Page 34 - Campus Technology, August/September 2017
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CAMPUS TECHNOLOGY | August/September 2017
It’s time to get serious about growing online education programs if your institution wants them to be sustainable. This Arizona State University research project is examining the costs and benefits of scaling digital learning in order to share replicable return-on-investment mechanics and tools for any school willing to take on the challenge.
By Dian Schaffhauser
ARE SCHOOLS OVERPAYING for the creation and delivery of their online courses and programs? Is the investment worthwhile? If the expense could be brought down through scaling, would that make online education more sustainable?
Those are the kinds of questions that may be answered in a research project nearing completion at Arizona State University’s EdPlus Action Lab. The lab is headed by Lou Pugliese, a senior innovation fellow at the university and the founding CEO of ed tech stalwart Blackboard. Its current focus is on researching digital learning efficacy, alternative design and delivery modalities and adaptive learning.
What differentiates the lab from other initiatives of its ilk is an emphasis on seeking outcomes that can be put to work. “I got into this research business when I came to ASU about a year-and-a-half ago,” explained Pugliese. “What I found is that most of the research that’s out there — no matter what
— is not really actionable. There wasn’t a takeaway from much of the research. That’s why I changed the dimension of the Action Lab to make it useful and implementable.”
Beyond Best Practices
During a session at this year’s ASU+GSV Summit, Pugliese led a panel discussion on the topic of “ROI Analysis in Digital Teaching and Learning” to share some of the preliminary findings from a research project run by the Action Lab and the Boston Consulting Group and initiated by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The hypothesis was that online courses and programs have certainly matured, but many institutions haven’t really grown their online efforts in ways that would allow them to benefit from the economic and academic efficiencies inherent in scaling.4

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