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Board of Regents Hear Progress Report on Technology Initiative

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Atlanta — November 11, 1998

The University System of Georgia’s distance education strategy is moving from an entrepreneurial stage – wherein individual campuses have competed and gained status as leaders in the Information Age – to a Systemwide implementation phase. This next phase will be marked by identification of best practices and standardization among campuses, the Board Of Regents were told today (Nov. 11).

The board heard the update on the University System’s instructional technology and distance education goals while convening for their monthly meeting, held this month on the campus of Dalton College. The report continues the “learning phase” of the regents 10-month study of technology’s role within the University System, expected to culminate in the Spring of 1999 with policy recommendations.

Dr. James Muyskens, senior vice chancellor of academic affairs for the board of regents, said that a key concern presently faced by the Board of Regents is defining the policies and procedures which facilitate course and program offerings using distance learning delivery methods, while insuring quality and fiscal responsbility. “We are pleased with the innovativeness and progress of our institions in extending the reach of their programs around the state, nationally and even internationally,” Muyskens stated. “Now it is equally important for us to focus on coordination and review, to ensure that we appropriately channel our resources toward unique and complimentary offerings, avoiding duplication.”

Several University System initiatives are currently underway to achieve a system of coordinated, technology-focused activities within the network of 34 public colleges and universities:

  • Georgia Learning Alliance: A new initiative by the University System, announced for the first time at the board meeting, the Georgia Learning Alliance is aimed at providing a “virtual university” site for on-line courses and academic programs. Aimed at eliminating the barriers of time and location, the Alliance will: facilitate access to an expanded learning environment, encourage and facilitate workforce development efforts, provide electronic dissemination of the System’s distance education offerings and increase access to educational programs which address crtical areas of need for the state. Located on the World Wide Web at http://www.usg.edu/alliance, this website currently provides links to the System’s institutional distance education sites; however, in the near future it will provide access to keyword searchable databases of distance education courses throughout the University System.

  • Georgia CAID: Another new initiative announced at the board meeting, GeorgiaCAID is a public/private partnership administered by the University System of Georgia designed to expand the educational technology infrastructure in the state, to enhance instructional delivery at a distance. The GeorgiaCAID network will bring together ideas from academia and products from corporate technology partners to facilitate more creative delivery of educational content to Georgia’s students. Planned enhancements include bringing the University System’s faculty and students the expanded capabilities of the next generation of the Internet, referred to as Internet 2. The public/private partnership approach is expected to foster entrepreneurial approaches to developing new educational stratgies, while mitigating the tremendous cost factors associated with technology experimentation and solutions development.

  • Enrollment/Tuition Model Guidelines: To address the cost implications of on-line course and program offerings, University System officials have devised acceptable transaction models that campuses may consider for their distance learning offerings. For the next two years, campuses may choose any or several of these models to address student needs. The guidelines are aimed at addressing costs students should be assessed when they matriculate in on-line offerings offered by their home institution, in collaboratively offered courses, in contracted programs, and other arrangements adopted by System colleges and universities. The guidelines also address the need for market-based pricing for customized courses offered to corporations, non-profit organizations and other entities.

  • Quality Assurance: To addresss the quality concerns of on-line curriculum and instruction, student services, faculty support, learning support services and other issues associated with the demands of a “virtual university,” University System officials are in the process of shaping a document that will identify principles of good practice for addressing these issues “at a distance.” The document has been drafted and is beginning the review process, and will be presented to the regents for final action.

“At the end of this academic year, we fully expect to adopt strong, consistent principles and policies that will enhance the University System’s presence in ‘educational cyberspace’,” Muyskens stated. “We recognize that this is a vast frontier for educational enterprise – and we fully expect to be respected competitiors in this arena. Our goal this year is to ensure that our presence will be marked by the same high-quality standards and academic programs for which the University System is consistently recognized.”

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