Syracuse iSchool Offers MOOCs, Commits to Online Community

The Syracuse University School of Information Studies, also known as the iSchool, is offering its third massive open online course (MOOC) to celebrate 20 years of innovation in online education, writes Lydia Wilson in the Daily Orange.

The school also plans to offer a series of informational webinars to help the school stay at the forefront of online learning. According to Jill Hurst-Wahl, an associate professor of practice at the iSchool, says enrollment in MOOCs and online courses has grown since their inception at the school and more students interested in online learning options. She said that the school plans to integrate those who are primarily enrolled online into campus life.

The iSchool is offering Applied Data Science, their third MOOC, which will taught by Jeffrey Stanton, senior associate dean at the iSchool. The course, which is now available and is accepting students, is an introduction to data architecture, acquisition, analysis and archiving class.

Kathryn Allen, executive director of special academic program initiatives for the iSchool, said the school selected to hold its anniversary celebrations this week as an extension of the United States Distance Learning Association's National Distance Learning Week.

The week was created to promote and celebrate improvement and growth in online courses. Allen further said the iSchool held conferences and education sessions regarding online education during National Distance Learning Week.

Also, the school has implemented several programs and events to ensure that online students are able connect with other Syracuse University students and the campus, according to Hurst-Wahl, associate professor of practice. The school's initiatives for online students include a one-week residency where they are able to meet each other, faculty and staff while completing pre-course work, she said.

"We find that students become a cohort during this time and form relationships that will last their entire degree program and beyond," Hurst-Wahl said.

"I have found that our campus students want to include online students in their campus events and frequently try to find ways of making that happen, whether it is through Adobe Connect, Skype, or some other way," she added.

In addition, the iSchool will be hosting a series of free webinars as part of the 20th anniversary celebration to cover topics such as community, information and data management, and data science.

The school so far held two webinars and is planning to hold at least one more. Hurst-Wahl held a webinar titled "Giving Your First Conference Presentation: What No One Tells You (or When PowerPoint and Good Intentions Meet Reality)," which drew more than 80 viewers.

"For the iSchool specifically, 20 years gives us a reason to celebrate, yet we recognize that how online education is delivered continues to change. We know we need to keep pace with the changes, rather than rest on our laurels," Hurst-Wahl said.

11 13, 2013
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