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First presidential leadership lecture focuses on technology in education

PresidentialLeadershipLecture-4Dr. Richard DeMillo, a distinguished professor of computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology, discussed technology’s role in the evolving landscape of higher education during the first Presidential Leadership Lecture Series at Jackson State University.

JSU President Carolyn W. Meyers said the series was established to bring “thought leaders” to the campus to inform faculty, staff and others about developments in education delivery and practices. Meyers said much has changed in higher education over the last few decades.

“The landscape is dramatically different. That’s exciting. It’s challenging and it’s scary,” Meyers said Thursday ahead of DeMillo’s lecture. “We’ve got to constantly learn and grow. That is what this lecture series is about.”

DeMillo, the author of Abelard to Apple: The Fate of American Colleges and Universities, specifically discussed the benefits of the massive open online course, known as a MOOC. DeMillo referenced MOOCs offered by three Stanford University professors that each drew 150,000 enrollees from around the globe. He said the online design helps professors identify the best methods for teaching success. One of the courses was based on a model that requires students to master one concept before progressing to the next – a method that has not been widely used because it can be cost-prohibitive in traditional class settings.

“A lot of the ‘you can’t’ gets removed from the process because of technology,” DeMillo said. “We are going to remove the restrictions and technology is a key enabler to do that.”

DeMillo was questioned about the cost of offering a MOOC, which are usually free courses that provide a certificate upon completion. He said the average cost to an institution is about $50,000 per course. He said the goal is to get those MOOC students to eventually enroll in the institution and pay tuition.

PresidentialLeadershipLecture-1“We have a plan to put 10 percent of Georgia Tech’s catalogue into MOOC format in the next 10 years. We want to give students a choice as to what format they want to take,” he said.

DeMillo was chief technology officer for Hewlett-Packard, where he had worldwide responsibility for technology and technology strategy. Prior to joining HP, DeMillo was vice president and general manager in charge of information and computer sciences research at Telcordia Technologies (formerly Bellcore) in Morristown, N.J. He also directed the Computer and Computation Research Division of the National Science Foundation.

His academic career has included stints at Purdue University, The University of Wisconsin and the University of Padua (Italy). He currently serves as the director of the Center for 21st Century Universities.

After his presentation, a question-and-answer session was held. Among those in attendance were Dr. Beverly Hogan, president of Tougaloo College; Bob Owens, president of the Mississippi Board of Trustees of Institutions of Higher Learning; JSU Provost James C. Renick and David Hoard, JSU’s vice president of Institutional Advancement.

Cassandra Hawkins-Wilson, a professor of developmental English at JSU, said she took four pages of notes during the lecture. Hawkins-Wilson is in the process of flipping her classroom curriculum to accommodate students who use iPads provided through a scholarship at JSU.

“I want to change my content and curriculum to fit technology. I want the students to know YouTube can be used for more than just entertainment. It could be used as a resource to write a paper or thesis statement,” she said.

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