Exploring a new frontier
The train doors close and Alex settles into her seat for the ride. She has an hour commute to her job downtown. She slides in her earbuds and tunes into the latest podcast from her professor. She can now wrap up this lecture and then prepare for her group meeting tonight. She plans to meet in a virtual reality café with fellow students who currently live in Hong Kong and London.
A woman across the aisle sees her working and asks her if she is on her way to class.
Alex responds, “I’m currently taking a podcast course, working toward a master’s in accounting. It’s an amazing program. I get to customize the entire course. I can choose from podcasts, one-on-one video, or virtual meetings. The entire program adjusts to my learning needs and speed. This new approach to online courses is making it so much easier to access my classes as I earn my graduate degree.”
This interaction and description of a college course may sound far-fetched, but it isn’t that far away. At least if Brian Miller, dean of the Global Campus for Davenport, has anything to say about it.
“When it comes to an online experience, students have expectations regarding technology. It’s my job to make sure our Global Campus meets them with learning experiences that are rich, flexible, and engaging,” Miller says.
The Global Campus team is continually looking for ways to advance Davenport and its online offerings. Davenport University has long been a leader in online learning, having offered online college degrees for more than 20 years.
“We can create better experiences, help more students achieve their education goals, and address barriers for students who haven’t had access to higher education before.” – Brian Miller, dean of the Global Campus for Davenport
A recent article by Guide2Research reported that in an Online College Students 2019 survey, 63% of respondents said they enrolled in an online program because it was the best fit for their work and life responsibilities. While 34% stated it was their preferred method of learning, and only 3% said it was because they could only find their program online.
Davenport is improving the online experience for students by addressing how they access their courses.
“It can’t be assumed that a student owns a laptop or has a broadband connection. If the only way a student can participate in a discussion is on their phone, that’s OK. If noise is an issue, online chat is acceptable. And suppose a student cannot view or hear a video assignment for any reason. In that case, Davenport will embed captions and provide a printed transcript,” he adds.
What is at the forefront for Davenport’s Global Campus? Miller describes the road ahead for the university.
“It’s about personalization and access,” said Miller. “We can create better experiences, help more students achieve their education goals, and address barriers for students who haven’t had access to higher education before.”
Davenport’s Global Campus is focusing on two specific areas over the next five years:
- Leveraging artificial intelligence to create courses that adjust to students’ learning style and pace. Davenport is looking to tap technology to help each student connect with the content they need, when they need it, to succeed. For instance, introducing programs that auto-adjust to deliver better practice problems in math class or automatically serve up journal articles on a research assignment.
- Creating new modes of course delivery to reach students underrepresented in higher education. With new partnerships, courses offered on mobile devices, and further investment in the university’s computer labs, Davenport is looking to ensure students can easily access their classes regardless of where they are and how they connect. “Technology continues to evolve. Our economy and business need to continue to grow. We need to make sure that our online programs also evolve to meet the needs of our students and their future employers,” said Miller. “With our renewed focus and investment in this space, I’m excited about the unlimited potential our online programs can offer and the number of students we can reach.”