A Distance Education Update with Goodlett Mcdaniel March 23, 2010Posted by michaelgalvin in : Uncategorized , trackback
I had the opportunity to speak with our new Associate Provost for Distance Education, Goodlett McDaniel in late March of 2010. Knowing University Life’s interest in the distance effort at Mason and in helping him meet his SACS and CAS goals for delivering student services to distance learners, Goodlett was good enough to offer a brief update, one of a series of updates that you will find periodically posted to this blog. You will see in the associated video on this page that Goodlett refers to a peculiarly serendipitous alignment of factors that is catalyzing a significant growth in DE course production and attendance at Mason. The College of Science has an entire cluster of courses recently approved for development: astronomy, physics, two biology courses, and two math courses. Also new on the scene is an anatomy and physiology course being produced by Cyndi Beck from California. Cyndi is working with Ric Reo at Prince William to create an interesting distance production with distance delivery. In another cluster, Social Work, traditionally a very ground based discipline, has had such success with their 200 level courses they created that they are producing their masters courses for on line delivery.
George Mason University seems to be doubling the number of enrollments for distance courses each year, which is what recently has caught the eyes of SACS, having rightly perceived that our growth (substantive change in some programs) is significant enough to warrant recommending that Mason now build out the resource infrastructure that will support the growth of distance programs while guaranteeing all practical equanimity to students in Fairfax, Montana and beyond. Nationally, distance education is growing at 17 to 20 percent annually. Goodlett notes that if Mason growth, as predicted, matches the national pace, we will be at capacity given the resources we have now and at the ready line, and will be positioned for a new build out of resource infrastructure: more instructional designers, distance education delivery technologies, faculty trained and prepared practically and pedagogically, and a new level of communicating with and serving students at-any-distance.
In the mean time, in anticipation of the SACS presence at Mason over the coming summer, Goodlett spends the early part of his days discovering and developing the policies and procedures that need to be standardized to drive this growth process and designing the ways in which they support a quality product and meet accreditation standards. He notes that we can figure out how to measure the variety of outcomes assigned to distance courses and compare them to ground based courses, but while Mason is rolling with a rapidly growing portfolio of pilot distance courses and programs, we have allow ourselves to get our “foot caught in the bicycle wheel”, so we don’t miss opportunities for evaluation and assessment .
The roles that University Life will play in the coming months and years in Mason’s distance efforts are emerging and taking shape as conversations focus on the most recent language in the SACS and CAS guidelines. We are sure to play critical parts as we insure that our services to distance students continue to evolve as Mason meets this new and important challenge and we reach out to touch the students we serve through ever vaster reaches of time and space. We’re going global, and we like that!