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World Campus task forces explore customer needs|
By Melissa W. Kaye
| The Advisory Board of Penn States World Campus has formed two task forces that aim to help the distance education initiative keep pace with consumer demands in a high-tech world.|
The Advisory Board, which consists of representatives from business and industry, as well as government and educational organizations, formed the task forces in order to become more involved with the work of the World Campus, beyond its twice-yearly meetings, explained Dr. Gary E. Miller, associate vice president for Distance Education and executive director of the World Campus.
The board wants to work on specific projects with the World Campus in order to help advance Penn States online initiative, Miller said.
One task force will research how the World Campus, which provides global access to Penn State academic programs in a technology-based learning environment, can establish broader, long-term relationships with employers.
We want to get to the point where we have a relationship with employers not just through one particular program of the World Campus, but with our total portfolio, Miller said.
Melinda Stearns, task force liaison and director of Penn State Outreach MarketingClient Development, described such a goal as one-stop shopping and added, We want to collaborate with employers to assess their needs and explore the best ways to provide World Campus products to those corporations, including such programs as business administration, business logistics and engineering.
Task force members are just as eager to explore new educational opportunities to enhance the World Campus.
By combining the World Campus ethic of entrepreneurship with a corporations perspective, you can produce something thats needed in todays corporate, educational and at-home environments, task force member Terence Seese, a former executive of Lucent Technologies, based in Murray Hill, N.J., said.
The other task force will delve into how emerging technologies can shape World Campus courses.
We are still very early into the technology revolution, Miller said. Were still learning how things change from day-to-day. People are using their Palm Pilots for a lot more than addresses and phone numbers. How does that affect people in society and how they get information? Its very important for us to learn that in terms of how we use technology to deliver courses and services to our students.
Dr. Larry Ragan, director of Instructional Design and Development for the World Campus, gave increased broadband width as an example of an emerging technology, adding that with it, future courses might include high-speed video.
Were putting our ears to the ground. Were looking at different applications and asking whether they give us new capabilities that would work to the advantage of students, Ragan said.
Task force member Ellwood Woody Kerkeslager, chief executive officer of Madison, N.J.-based Information Futures, pointed out that technology is what makes the World Campus possible. He said the research can help the initiative identify the best time to use new technologies in its courses.
Hopefully, by forecasting the use of these technologies, we will be able to release them at the right time, Kerkeslager said. If something like streaming video is released too soon and a student is unable to use it, we will disappoint the student. If we release it too late, then our competitors will beat us to the punch. If we forecast this properly, students will be able to use the right tools at the right time.
The World Campus welcomes the expert advice of the board. It is important to talk with leaders in industry on an ongoing basis, Stearns said.
As for the research work itself, it provides an opportunity to unleash Penn States potential, Seese said.