A funny thing happened to me on my way to hear Sebastian Thrun speak in October. Thrun, you’ll remember is the (former) Stanford Artificial Intelligence professor, whose free online course went viral last year, starting the frenzy over Massive Open Online Courses, known by the acronym MOOCs. These are super-large enrollment non-credit courses offered for free. Thrun’s AI course attracted around 160,000 enrollments. What is seldom added to that fact is that around 133,000 dropped out of the course. Nonetheless, 28,000 students are more than Thrun would ever reach with his in-person lectures during his lifetime.
As in most biennia, the Oregon Governor releases a two-year recommended budget around December 1, then participates in a legislative process that establishes a two-year budget beginning the following July 1. For the 2013-15 biennium, a new process partitioned the State’s general fund into seven funding areas. The OSU Extension Service was considered within the education funding area, along with the rest of higher education, the K-12 system and community colleges. The other two OSU Statewide Public Services—the Forest Research Lab and the Agricultural Experiment Station, were included within the jobs and economy funding area.
With leadership from the Extension Program Council, a process was developed to identify and prioritize issues around which we might seek funding to allow Extension’s growth. While it isn’t yet clear if new funding may come from the state, we are preparing to advance three initiatives. These investment opportunities have been reviewed by the campus-wide Outreach and Engagement Council, the Extension Citizens Advisory Network and Extension’s regional administrators and county leaders.
I’m interested in your reactions. What resonates with you? What questions does this evoke?
I’ll respond to any questions or comments both here and at the conference on Oct. 30.
Imagine what a truly 21st Century public university will become.
Each summer the Provost requests that all colleges and divisions submit academic reports that highlight the most noteworthy achievements from the past year. I find that the process of compiling this report offers an excellent opportunity to reflect back on all that we have accomplished together.
A few highlights from our division’s 2011-12 report:
- Ecampus introduced four new online credit programs and was ranked eighth in the nation by SuperScholar.org for the quality and strength of its distance education program.
- 352 distance students received their diplomas through Ecampus, including students located in 35 states and six countries.
- Professional and Noncredit Education added four programs, with the expectation of launching upwards of 20 more in 2012-13.
- OSU Extension’s Ask an Expert program is now among the top four most active of its kind in the country. Since its launch in March 2011, our Ask an Expert program has resolved over 4,000 questions.
When Justin Morrill helped craft the ground-breaking legislation that created the land-grant university system in 1860, he hoped that it would change the face of society. During the next 150 years, Morrill’s vision became the land-grant universities’ competitive advantage in the marketplace of knowledge: university-based knowledge could be extended to people beyond the university to help solve problems and improve lives. To stay competitive, the land grant universities addressed questions such as: Do we provide access to information that makes a difference? And are we maintaining our role as a respected source of relevant, objective, science-based information?
No doubt you’ve seen several stories lately in the news about what some people are calling MOOCs–Massive Online Open Classes–with 160,000 or so students in online open courseware classes being offered by Universities such as Stanford, Harvard, MIT, through some commercial spin-off companies. (See below.). The purpose and the business model of the massive courses continue to be unclear. However, the increased profile of these classes and the new enterprises involved in their development raises questions about what it means to Oregon State?
I’ve been asked several times recently to make observations about people who have accomplished much in their lives or careers and who are moving on to other challenges. Promise interns, Extension cooperators, university graduates, faculty promoted and/or tenured, recipients of the Eagle rank in the Boy Scouts of America, to name some. In thinking about the traits of those who share in such honors, I’m struck by a few items.
In December 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau announced the results of Census 2010 – the resident population of the United State is now 308,745,538. As additional data from the Census 2010 are released, six disruptive demographic trends of the new millennium are expected to be confirmed. A report released by University of North Carolina Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise presents these trends and the challenges they pose for the nation’s future. I suggest that these six disruptive demographic trends will also impact who Extension’s future audience will be and how we will deliver relevant and meaningful programs.
In the state of Oregon there are 750,000 people with some college experience (including community college) but no bachelor’s degree. According to the Lumina Foundation, in 2008, nearly 570,000 Oregon residents fit into this category of some college, no degree — representing more than 27 percent of the state’s adult population. (Adding the 186,000 associate’s degree holders gets us to 750,000 with some college and no bachelor’s degree.) (http://www.luminafoundation.org/state_work/oregon/)