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ENE Memo: June 18, 2012

From the Head: 6/18

The Year Ahead: Disruptive Innovations in Higher Education?

This week we welcome a new cohort of prospective engineers to Purdue via the STAR (Student Transition, Advising and Registration) Program. Our FYE Advisors and others will be working very hard as they help these new students to understand and to navigate their options. STAR runs through July 12. This is taking place at a time of considerable local and national discussion and debate about the rising cost of college and possible ways to radically transform education, both higher education and P-12 education.

In recent months two consortia of top-tier universities announced initiatives to move into Massively Open Online Courses (MOOC). Stanford, UC Berkeley, Princeton, Michigan and Pennsylvania are partnering with a start-up company Coursera founded by Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng from Stanford. Coursera describes itself as a “social entrepreneurship company,” and they list their pedagogical foundations. Coursera was established via $16m in venture capital funding. Some years ago, MIT put many of its courses online and open to the public. They have now partnered with Harvard to launch edX, "a transformational new partnership in online education.” It is a jointly owned not-for-profit organization with an initial combined investment of $60m. Interestingly the edX model aims both to enhance campus-based teaching and learning and to build a global community of online learners. They will offer “Certificates of Mastery” to people who demonstrate certain knowledge attainment. Their learning platform will be released as open source software for others to build upon and improve.

In a similar vein, Purdue announced in May the creation of PurdueHUB-U, as “an online education initiative expected to extend from Purdue classrooms to around the planet.” It is built upon the very successful HUBzero software platform developed at Purdue. The goal is “to ensure Purdue expertise and education remains a recognized leader in global education and engagement.” PurdueHUB-U has $2m in seed funding over four years approved by the Purdue Board of Trustees. The expectation is this “modular approach to coursework will allow the same content to be adapted in a flexible manner across a wide range of delivery formats, ranging from blended learning for on-campus courses, to low-cost, low-touch programs available to individuals and institutions.”

Most sectors of our economy and society have been radically transformed over the past decade or so through the adoption of new information technology. Many tasks and jobs that were people-intensive have been eliminated, often through disruptive innovation where the conventional way business has been done is simply swept away. Industries, organizations and individuals often do not see the big change coming, or they dismiss it lightly. In spite of numerous promises of the transformation of education by technology over the past 40 years, the blackboard and the sage on the stage remain a dominant and ubiquitous feature in higher education.

The question we might contemplate as we welcome our new cohort of students is: Are these developments in massive online education in universities the first manifestations of a disruptive innovation in higher education? Do we watch to see what happens? Do we actively engage? Do we ignore it and assume that, after all, education is really a social activity, and it is simply not possible to substantially take the educator out of it; technology can never replace teachers? Time and the choices we make will be the judge.


News and Information: 6/18

ASEE Conference by the Numbers:

ENE booth (Exhibit Hall)The Annual Conference & Exposition of the American Society for Engineering Education is over, and faculty, graduate students, and staff are on to other commitments and projects. Here's a quick run-down of some conference highlights, in numerical form (please mouse over the accompanying photos for captions):

71: Number of ASEE workshops, presentations, and panel sessions involving ENE faculty and graduate students.

ENE alumni reception (Exhibit Hall)

6: Number of institutions in the Engineering Education Research hub, a centralized "neighborhood" (new this year) in the Exhibit Hall for academic programs conducting research in the discipline of engineering education.

3+: Number of additional institutions that would like to be in the neighborhood next year.

66: Number of Purdue stickers given to ENE booth visitors.

11: Number of ENE mugs filled with M&M's presented to ENE PhD alumni at the alumni reception. (Actually,Wickenden Award recipients, including Russell Long and Matt Ohland more than 11 alumni attended, but those who work on campus will get theirs hand-delivered.)

3: Number of awards presented at the ASEE Annual Reception and Banquet involving ENE faculty and staff: (1) the Wickenden Award, to Matt Ohland, Russell Long, et al., for best paper in the Journal of Engineering Education, (2) the Carlson Award for innovation in engineering education, to Bill Oakes, and (3) Fellow membership to Matt Ohland.Carlson Award recipient Bill OakesASEE Fellow Matt Ohland

Calendar: 6/18

Summer 2012

  • June 18 - July 12 - STAR (Student Transition Advising and Registration)
  • June/July - ENGR 132 Summer Section

Fall 2012

  • Aug 14 - ENE Research Advance (10am-3pm)
  • Aug 17 - New PhD student Orientation
  • Aug 20 - Classes Commence
  • Aug 23 - ENE Research Seminar, ARMS BO71, 3:30pm
  • Sept 28 - Inaugural ENE First Year Friday (A celebration of FYE)
  • Sept 28-29 - Alumni Weekend
  • Sept  29 - Family Day (ENE Booth)
  • Oct 12-14 - Homecoming Weekend (ENE Booth and i2i Learning Lab Tours)
  • Oct 24/25 - PhD Open House (TBC)
  • Nov 1 - 2nd Annual ENE Interdisciplinary Colloquium - "Where did I leave my chariot?"
  • Nov 2 - Engineering Education Industrial Advisory Council (E2IAC) - Theme: Research

National or Independence Days around the World

Kudos: 6/18 Senay Purzuer and colleague Dr. Jonathan Hilpert on being chosen as co-recipients of the Helen Plants Award for best special session at the 2011 Frontiers in Education conference. The award will be presented at the 2012 FIE conference in recognition of their session "Cognitive Processes Critical for Ill-Defined Problem Solving: Linking Theory, Research, and Classroom Implications." Lisa Tally and Becky Fry for preparing, setting up, staffing and dismantling the ENE booth at the ASEE Conference and Exhibition. Also a special mention for Lisa for her sustained efforts over the past 12 months in coordinating with the other engineering education departments, centers and programs to bring together the first ever and very successful Engineering Education Research cluster at the ASEE exhibition. Her efforts were much appreciated by our colleagues from those other institutions. all those faculty and students who contributed their time to help staff the ENE booth at the ASEE Exhibition. 

To suggest content for future issues of ENE Memo, contact David Radcliffe or Lisa Tally by midday Friday for the following week's issue.