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22st Annual OLC International Conference
November 16-18, 2016 | Orlando, Florida | Walt Disney World Swan/Dolphin Resort

OLC Innovate 2016 - Innovations in Blended and Online Learning
April 20-22, 2016 | New Orleans, LA | Sheraton New Orleans Hotel

Enriching Courses: Academic Freedom in Institutionally Managed Courses

Zoaib Mirza (Devry Education Group, USA)
Matthew Crowley (DeVry Education Group, USA)
Daniel Clary (Integrated Education Solutions, USA)
Session Information
October 14, 2015 - 12:45pm
Faculty and Professional Development & Support
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Practical Application
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Blended Program/Degree
Institutional Level: 
Multiple Levels
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Information Session
Northern Hemisphere E4
Session Duration: 
45 Minutes
Concurrent Session 2

Learn how DeVry Group is enabling professor freedom within a master course model.

Extended Abstract

Like many large online institutions, many DeVry Education Group courses are developed using the master course model. Courses are developed by a handful of collaborators, creating the framework of the course including assignments, rubrics, readings, labs, and assessments. These master courses are then duplicated into many sections for individual professors to teach, interact, grade, and support their students. This model has many benefits, including ensuring courses are closely aligned with program learning objectives, enabling the maintenance of content (updates and repairs) to be efficient and effective, and enabling online programs to quickly launch and scale.
However, with this model, we frequently lose the voice of the professor and the academic freedom to provide to students what they need and adapt resources during a course. We have launched many initiatives to help professors maintain their voice as educators as well as foster discussion around courses. Past and current projects have included ways for professors to discuss the course with each other, share resources and content amongst each other, and seamlessly report errors and suggestions from within the course itself. These solutions, while successful and useful, are incomplete since professors frequently continue to point students to their own websites, videos, and external resources outside of the official course content.
Therefore we have launched 'Project Enrich' to build a framework that both maintains the benefits of the master course model while providing professors the opportunity to directly supplement and contribute to their individual section's content. Professors are provided the ability to add "gems" of content - links, documents, and answers - that are embedded into the specific sections of the master course they are teaching. Other faculty can review the gems that their peers have contributed and opt to share those resources to their students as well.
The gems are implemented using a custom-front end to embed the gems within course content and APIs with our Pearson LearningStudio LMS and EQUELLA Content Repository. The gems themselves are hosted and managed using EQUELLA, providing administrators an easy way to review, organize, and maintain the collective gems.
This presentation will discuss this history, how we brought the gems into practice, initial outcomes and lessons learned, and our future roadmap for this initiative.