Re: Beyond these walls...

Jeffrey R Galin (galin+@PITT.EDU)
Fri, 27 Sep 1996 11:48:15 -0400

Last year I wrote an article for an inhouse magazine at Pitt that tried to
imagine what English Departments would look like in fifty years. Though
it was a fun piece to write, I wouldn't bank on my predictions. I did say
in the final paragraph, however:

Who knows, in fifty years virtual universities like the current Virtual
On-line University, VOU, may be the norm. Students may take a few classes
at Pitt, one at UC Irvine, and another in University of Milan. By then
video conference technologies will be part of the daily routine. But,
while the world around English departments changes, the work of English
undergrads may look strikingly similar to what it is now, notwithstanding
those of us currently experimenting with computer technologies.

What has interested me about the recent discussion on academic
alternative is how few folks have noted that to call yourself an
alternative to academic or corporate models, is to define yourself in
relation to those models. No matter how much we may want to escape them,
if we want to serve some of the same "student" population, then we do have
to acknowledge the relationships we have to the instituions, formalize
them, and play, in part , by their rules. And, as many of you have
pointed out (as I say above) if we establish such formal relationships,
then we can't expect dramatic change quickly.

Now, I can invision a virtual learning center that does community
work and might have corporate or governement sponsorship. Participants
would sign up for a series of courses from facilitators from all over the
world. I can invision, say a Learning for Life organization that caters
to the growing continuing education market. I heard statistics the other
day that said Americans are living to an average age of 83 now. Many of
them are bored. A neighbor of mine in her seventies is taking classes at
Pitt. I'd be willing to bet that she would rather take a course online if
she had the option.

My point here is that I can see several possible ways to go, as
soon as I begin to define who I am trying to reach. I'm curious Eric,
Nick, Marcy, and others, who are your target "students?"


On Fri, 27 Sep 1996, Beth W. Baldwin wrote:

> On Fri, 27 Sep 1996, Nick Carbone wrote:
> >
> > So to the question of how we begin to find alternatives, one is of course
> > the technology we're using now as an aid to marketing, to finding people
> > who would want what we offer.
> I've got some ideas on the marketing angle -- *but* you/we have to be
> clear about just what it is we have to offer first.
> It's very typical in development for the marketing folks to outpace the
> r&d folks. Marketing goes out and sells a product it really hasn't taken
> the time to make sure it can deliver.
> Think about us as electronic itinerants. Okay, we can teach and we can
> offer to do so from wherever we are through some DL initiative. BUT,
> don't you figure that most folks would want *college credit* for taking
> our classes? This means that we have to work out some affiliation with an
> institution of higher ed. in order to obtain the ultimate *product* that
> is the college credit. How can we hook up to the variety of institions
> for this purpose?
> Beth
> ********************************************
> Beth Baldwin, Ph.D. *
> Office of Continuing Education *
> University of North Carolina at Greensboro *
> Greensboro, NC 27412-5001 *
> 910-334-5301, ext. 44 *
> *
> ********************************************

\ Jeffrey R. Galin
_/ Department of English
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