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Ohio State spends $14M to expand online education options

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Ohio State has taken its latest step in offering online education options to students and staff to the tune of almost $14 million.
The university has combined distance education and learning technology initiatives into the Office of Distance Education and eLearning, which will be known as Ohio State Online.
The changes will cost $13.8 million and will be funded by existing eLearning and Extended Education resources, with additional resources appropriated by the Office of Academic Affairs. Ohio State Online will work with the University Senate Fiscal Committee, OAA and the Office of Business and Finance to create a long-term fiscal plan, according to OAA.
The office was established on Dec. 1.
Wayne Carlson, vice provost for undergraduate studies and dean of undergraduate education, said Ohio State Online will mean more web aspects in university classes.
Carlson said that while professors have been implementing technology on their own, Ohio State Online will help ensure better practices.
“A lot of times we found a server under a faculty member’s desk to provide access to those resources. What we’re trying to do is be a lot more deliberate about it,” Carlson said.
Ohio State Online is the latest in a series of university efforts to use new technologies. Last year, OSU collaborated with Apple to create the Digital First initiative, which aimed to advance technology-aided education with help from the iPad.
“In order to prepare our students for a fully wired digital world, we must integrate leading-edge technologies throughout our college campus – from the classroom to the operating room,” said President E. Gordon Gee in a university statement following Digital First’s launch. “It is our obligation to remain relevant.”
The university’s collaboration has also spawned involvement in iTunes U, Apple’s destination for university-endorsed online classes. OSU offers 13 public iTunes U classes across subjects like chemistry, film, communication, medicine and others, said Ohio State Online’s newly appointed associate vice president, Michael Hofherr.
Hofherr said OSU’s technology initiatives are good for the university and have been successful.
“It’s been going really well, and we think our students are really starting to see the value of that and they like having the ability to do the flip classroom model with classes online,” he said.
Students and faculty will also see an update to the Carmen web portal.
“It’s a major update to Carmen we’ve been working on the last few months. The new Carmen will be available in May. We’ll test it out in the summer semester and when we come back in the fall it will be for use in all classes.” Hofherr said.
The new Carmen will have improved capabilities for discussions, chats, social networking and other web 2.0 utilities, Hofherr said.
Some students said they are looking forward to using the improved site.
“I’m excited to see what they try and do with it (Carmen),” said Derek Kneeskern, a third-year in construction systems management, who also said he prefers using technology over pen and paper because it’s more convenient.
Hofherr said he hopes that students find the improved capabilities more convenient as well.
“It really is a focus on mobility and flexibility, so as students you have a better mobile experience with Carmen on your phone or on your tablet or on your computer,” Hofherr said.

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