affairs (OAA) and
Council on Academic Affairs (CAA) processes. Existing protocols, like Quality
Matters, will ensure Ohio State University’s expectations of rigor and quality
Will we focus on complete programs, or individual courses that are part of a
residential student option?
State will participate in all forms of eLearning. These include enhancing new
and existing undergraduate and graduate courses; moving existing degree
programs online (often niche programs); and creating new degree programs based
on combinations of courses, new degree and certificate programs to fit employer
needs, and interchangeable learning modules.
Will this be run as a separate college such as, for example, the Penn State
knowledge and faculty reside within the colleges. The effort will be integrated
into the normal college structure engaging faculty by using existing approval
process and procedures.
What are the sources for funding distance education and will it become
State Online will leverage the existing capabilities and resources of the
OCIO's eLearning units and the Office of Undergraduate Education's Extended
Education Office. Additional resources will be allocated centrally by OAA to
support the development of a university-wide technology platform, faculty
grants and support services, and additional learning technology
newly integrated Distance Education and eLearning unit will be expected to
partner with academic units to move our distance education offerings towards
financial sustainability. We will work with the University Senate Fiscal
Committee, OAA, and the Office of Business and Finance to fully develop the
long-term funding model.
Is this effort impacting the revenue stream of on-campus course offerings?
Working with colleges and academic units, we will develop distance education
offerings and eLearning courses to supplement what we currently offer in
traditional formats. Ohio State Online will allow us to attract new student
populations, adding to our existing enrollment base.
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