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DCU announces major commitment to online education

  • Over 30 programmes to be available online by 2013
  • Five year roadmap for online education announced by DCU President, Prof Brian MacCraith
  • New agreement with Google to deploy Chromebooks for first year students
  • Over eighty per cent of DCU's programmes will be available in blended / online format by 2015, it was announced today (Tuesday 13th Sept) as part of the university's major commitment to online education.

    The university, which already is the largest university provider of online education in Ireland, has confirmed that an additional fifteen new undergraduate and postgraduate programmes will be available either online or blended (combination of online and face-to-face) during the academic year 2012/13.

    The addition of the new programmes, one from each of the university's academic departments, combined with DCU's existing online offering, will bring the total number of online programmes to over thirty. The new additions will be a combination of entirely new programmes or existing programmes currently available at the university.

    New students, existing students and teaching staff will all benefit from the university's increased focus on blended and online education, which will start to be implemented this September, at the start of the new academic year. By 2012 over 100 staff will have taken part in specialised training in online teaching with a further 200 expected to complete the training by 2015.

    Plans are also underway to collaborate more on teaching and learning initiatives with universities in India, China and the US, through online tutorials, virtual classrooms and shared best practice between students and academics.

    New Agreement with Google
    As part of this online strategy, DCU also announced a new agreement with Google to purchase Chromebooks for Education, becoming the first higher education institution in Europe to adopt the devices. DCU will be providing the Chromebooks to students on a small number of selected programmes at no charge.

    Chromebooks, built and optimised for the web, offer a faster, simpler and more secure experience without all the headaches of ordinary computers. With built-in Wi-Fi or 3G, switching on or rebooting in only 8 seconds, they can save precious lecture time and allow students to get connected anytime and anywhere, accessing information and documents quickly and easily.

    Commenting on today's announcement, DCU President, Professor Brian MacCraith said: "It is very clear that the future of all education, and higher education in particular, will have a significant online dimension. This future is all about 'blended learning', and this means a flexible combination of online interactions and face-to-face learning. This approach will enhance not only choices and flexibility but also the quality of the learning experience.

    "The way students learn and the way we teach is changing rapidly and we need to develop solutions that take into account how people access information today and how they share knowledge. Everyone should be offered every opportunity for a good education and location and time should no longer be inhibiting factors. This on-line approach will facilitate learning at any time and any place" MacCraith added.

    "We are delighted with the support offered by Google and look forward to seeing how the trial with first year students develops and how our relationship with Google can continue." MacCraith said.

    William Florance, Head of Google Education for EMEA, added: "At Google, we believe most innovation will happen on the web and technology should be an enabler rather than a burden to students or IT teams. Today, most young people work and interact online. What they need is a simple, fast and secure way to access the web, wherever they want and whenever they want. Our commitment to this 100% web philosophy has led us to develop a product that is built and optimised for online. We are delighted to see DCU sharing this vision and deploying Chromebooks for their students, fully realising the benefits cloud services bring to education."

    The latest (September 2011) CAO data on take-up of university places show that Dublin City University is the only Irish university to exhibit an increase in numbers since last year. DCU is one of only two universities in Ireland to have improved its position in the world rankings of universities announced earlier this month. In the latest QS (Quacquarelli Symonds) rankings, DCU has increased by four places and is ranked 326 overall on the international league table and 100 on employer reputation. This is a remarkable achievement for a university that is only 22 years old this year.

    Today's announcement and commitment to online education is likely to further increase DCU's popularity and enhance its position as a leading, dynamic university not just in Ireland but overseas.

    The latest report on Online Education in the United States (2010) by The Sloan Consortium shows that:

    • Online enrolments (in the US) have continued to grow at rates far in excess of the total higher education student population
    • Nearly 30 per cent of higher education students now take at least one course online
    • Over three-quarters of academic leaders at public institutions report that online is as good as or better than face-to-face instruction
    • Three quarters of institutions report that the economic downturn has increased demand or online courses and programmes
    • Virtually all recent growth in online enrolments has come from the growth of existing offerings, not from institutions new to online starting new programmes
    • The proportion of chief academic offers saying that online education is critical to their long-term-strategy took an upward turn this past year. The percentage of institutions that agree with this statement reached its highest level in 2010 (63.1%)