By Carl Straumsheim
In the face of mounting financial challenges, some small colleges are hoping that — together — they can be as innovative in the online education space as the big guys.
The Council of Independent Colleges and the Teagle Foundation, which supports undergraduate education in arts and sciences, are among some of the organizations pushing for a liberal arts approach to online or hybrid education through recent initiatives that invite small colleges to work together and learn from one another.
The question they hope to address, as spelled out in Teagle’s request for proposals: “How can institutions work together to integrate forms of online education into residential liberal arts settings in productive ways that maintain or enhance the effectiveness of learning and address issues of institutional capacity?” (The organization is willing to dole out grants as large as $280,000 to small groups of collaborating institutions for answers.)
The CIC’s initiative, which will launch next year, plans to bring 20 of the organization’s members together in a Consortium for Online Humanities Instruction. Each college or university will commit to creating two upper-level humanities courses that use or reuse online educational resources, or feature technologies that enable automated grading or online collaboration. The hope is that these courses could soon be enrolling students not only at their home institution, but also from other CIC members, which could help curb costs.
For all the “dos” listed in the announcement, there is only one “don’t”: Pitching a massive open online course.
“When MOOCs sprang onto the scene, I kept asking myself what the CIC should do to position itself,” said Richard Ekman, president of the CIC. “For the longest time, I thought we should make a special deal with a major MOOC provider. Then I realized that I was barking up the wrong tree.”
[ Full article available at Inside Higher Ed: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2014/03/19/consortiums-and-collaboration-abound-small-college-sector ]