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Regent universities to share courses

BY ARIANA WITT | FEBRUARY 11, 2011 7:10 AM

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Officials at the three state Board of Regents’ universities plan to share at least nine courses among the institutions starting in the fall.

Students wil be able to take classes not offered at their home universities at one of the other schools either through traditional online courses or two-way video feed.

The plan only encompasses existing classes, but officials said further consolidating programs could be a way to cut costs.

The project is part of the regents’ Inter-Institutional Cooperation Task Force, formed in 2009. The regents used the task force as a means to consolidate resources and collaborate among the universities in attempts to grow distance education.

“We need to think about what will benefit the institution and do things in a way that is cost effective for students,” said Chet Rzonca, the dean of the UI Division of Continuing Education.

Students who enroll in distance courses pay no additional fees beyond the standard costs of online courses at their enrolled university, said University of Northern Iowa interim Dean of Continuing Education Kent Johnson.

Students at the home institutions would have priority over outside students when enrolling.

Last fall, the University of Iowa and Iowa State University piloted the program with a second-year Greek class, using Eluminate.live technology. The technology allowed one ISU student to interact with the instructor and students in the UI classroom.

Only one ISU student is enrolled in the course this semester, said UI Associate Professor Glenn Storey, who teaches the class in a high-tech Transform, Interact, Learn, Engage classroom.

“Having a student else where is no problem at all,” he said. “The only challenge is that sometimes students forget to push the button on their microphones, and the ISU student doesn’t hear what they say.”

Many of the shared classes will likely resemble more traditional online classes rather than feature such interactive technology, said David Holger, the associate provost for academic programs at ISU.

“All three schools are looking at finding courses that we think will be of interest to students at the other universities and are not already exceeding the capacity of the instructor,” he said.

Rzonca said the UI officials are considering Global Health Issues and an entrepreneurial course to offer UNI and ISU students.

Sharing courses among universities is a growing concept, said Bruce Chaloux, a past president of the Sloan Consortium , an organization that integrates online education into higher education.

“There may be challenges with different tuition, calendars fee structures, and grading systems for universities to work through,” he said. “But the basic concept of having institutions not duplicate courses, the idea that student could pursue such an education is good for the student school and state.”


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