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USG Begins Next-Generation MOOC Initiative

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Atlanta — September 17, 2013

As technology continues to reshape the higher education landscape, the University System of Georgia has been very active as an early adopter. Just this year the System of 31 public colleges and universities has entered into partnerships with two companies to explore the potential to better serve students through massive open online courses (MOOCs).

The latest partnership to be announced is with Desire2Learn (D2L) Incorporated, a company that provides Cloud-based learning solutions and provides an open and extensible platform to more than 750 clients and more than 10 million learners in higher education, K-12, healthcare, government and the corporate sector.

Through this new partnership, USG students can enroll in MOOCs to enhance their knowledge in defined subject areas and earn credits that will count towards a degree awarded from USG institutions.

“As we focus on how to better serve our students, clearly the use of technology and online learning will play a more and more important role,” said USG Chancellor Hank Huckaby. “We have to think creatively how we can meet the needs of students through greater access and in affordability.”

The USG currently hosts more than 60,000 courses in the D2L learning system with students and faculty accessing the system that receives more than 50 million hits per day. The D2L partnership also enables the USG to develop an online learning strategy that is customized to fit the needs of USG students and the USG’s academic environment. It’s integrated for fully-online, blended or in-class settings that can be accessed by faculty and students on computers or mobile devices.

Kennesaw State University recently announced its first MOOC. “Our MOOCs are strategically designed to increase access, shorten degree completion time, and reduce costs while reinforcing the relationship between higher education and the citizenry,” said Elke Leeds, assistance vice president of Technology Enhanced Learning at Kennesaw State. “The D2L platform has been highly leveraged at Kennesaw State University with online program options growing from seven to more than 30 certificate, bachelors, masters and doctoral programs. The partnership with D2L and the MOOC initiative will continue to enhance those options.”

This technology-enabled learning environment aligns with the new USG Strategic Plan, which has as its focus how the system can better serve students. Under the Plan’s three “strategic imperatives” are targeted efforts to develop new, flexible and affordable degree options along with efforts to pursue goals of currency, relevance and innovation. See the full USG Strategic Plan at: http://www.usg.edu/strategicplan

Houston Davis, the USG’s chief academic officer said, “A key measure of success for an online learning initiative is its demonstrated ability to help increase student learning and graduation rates. When you look at education from a student’s perspective, partnerships with organizations such as Desire2Learn provide the University System with more options to help our students succeed academically.”

The Desire2Learn partnership also enables the USG to develop an online learning strategy that is customized to fit the needs of USG students and the USG’s academic environment. This partnership is a component of a larger USG strategy focused on student success.

Earlier this year, the USG announced a partnership with another national organization that is developing MOOCs – Coursera. As part of this partnership, the USG joined nine other state university systems and public universities to explore the potential of MOOCs in meeting ambitious college completion goals and providing new pathways to degrees for students. See: http://www.usg.edu/news/release/usg_part_of_national_partnership_to_explore_mooc_based_learning_and_collabo

And in May, a USG institution, the Georgia Institute of Technology, announced an agreement with Udacity Inc., another MOOC provider, and AT&T, to offer the first professional Online Master of Science degree in computer science (OMS CS). See: http://www.gatech.edu/newsroom/release.html?nid=212951

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