I’ve been watching with great interest the unfolding tumult resulting from the ouster of Theresa Sullivan as the president of the University of Virginia, with her cautious approach to implementing online education apparently one of the main motivations driving the conspiracy against her. When the rector of the Board of Visitors, Helen Dragas, issued a statement on the forced resignation, she included this point:
2. The changing role of technology in adding value to the reach and quality of the educational experience of our students. Bold experimentation and advances by the distinguished likes of Stanford, Harvard, and MIT have brought online learning into the mainstream, virtually overnight. Stanford’s president, John Hennessy, predicted that “there’s a tsunami coming”, based on the response to online course offerings at Stanford (one course enrolled an astounding 160,000 students). Michigan, Penn, Princeton, Yale, and Carnegie Mellon are all taking aggressive steps in this direction. The University of Virginia has no centralized approach to dealing with this potentially transformational development.
I have many thoughts about that paragraph: I am working on my own implementations of digitally-inflected teaching; I’m an alumnus of UVA, where I first heard about implementations of the digital humanities in office-hour conversations with Jerome McGann (who played a large role in making UVA a true leader in digital innovation); and last fall, I took one of the Stanford online courses, ballyhooed by Dragas, that seem to have caused much of the fuss at UVA and elsewhere. This will be the first of a series of short posts about the current happenings.