Today, traditional colleges and universities face reduced
funding, changing student demographics, questions regarding quality and value, and
increased competition. Their success requires transformative change to enable new
teaching and learning approaches.
Technology is changing the landscape of higher education.
Educators are using everything from technology in the classroom, to massive open
online courses (MOOCS), to flipped
classrooms to find new ways to enhance access and the student experience.
As higher education rapidly evolves, Georgia Tech is at the
cutting edge of the movement. Below, Georgia Tech weighs in about this evolving
Massive online education has changed the academic landscape
Online education is not new. Let’s not mix online education with the so-called
MOOCs, which have received much of the attention in this field in the past two
Georgia Tech has offered online education for more than 30 years through our
professional education programs. However, massive online education has changed the
Although critics point to low completion rates for those who enroll in MOOCs, I
would argue that they are successful. They have changed the conversation. They are
providing content, and that content is valuable.
So far, more than 900,000 people have enrolled in Georgia Tech's massive online
classes. If 1 percent finishes, that’s more than 9,000 students — a number that is
more than half of our undergraduate degree program.
So far, more than 900,000 people have enrolled in
Georgia Tech's massive online classes.
And they learn for free. To me, if people sample educational material, it is good
It means that format and use of technology to disseminate content is incredibly
In 10 years, will higher education institutions be much different than they are
today? Yes – we will all change. In fact, we are changing as we speak. At Georgia
Tech, we are changing the way we deliver residential education influenced by what we
have learned from massive online education.
But will we all look the same? I hope not. There should be a variety of styles and
offerings. There will be a flavor for different people. That has value, and we
shouldn’t ever lose that.
—Rafael L. Bras, Provost, Georgia Institute of
A fundamental change in higher education
We shouldn’t assume that students are going to wait for us to catch up to them. We
need to reach out and meet them where they are now. And right now, they’re online.
That means offering more online content.
Technology is already allowing us to have an enormous impact on longstanding
residential student problems. For example, because of large lecture halls, it can be
difficult to know what freshmen have learned by the time they become sophomores.
Technology can now be inserted into those classes to measure what they know and how
they are responding to the subject matter, the instructor, or the methods of
teaching. Dozens of our peers are doing the same thing.
Students in our classrooms can be compared against those in traditional settings
around the world. Once we learn what’s working, we can immediately adapt what is
happening in the regular classroom.
Once we learn what’s working, we can immediately
adapt what is happening in the regular classroom.
Just as importantly, the motivation to test and implement new pedagogical methods
is coming from faculty members. They want to improve their teaching.
The technology revolution is accelerating the way Georgia Tech works with students.
We now have the tools that allow people to do what they’ve always wanted to do.
—Rich DeMillo, Director of the Center for 21st Century Universities,
Georgia Institute of Technology
Experiments to help students and improve learning
We know that online learning, when developed properly, can result in learning that
fully matches the in-person classroom experience.
That critical insight led to the creation of Georgia Tech's online Master of Science degree in Computer
Science (OMS CS), which launched in January 2014. It is the result of a
pioneering collaboration between Georgia Tech; Udacity, a for-profit educational
organization; and AT&T, which contributed $2 million.
The program’s classes are delivered using MOOC technology, but with a key
difference: This is not a collection of online courses “based on” the Institute’s
courses. These are Georgia Tech courses that lead to a Tech degree. It is the same
Georgia Tech master’s in computer science that is already widely respected.
And the tuition — $6,600 — is less than the $46,000 out-of-state tuition for an
The OMS CS' low tuition costs and its flexible design have made it accessible to
students who would not have been able to earn an on-campus degree. Some 1,268
students enrolled this fall, meaning OMS CS is already more than quadruple the size
of our on-campus program. We project to enroll 2,400 students next summer.
It is the same Georgia Tech master’s in computer
science that is already widely respected.
Programs like ours will only grow as we learn how affordable online education can
best complement on-campus learning and what works best for students at different
stages in their lives.
These experiments will reveal the path to higher education’s next model.
—Zvi Galil, John P. Imlay Dean, College of Computing, Georgia
Institute of Technology
Technology benefits lifelong learning
As employer and employee needs evolve, working adults need opportunities to expand
and enhance their skills throughout their careers.
At Georgia Tech Professional Education,
our students are predominantly working professionals who are mid-career and on the
move. Their needs vary greatly from the needs of traditional undergraduate and
full-time graduate students.
Our instructional design team has found that working professionals require three
elements from an online education experience:
The ability to cooperate and participate in group work in an online environment
just like a face-to-face course.
A network of fellow students they can trust to ask for help and feedback.
Instant digital recognition when completing requirements of a course, including
authentic and verifiable credentials showing accomplishments.
Working adults need opportunities to expand and
enhance their skills throughout their careers.
In response, our team developed a number of online learning initiatives.
These include: group work sharing and Wiki-based assignments that enable students
to submit work as a group and be graded as a group; access to peers and faculty
through participant bios and forums; digital certificates for specific courses that
can be printed, as well as displayed on LinkedIn profiles; and an electronic
checklist of required items that can be manually or automatically checked off as
These valuable insights allow us to design online offerings that make lifelong
learning more accessible than ever before.
—Nelson C. Baker, Dean of Professional Education, Georgia Institute
Taking advantage of online learning’s flexibility
I can set the pace myself. For instance, I have the ability to play back to the
part I’m struggling with during a lecture.
The beauty of online education is students can discover their own obstacles and
remove them at their own pace.
I’m thinking maybe I’ll do one online class after another forever.
The beauty of online education is students can
discover their own obstacles and remove them at their own pace.
The classes are well organized, and the professors are very engaging.
So, I’ve been recommending it. As a matter of fact, several of my friends are
applying right now.
—Jennie Li, Student, Online Master of Science in Computer Science
The state of the online university
MOOCs and online colleges have yet to live up to their promise. But the situation
is evolving as established colleges, universities, and private investors have joined
in. What lies ahead for online education? This roundtable discussion between higher
education leaders was moderated by David Leonhardt, managing editor, The Upshot,
The New York Times.
Technology and the future of higher education roundtable
On Oct. 23 in New York City, Georgia Tech hosted a media roundtable with leaders of
various platform providers, universities, foundations and reporters to discuss
technology's role in the future of online higher education. This video series
discusses the current status of MOOCS, affordability, accessibility and lifelong
Contributors: Jason Maderer, Brigitte Espinet Page Design: Erica Endicott