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Purdue To Launch Online Master's Program in Ed Tech

Purdue University is launching an online-only version of its master's degree program focused on learning design and technology. The College of Education program, which has been offered in the traditional in-classroom version for nearly 35 years, will launch the online edition in the fall with the hope that the university will draw students from outside of its traditional recruiting base.

The degree prepares students to design, implement, and evaluate learning materials and experiences that integrate instruction and technology for a variety of fields and organizations.

"If training or instruction is involved, someone with a background in learning design and technology likely played a part," said Maryann Santos de Barona, dean of the College of Education. "Fields such as education, business, industry, and the military have a need for effective training and instruction prepared by skilled professionals. Our program incorporates cutting-edge learning theory, educational technology, and instructional development in a convenient online delivery method--taught by the same faculty as the on-campus classes."

According to Timothy Newby, professor of learning design and technology, there will be no fundamental difference between the in-person and online versions of the courses. "The faculty, many of whom are award-winning educators and known experts, are committed to providing the same educational opportunities for our online students. We want all of our graduates to have a complete understanding of how to facilitate learning through the use of technology."

The new program has been in the works for three years. Students will access a virtual classroom interface where they will post coursework, view assignments, and communicate with the instructor and fellow students.

The university is working with Deltak on the new program. Deltak, which reported that it has created 70 different online programs for other colleges and universities, will be helping Purdue with strategic planning, online course development, faculty support, marketing, and student recruitment and retention. Frequently, in these kinds of partnerships, the two organizations have a revenue-sharing model.

Said Mark Pagano, dean of Continuing Education and Conferences at Purdue: "Part of our plan is to experiment with new mechanisms to provide Purdue's high quality programs to new learners. Working with Deltak represents an innovative approach that will facilitate the program launch by providing broader access quickly and in a convenient manner."

Campus-wide, Purdue student enrollments in online-learning classes totaled about 8,200 in 2009-2010, with 35 percent in courses originating on the Purdue campus. The goal is to create capacity by 2012-2013 for 10,000 enrollments in online courses for Purdue students. "We want at least 60 percent of those enrollments in courses originating at Purdue," said Pagano.

The remaining capacity would be available through partner institutions in the Indiana College Network consortium, he explained. The Network is a consortium of colleges and universities with multiple distance learning programs.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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