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Business of Online Education in USA

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Business of
Online Education
in USA
Dr. Jeyakesavan Veerasamy
• Who am I?
What is online education?
Why did it become popular?
How is it done?
Technical Architecture
Future of online education
Potential for online education in India
Who am I?
Why should you listen to me? пЃЉ
Dr. V. Jeyakesavan:
Academia, Industry & Personal
• Dad was a school teacher
• B.E. (ECE) in CEG Guindy, Anna University –
• UNIX System Software Engineer, HCL Limited,
Chennai, 1990-91
• MS Computer Science, University of Texas at
Dallas (UTD), 1991-94
Dr. V. Jeyakesavan:
Academia, Industry & Personal …
• Telecom Software Engineer, Northern Telecom,
Dallas, 1994-97
• Ph.D. Computer Science (part-time), University of
Texas at Dallas (UTD), 1994-99
• Technical Lead, Samsung Telecom, 1997-2010
• Got married in 1998
• Adjunct Faculty, UTD CS department, 1999-2002
• Online Adjunct Faculty in several online
universities from 2000
Dr. V. Jeyakesavan:
Academia, Industry & Personal …
• Adjunct Faculty, Southern Methodist
University, 2010
• Sr. Lecturer (full-time), UTD Computer Science,
• 2 daughters: Nila (8) and Chinmayee (4)
• Passionate about teaching – happy to share
ideas to improve teaching quality in colleges
• Challenging teaching environment in US
Dr. V. Jeyakesavan: Summary
• 18 years experience as Software
• 12 years of teaching experience
(mostly online)
University of Texas at Dallas
• Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and
Computer Science
• Computer Science: ~500 MS students and
~150 PhD students
• Surrounded by 100s of companies in DallasFort Worth metroplex
• Students can get internships right after 2
semesters and continue studies in parallel
• Flyers available – see me after the lecture
What is online education?
Online education
• Education through Internet
• Anywhere, any time, any device connected to
• Asynchronous learning
Fixed # of weeks
All the work is graded & final grade is assigned
Student evaluation of faculty
Degree certificate
Why did it become
Snippets from history
• American higher educational system: Public,
private non-profit, and private for-profit
universities (companies), Regional accreditation
agencies, state agencies
• Question: What is #1 priority for private for-profit
university? Quality or Money?
• First online course ~20 years ago, likely by forprofit university
• First online degree program?
• MBA. Why?
Snippets from history …
• How reliable is online degree? Does it help to
get a job?
• Online colleges got accreditation
• Turning point (my opinion): Traditional
colleges started online degree programs
• Misleading ads: “Point…Click…Degree…”
• Reality: online courses require more work.
Who is a typical online student?
• Working adults who have difficulty attending
a traditional college
• Hard-working employee who wants to get
promoted, but does not have a degree
• Military personnel
• Moms with young children at home
• Students from rural areas
Online education is NOT for every one!
Who is typical online faculty?
• has full-time job in the industry
• works as adjunct faculty
• Why?
– Additional income
– Passion
– More interesting than regular job!
• Lot of retired people too. Why?
– Flexible, travel & teaching can mix
How is it done?
Typical online course
• accessible only to students enrolled in that course
within university OLS (Online Learning System).
• has an assignment due every week or every 2
weeks once
• Participation in Weekly discussion questions
(DQs) is mandatory.
• Courses run for only 5-8 weeks.
• Has 10 to 15 students
• Has students from multiple time-zones,
sometimes from other countries too.
Grading scale for
typical on-ground course
Class Participation: up to 5%
Quizzes/Attendance: 10%
Assignments/Projects: 40%
Exams: 50%
Typical Grading Scale
DQs/participation: 25%
Quizzes: 10%
Assignments: 30%
Exams/Projects: 25%
Team assignments: 10%
Compare with on-ground course
Student-centered vs. Faculty-centered
Lectures optional
Students need to be self-motivated
Forced to participate
Did the student actually do the coursework?
Typical online student
does the following every week:
• logs into the course at least once in 2 days
• reads the book’s chapter(s) for the first 3 days
• makes 4 to 8 posts distributed over the next 4
• submits other assignments towards the end of
the week.
Typical online faculty
does the following every week:
• ensures that weekly material and DQs are setup before
the week starts
• grades the previous week’s assignments
• comments on DQ responses & offers closing thoughts
• responds to “cry for help” posts/emails in timely
• makes phone calls if needed.
• responds to phone calls during office hours
• spends 5 to 15 hours every week for each course
Recent focus
• Continuous improvement in action …
• Utilize relevant web resources in courses
• Develop multimedia lectures to explain tough
• Increase academic rigor – test application of
concepts using weekly quizzes
• Improved communication tools
Major issues?
Plagiarism in popular assignments
Google-generation has limited no patience пЃЊ
Quality of Faculty?
Students’ preparedness
Time-discipline for both students and faculty
Micro-management from university
Low pay to faculty
Weekly DQs (Discussion Questions)
• Goal: Come up with most reasonable answers
through discussion
• Set difficulty of DQs at 110%
• Focus is on discussions, NOT on perfect initial
answers. Wrong answers are perfect discussion
starters! пЃЉ
• Faculty should facilitate & shape the discussion
little bit, but should NOT kill it.
• Goal: each post should add value to the course,
requirement to count towards participation.
DQ strategies
• Basic: 2 to 3 questions
• Expanded: 5 to 10 questions
• Personalized: assign specific question for each
student for posting initial response
• Empowered: designate each student as “DQ
lead” for one question
• More details in another presentation…
Team assignments
• Can it work online?
• Can it be better than on-ground?
• Potential for higher level of contribution from
each student
• More details in separate presentation.
Compare with
• Self-paced learning
• Correspondence education
No commute to college
No need for classrooms
No conflict in course/work schedules
Multimedia lectures can be reused
Learning/teaching can happen any where, any
• Online learning not for every one
• Online learning not suitable for all courses
– Complex labs hard to do online
Technical Architecture
Technical architecture
Online University
OLS server
Online Learning System (OLS)
• Lots of software applications out there.
• Popular ones: Blackboard, Sakai, Moodle, …
• In addition to courses, OLS provides network
space accessible to faculty, courses, …
• Tons of functionality to run the course
Future of Online education?
• High quality online lecture videos
– students can view them at any time
• More acceptance at workplaces
• Learning experience comparable to traditional
• Unlikely to replace traditional education though
Still not for every one!
Potential in India?
Higher education in India
• Attended T4E conference in IIT Chennai, July
14-16 and met several educators.
• Lot of concerns about quality of higher
education, but not many answers
• Online course materials:
– MIT Open courseware
– NPTEL National Programme for Technology
Enhanced Learning
CS & Engineering education:
USA vs. India
college rank
college rank
Can online education work in India?
• Issues & needs are similar to America
• Indra Gandhi Open University runs distance
courses, not clear how close it comes to online
courses run in USA
• Does require reliable broadband connection
• With some adjustments & planning, I believe
online education may work well here too.
Can online educational materials
augment physical classroom?
• Several 3rd tier colleges in Karnataka using
NPTEL course materials (including lectures)
since local faculty not ready to teach those
• It should work in Tamilnadu too.
Thanks for coming!
Dr. Jeyakesavan Veerasamy
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