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  • New Course Designs on the Cards for Higher Education Institutions in Maryland
  • Posted By:
  • Karen W.
  • Posted On:
  • 08-Nov-2013
  • The Senate was informed by Maryland’s Chancellor that the state would be pioneering brand new course designs for higher education very soon. This is welcome news as institutions can become more effective even as they work towards reducing costs by blending learning classes and using massive online courses according to William E. Brit Kirwan, the University System of Maryland chancellor. This testimony was given by him to the Senate Committee recently.

    MOOC or Massive Open Online Courses are offered for thousands of people. These online courses are highly interactive and provide access to a massive number of students. These courses also help reduce costs by eliminating cost of text books completely according to former University of Maryland, College Park President Kirwan.

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has sanctioned $1.4 million grant for Maryland to experiment with MOOC. Results of course tests conducted in various state university system classrooms will be released next summer.

    In an interview after the statement, Kirwan specified that this is not simply a lecture online. Sophisticated technology has been used in conjunction with cognitive sciences to create the course. People are given the opportunity to understand the material with clarity as it adapts to their styles of learning. 

    Open Learning Initiative is a cognitive science research and program being integrated with the Massive Open Online Courses offered by the University says Kirwan in his testimony. Carnegie Mellon University takes credit for converting this program into software.

    Just like in the traditional courses, similar final exam results were produced in public colleges outside Maryland such as Towson University and University of Maryland, Baltimore County by adopting the Open Learning Initiative on an independent basis. Kirwan said that at least 25% less time was spent by students on this experimental course.

    According to him, this has ensured there is lot more time for professors to focus on other courses and has made the courses themselves very effective. The university system of this state has also piloted less formal lectures and computer tutorials in the interactive hybrid classes.

    As compared to the traditional classes, fewer failing grades and more passing grades have been received by students of the redesigned class at the Eastern Shore located University of Maryland.
    Kirwan says that in his 50 years of experience in higher education field, the most exciting opportunity has been created by these experimental methods.

    He said in a written statement to the Education, Health, Labor and Pensions Senate Committee that there is nothing magical about technology and that they would be making an enormous mistake by completely eliminating traditional classrooms.

    A question was put forth by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass on whether thorough investigations were conducted on the new methods. She asked Kirwan if it was enough to conduct only a single experiment before approving the redesigned course for which he replied in the affirmative. From across the country, a total of five higher education officials including Kirwan testified at this encouraging and positive hearing.


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