Ensuring the Rutgers Experience, Even Online

SUCCESS STORY

Ensuring the Rutgers Experience, Even Online

Published on July 22, 2014

What does it take to make sure online students feel connected to their university? Rutgers University knows a thing or two about this. Hear from Dr. Antonius Bittmann about the university’s new “Managed Program.”

Transcript

Antonius Bittman, Ph.D., D.M.A. – Associate Vice President, Online Programs, Rutgers University

We have at this point approximately 45,000 enrollments in the full-online classes for the year. If I include the face-to-face classes and the hybrid classes, then I think the numbers are a lot closer to about 450,000 enrollments per year.

Rutgers made the strategic decision about two to three years ago that it would like to expand and it would like to bring in students who would have otherwise not have attended our face-to-face programs. We would like to grow—we would like to have students outside of New Jersey and in other countries to have the Rutgers experience—so Rutgers made the strategic decision to move online in a major way.

Pearson’s responsibilities are focused on support services and technology infrastructure of course, whereas our responsibilities are what they’ve always been, which is to teach, to hire, to make sure our academic standards are there. Under this program, which we locally refer to as “The Managed Program,” we are now launching – we have launched – this new brand, which is Rutgers Online. So currently we are in year two of this program, and we have 11 degree programs underway. They’re all at the graduate level—they’re all master’s level—and we are now in the process of creating new programs to join that managed program.

It’s true that institutions that have a large online population sometimes see a disconnect between the culture of the online education and the culture on the ground, and it is a problem because you want all students to feel a part of this larger whole. So one of the things we are doing as part of the managed program is to have orientation sessions in certain programs, which are somewhat tailored to the individual program because the programs themselves have their own culture that they want to cultivate.

There is also some effort underway to create social places as part of the managed program where online students can interact with each other. So it’s not just a course or even a degree program, but that several of the degree programs can interact amongst themselves.

Innovation means a lot of things to me. It means new ways of reaching students, it means new ways of educating students, new ways of defining Rutgers as an educational institution. New ways of teaching students that they are members of a global community. The technology is very much a part of this innovation and a part of achieving those objectives. The new ways of teaching also mean that we can, with the help of these new technologies, define a more individualized path of study based on student learner preferences, and the online classroom is an ideal environment to bring these tools to bear and to actually really follow through on this more individualized approach to education.