NYT update: Online education at UO

2/19/2013: Good NYT editorial on the limitations of on-line education, with links to research.

10/22/2012: Dash Paulson has a good story in the ODE, with interviews of Cathleen Leue and Garron Hale, who have been working on this for about 10 years now, helping CAS build many successful online versions of regular UO courses. Good discussion of the issues and opportunities:

Leue stressed how important it is to be intentional with developing online software and courses. “Developing a quality online course is not cheap.” Leue said. “Administrators need to be cautioned that this might not be a big cost-saver necessarily. It takes the efforts of a department and everyone involved to deliver quality online classes.”

My department offers a few online classes. If you’re interested in learned more about online classes vs offline classes check out articles at places similar to Upskilled, by the way. The student evaluations consistently report that they are as difficult as our regular courses. Students take their exams in a testing center, while being monitored. There are many Universities that offer online courses though, such as the University of Southern California as just one example.

There is no mention in the story of UO’s new “Global and Online Education initiative”, pushed by a giddy Jim Bean for the past year or so, and run by yet another new $200K administrator. Their very nice website is here. I’ll be dammed if I can figure out what they actually do.

Updated with an old Beangram:

Office of the Senior Vice President and Provost
Message for August 17, 2012


In my previous messages, I gave a brief overview of some of the presentations covered at the July 24 Leadership Retreat. The retreat concluded with a discussion of technologically enhanced education.

Professor Yong Zhao, Associate Dean of Technical and Global Education, spoke to us from Beijing on the future of online education and how the UO can leverage global opportunities to expand our outreach and enhance the student educational experience.

Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Doug Blandy followed up with a presentation on what courses the UO is offering online now and student reasons for choosing online education. In a survey on self-support online courses for Winter and Spring 2012, the top reasons students cited for taking online courses were:

Schedule conflict (24%)
Meet UO requirement (19%)
Course only offered online (10%)
Work (9%)
Subject interest (9%)

On Wednesday, Aug. 15, as a follow-up to the retreat presentation and the request by faculty to look further into online education opportunities, we brought in an expert from the University of Michigan to help us explore policies and procedures for developing pilot courses.

While many believe that online education may never replace the face-to-face pedagogy our institution offers, the reality of the world requires us to consider appropriate uses for such an educational model. We will continue to examine how the UO can best use such technology to enhance the student experience.

In my next message, I will discuss the reality of classroom expansion at the UO.


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23 Responses to NYT update: Online education at UO

  1. Anonymous says:

    They promote Dr. Yong Zhao.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Dr. Zhao also directs the Confucius Institute at Michigan State U. Insofar as it is impossible to figure out what UO’s “Global and Online Education initiative” actually does, it is reasonable to suppose that, like C.I., it is an agent of the Chinese government.

    • Anonymous says:

      Fascinating logic, Anonymous. Insofar as it is impossible to figure out what you actually do, and seeing only your comment, is it reasonable to suppose that you are an agent provocateur of the US government? the Japanese government? the Taiwan government?

    • Anonymous says:

      No need to read anything sinister into “agent” as I use the word in its non-pejorative sense.

      Agent: “a representative, emissary, or official of a government” (Merriam-Webster).

      Confucius Institutes meet that definition spot on — “Confucius Institutes are non-profit public institutions aligned with the Government of the People’s Republic of China that aim to promote Chinese language and culture, support local Chinese teaching internationally, and facilitate cultural exchanges” (Wikipedia).

      The policy question is whether the UO’s “Global and Online Education Initiative” is fulfilling a similar function as C.I. If so, does it advance UO’s educational mission to accept money and the strings that come with it from totalitarian regimes?

      What is the funding source for Dr. Zhao’s salary? What source funds the Global and Online Education program in the College of Education?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Didn’t you read the website:

    “We empower learners to embrace challenges and opportunities in an age of globalization through their talents, by their passions, for their future. “

    Isn’t that clear enough?

    I’m being snarky if that isn’t obvious.

    • Anonymous says:

      Snarky, but not snarky enough – see what counts as a refereed publication on Zhao’s vitae: http://www.thesolutionsjournal.com/node/1077

    • Anonymous says:

      First line in that paper – should give you some idea of his likely reviewers:

      “On November 20, 2006, Premier Wen Jiabao of China invited six education leaders in higher and basic education to the state council for a special meeting. In his usual straightforward and humble manner, Wen told them …”

    • uomatters says:

      Hell, I put in stuff like this all the time about my potential reviewers: “In his seminal 2009 paper, Smith showed …, while in her ovarian 2010 study Jones demonstrated …” In my field I don’t think “humble” would go over well, however!

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s an interesting essay. Also, spending a few seconds looking for his CV, it’s in both the sections “Professional Magazines and Newspapers” and “Referred Journal Articles.” Maybe a mistake? Oh, I forgot, we’re supposed to be automatically irrationally critical of *all* administrators.

    • Anonymous says:

      Define irrational for us?

    • uomatters says:

      At least he posted his vita – how many UO administrators do that?

    • Anonymous says:

      This guy has a University Chair? Who made that call, and did they read actually read any of these papers? I just did, and something’s not right here.

    • UO Matters says:

      It looks like he was appointed by our humble provost:


      with an endowment from an undisclosed donor.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Dr. Zhao represents only Dr. Zhao, though he managed to sell his “global education” bill of goods to Provost, Ed School, and even Lariviere. He is not required to teach and is never on campus long enough to be held accountable.

  5. Anonymous says:

    From where does the money to pay Yong Zhao’s UO salary derive? I’ll bet it is not tuition revenue, not U.S. federal grants, and not Oregon State appropriations. UOMatters is expert at finding out an employee’s salary, but is the source of those salary dollars as readily available?

    • uomatters says:

      Give me a hint about what to ask for.

    • Anonymous says:

      Dog gives a hint

      on ir/alpha the source of the dollars is often identified
      in text or by code, and UOmatters can easily find out what
      most index codes are as they relate to salary

  6. Anonymous says:

    Dog says

    Its really Sandra Gladney that is the most informed and experience about UO ON line education over the last 20 years now. The CAS operation is a weird and inconsistent subset of the larger activity.

    • uomatters says:

      Please explain more, Dog.

    • Anonymous says:

      Dog says

      Nothing to explain. She and Curt Lind run Continuing Ed now
      called Academic Extension and that is where most ON line courses have been run through for the past 20 years. I am not surprised that ODE doesn’t know of there existence.

      I think this entire notion of ON line classes is taking a large
      tangent. Bean is talking about MOOCs and coursera and crap
      like that. If we went there, that would be a mistake.

      Technology assisted curriculum delivery, something I do in my
      spare time, is really the more appropriate descriptor.

    • Hi Dog,

      Actually heard Cathleen Leue drop Gladney’s name as one of best sources for information on this topic, but didn’t have time to talk with her. Definitely worth a follow up.

      Why do you think going towards MOOCs and Coursera would be mistake for UO?

    • Anonymous says:


      Don’t do interviews with reporters – always taken out of context – always

    • Anonymous says:

      I just wish I was gifted with as nifty a moniker as “Dash Paulson.” That’s probably all that stands between where I am and the great American crime novel. Given the name, and the JH beat, I see someone well one the way to my dream…