ITHAKA The Next Wave 2016: Charles Isbell - Online MS in Computer Science


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Georgia Tech is leading change in higher education through its online masters program in computer science. Charles Isbell, founding team member and professor in the program, shares details on the program - why is was launched, how it is going, and what they are learning as they expand access to higher education.

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ITHAKA The Next Wave 2016: Charles Isbell - Online MS in Computer Science

  2. 2. OMS CS: What is it? • oMS CS • Moving from MOOCs to MOODs, from courses to degrees: Master of Science in Computer Science • …delivered online using MOOC platforms • …equivalent to the MS CS on campus • …for about $6600 (instead of $42,000) • Collaboration among GT, Udacity & AT&T • Announced on May 14, 2013 • Program launched Jan. 15, 2014, now in the ninth term
  3. 3. Why a MOOC-delivered MS CS? • Because we can • Rapidly maturing technology • Rapidly maturing experience: Georgia Tech has more than a million enrollments in its MOOC efforts, multiple iterations and changes • Broad interest: Philanthropic entities, governmental entities, students • CS, MS, CoC are good places to start • Because we should • Frankly, we have a mission to educate when we can • Move away from prestige === saying no
  4. 4. How We Got to a $6,600 Degree • Figure out costs • Charge what it costs at scale: fixed vs recurring • Leave a margin • Gifts from AT&T fund start up costs • Faculty Governance • Appointed faculty working group with minimal College leadership • Final proposal affirmed by 75% of College faculty • Main concerns: quality, quality, quality • Timing and coincidence did help
  5. 5. OMS Enrollments • ~4000 enrollments Fall 2016 (~90% yield) • First 18 graduated December, 60 May, expect 200+ this term • Demographics of enrolled follow applications • Course enrollment melt at any given term: ~20% • what is normal when taking courses for $ not $$$? • …and visas are not an issue? • …and most of them return? • All part-time students • First by our necessity, then by their necessity (60% of first timers enrolled in two courses drop to one) • …but increasingly seeing shift to younger demographics
  6. 6. OMS Applications • 2,361 applicants in first 21 days, two times our on-campus MS CS • ~12,000 applicants since October 2013, about 55% accepted • ~100 countries represented & all 50 U.S. states • Vast majority are degree-holders working in computing/IT • ~725 have advanced degrees • ~125 have PhDs • 80-85% domestic applications: almost complement of on-campus MS CS • Average age: ~35 (11 years older than on-campus MS CS) • We are expanding the market
  7. 7. OMS CS Students Seek Community • Students self-organize on social media • Dozens of pages, groups & communities on Google+ (~60 groups), Facebook, LinkedIn, HipChat, reddit, etc. • Subdivided by individual OMS courses, student geographic location, language & interest areas • Nerdy Bones Google+ group for OMS women w/123 members • Main Google+ OMS community has ~4,000 members • Student Facebook group has ~930 members
  8. 8. GT Computing Community
  9. 9. Not Just Their Obvious Demographics • Uniquely qualified students with control improve class for all • many employed by companies like Google, Amazon & SpaceX • Ed Tech includes current teachers; Health Informatics includes current physicians; ML enjoys data scientists; and so on • Research from Harvard shows that OMS addresses a previously unmet demand for flexible mid-career training: • “Access to OMS CS increases the amount of formal education pursued.” • “Low cost, high quality online education has the potential to improve the stock of STEM-based human capital, in part by meeting the needs of those unable to enroll in traditional, time- and place-constrained coursework.” • 8%(!) a year
  10. 10. Lessons Learned So Far • It is not difficult to create a quality product • Scalability is easy… except the parts that are hard • Day-to-day support mostly scales in courses • Grading does not scale without a lot of creativity • Students are extremely engaged—officially & unofficially • Interacting via self-created social media groups, planning ATL meet-up • Providing significant peer support across a range of issues • Not just a collection of courses but a community built around common goals • They need better program guidance • Better technology for community support including group projects, and tests
  11. 11. What’s Next? • Now taking year-round applications, and beginning to have to really deal with our “minimal” requirements • Ramp up OMS career services • Virtual Career Fair participation each term • Virtual Advising • International outreach (India, China, Africa) • Targeted marketing to boost female, underrepresented minority enrollment • Applying lessons beyond MS CS CoC
  12. 12. Different Ways of Providing Content • Content-focused • Presentation-focused • Interaction-focused • Quizzes/Forums
  13. 13. • Team teaching easier? • Multiple faculty across multiple institutions • Multiple perspectives • Improvised conversational podcasts ≥ lecture? Different Ways of Providing Content
  14. 14. GEORGIA TECH MASTER OF SCIENCE IN COMPUTER SCIENCE… ONLINE Different Ways of Providing Content • Team teaching easier? • Multiple faculty across multiple institutions • Multiple perspectives • Improvised conversational podcasts ≥ lecture?