Faculty members at universities are often criticized for being reluctant to embrace new digital tools and instruction models, InformationWeek reports. The University of Oklahoma, with its One University digital initiative, is taking the approach that it’s “up to the institution to step up and say we’re going to give you the resources you need,” says CIO Loretta Early.

When OU started One University last year, there already were “lots of pockets” of digital exploration among faculty members, Early says, but the university recognized that it needed a coherent strategy. It couldn’t be just an IT-led initiative, nor was it a matter of deploying more technology, she says. Partnering with academic and research leaders, the university’s IT organization worked to organize and build on the investments already being made.

A new Center for Teaching Excellence began helping faculty members adopt technology — in particular, open educational resources that could take the place of expensive textbooks. For example, the center can assign a grad student to help, says Mark Morvant, a chemistry professor who serves as the center’s executive director.

Most faculty members don’t love their textbooks anyway, Morvant says, and open resources can provide the flexibility to make changes. OU has partnered with OpenStax College, which develops complete textbooks released under a community license, in a modular format that allows for remixes.

Meanwhile, 35 OU faculty members are creating their own iBooks for their courses so that students don’t have to buy costly textbooks at all.

… People in more than 120 countries have accessed OU’s iTunes U, which includes lecture videos and other materials on subjects such as “The Story Of Freedom In America” and “The Origins Of Christianity.” Its OU iTunes channel averages more than 10,000 downloads and 5,000 new subscribers each week. … Designers of the university’s core network had done a good job of anticipating the demands of today’s digital learning, Early says, but the wireless network required upgrades because “what used to be considered a convenience for the students is now essential for the learning experience.”

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eCampus News staff and wire reports


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