This blog written by:
Assistant Vice President for Teaching and Learning
Texas A&M University-Kingsville
Digital innovation can be a long winding road at times and is not always suitable for all passengers. There takes a special dynamic to change a mindset of traditional educational practices, but flipping an entire university takes just the right formula. Oral Roberts University, a 2017 USLDA Innovation Award Recipient, had just the right combination to create one of the leading Global Learning Centers that is paving the way for digital creativity that serves a global market of students. Let’s look at the key pieces of the puzzle that ORU put together to lead unparalleled global education developments.
Administrative support for practices that push the boundaries of traditional education are essential to implementing campus wide innovative strategies. Support in the sense of both financial backing to fund practices that may be deemed risky by some but a sound investment by others, and visible support that has the potential to inspire a culture shift. Such was the case at Oral Roberts University (ORU) in 2014, where the Board of Trustees initiated a Globalization Case Statement to initiate the discussion around the global learning center concept. The case statement included that ORU would use “New Paradigms in Technologies to Reach Millions with Whole Person Education.” ORU invested $8.5M into a Global Learning Center that was designed with a global approach to using augmented and virtual reality (AVR). With the idea of the center began the process of looking for a chief information officer who had experience at this level and who would be a change agent and help lead others in an educational adventure that would test the limits of imagination.
Another essential factor in successful innovative deployments at educational institutions is faculty, staff, and student buy in. Identifying individuals who are willing to engage and stand behind practices that have not been vetted by years of educational successes is difficult, but is at the core of establishing a firm pedagogical foundation for innovation. With the entire global university community behind them, ORU designed and currently provides over 8,000 learning objects available via smart phones to a fully immersive virtual reality theater with 500,000 learning environments that can be broadcast around the world.
The last sometimes overlooked pieces of the formula, yet the most vital are patience and resiliency. Every creative idea or program has encountered layers of planning and trials before a complete successful project was in place. Constant reviews of processes and practices only build a stronger product. ORU’s Global Learning Center was not created in a day and not on the first attempt, it took two years of varied approaches to find the right design for success. The end result is now bringing a world of learners together to experience futuristic educational trends and has yielded the following noteworthy accomplishments for faculty who have been leveraging their current curriculum and allowing students to engage in the AVR learning environments: increases in retention and test scores, reduction in time to transfer new knowledge to students, increases in engagement with class materials by students, increases in international students, and establishment of direct connections to industries using AVR.
ORU had the right formula to make what some had deemed unattainable a reality: administrative visible and financial support, a champion and leader of innovation, a community of knowledge producers and consumers who were willing to break the status quo and set new innovative standards for education, and the essential skills of resiliency and patience. A formula that can be replicated at campuses and industries across the globe to revolutionize the way we teach and learn. As CIO Mathews states, “ORU’s Geovision Technology spans the globe to harmoniously connect innovative teamwork with innovative technology solutions that directly impact each student — making ORU’s Flipped University (OneCampus) a true game changer.”
You can learn more about how ORU is Flipping their University at https://vimeo.com/165200782
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Learn more about the USDLA and how you too can be a member. The association supports all core markets including Enterprise, Government, Telemedicine, Education and others.
Our Association is unique, not only for its historical commitment to distance learning, but also for engaging with a broad spectrum of distance learning professionals – K-12, higher education, corporate, government, military, telehealth, and home schooling. While more narrowly focused organizations have an important role, a powerful perspective emerges when bright minds serving diverse constituencies come together.
The USDLA was formed in 1987. At that time, companies like Yahoo and Google were still years away. “Power users” were boasting of their Intel 386 processors. In that context, DL was a concept well outside the educational mainstream. Granted, a few people knew something of the process but hands-on DL experience was rare. USDLA, then, provided a means for these pioneers to find one another.
Today, with more than one-third of college students taking an online class, it’s a far different world but USDLA remains a vital player. Our members continue to seek out other DL professionals. These practitioners still want to grow and want to offer students a strong education in a robust community of learning. Today’s USDLA stands out as a remarkable resource for teachers and administrators who want to enhance the learning experience.