Campus Conversations: Online Learning


Potomac Heights resident hall in the Shenandoah neighborhood. Photo by Evan Cantwell/George Mason University

In his December blog, the Provost invited the campus community to explore how to broaden opportunities for online student learning, and expressed the hope that we as a community could collectively consider how to best expand access to adult learners, working professionals, and underserved populations. As a public research university, we are not only committed to our mission of access but we also have a mission to produce the workforce that will become the engine for innovation. We have demonstrated this commitment throughout our history; our rise as a research-one university and our extensive partnership with community colleges, highlights Mason’s commitment to provide access to excellence.

We have had early success in our online learning through our partnership with Wiley Education Services. For the past two years, we’ve worked together to put graduate programs online, making them accessible to students who are unable or choose not to study here on campus. We’re now expanding our focus more specifically to adult learners—a large and underserved population, many of whom need to increase their skills or earn a degree to be competitive in this ever-evolving economy. If we are to effectively serve this population, we will need to be creative, bold, and willing to challenge traditional higher education models.

There is a great opportunity for innovation in online education where Mason can lead the way; over the past few years, we have already been working on innovative ideas such as stackable credentials, certificates, and degrees. We will have an opportunity to lead in areas such as program design, employer partnerships, and educational technology.

As we consider how to best develop and scale online programs, we’ll need the knowledge, perspectives and feedback of the entire Mason community. This semester, we’re launching a series of conversations that will explore Mason’s opportunities to fulfill our access vision. We will kick off the online learning conversation with the following events:

Wiley State of the Partnership Event
Missed the live event? Check out the webinar recording.
Wednesday, March 27, 2:30 – 3:30 p.m.
Fairfax campus: Merten Hall 1201
Arlington campus: Founders Hall 720 (remote)
SciTech campus: Bull Run Hall 254 (remote)
Michelle Marks will host a Wiley State of the Partnership meeting to discuss our first initiative to scale online programming here at Mason. The meeting will bring together our Wiley partners with faculty and staff to discuss the status, opportunities and challenges of the Wiley partnership, as well as where we are headed in the future.

“Online Programming Panel Discussion” Co-hosted by Faculty Senate and the Office of the Provost
Missed the live event? Check out the webinar recording.
Monday, March 25, 1:00 – 2:30 p.m.
Fairfax campus: Johnson Center Cinema
Arlington campus: Founders Hall 322 (remote)
SciTech campus: Bull Run Hall 254 (remote)
The Office of the Provost and Faculty Senate will jointly host a panel discussion focused on online programming. Recognizing that a diversity of opinions should be voiced, heard and respected, we will present panelists that offer a breadth of opinions and engage in a dynamic discussion that will provide an opportunity to listen and learn.

The Online Revolution in Higher Education with Georgia Tech’s Richard DeMillo
Friday, March 29, 11:00 – 12:00 p.m. — Merten Hall 1204
Richard DeMillo—an American computer scientist, educator, executive, and leading voice in higher education—will share the experience of Georgia Tech in creating high-quality online programs accessible to all students. As Dean of the College of Computing, Rich has been a transformational figure at Georgia Tech. Join us for an opportunity to ask questions about the Georgia Tech model, sustainable economic strategies in higher education, and how to expand access to all students by delivering quality, fully-online programs.

Innovation Conversation with Michelle Marks: Online Education
Thursday, March 21, 11:00 – 12:00 p.m. – Merten Hall 5201
Wednesday, April 17, 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. – Merten Hall 3300
Michelle Marks will host a series of Innovation Conversations exclusively dedicated to the discussion of online programming. These events will bring together small groups of faculty and staff to engage in substantive conversations.To allow for university-wide participation, please limit individual registration to one of the three dates listed.

Provost’s Roundtable: Discussing Online Learning with Faculty
Thursday, April 11, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m. – Merten Hall 5201
Wednesday, April 24, 9:30 – 10:30 a.m. – Merten Hall 5201
Join the Provost to discuss Mason’s future in online education. Come share your perspectives on how we can best expand access to an increasingly diverse student body, including traditional students, adult learners, first-generation students and veterans. To facilitate meaningful discussion, groups will be limited to the first 20 faculty registrants for each date.

Faculty Chat with Michelle Marks: Online Education
Monday, April 22, 8:30 – 9:30 a.m. – Merten Hall 5201
Michelle Marks is leading the university’s effort to grow and scale online programming. Please join her for a discussion about different models for online learning and share your experience as an expert in the classroom. To facilitate meaningful discussion, groups will be limited to the first 20 faculty registrants for each date.


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