Annual report 2006-2007
The Education Committee has met a total of eight times during the past academic year. The committee agenda has been substantial especially during the Spring Semester and it will continue to keep several of its members busy well into this summer.
The committee reviewed and modified the questionnaire that is used to evaluate new academic programs five years after senate approval. The questionnaire now has improved sections for outcomes assessment. A copy of the questionnaire will be added to the link on the senate web page on “starting a new academic program” to make new program directors aware in a timely fashion of the data that they are expected to provide for the 5-year review.
Because of the revision of the questionnaire the reviews of 4 programs, which were to be implemented during academic year 2006-2007 by a subcommittee with assistance from the Office of the Vice-Provost, were delayed until the Spring semester. The data will be reviewed when the committee reconvenes in September 2007.
The committee received proposals for a total of six new degree programs and, after subcommittee and committee review, submitted two resolutions for approval by the senate:
The four other proposals (MS degree in Oral History; PhD degree in Behavioral Nutrition; dual MA degree in International and World History with the London School of Economics; and a dual BS/MS degree in Electrical Engineering) were received in March and April of 2007. They were assigned to subcommittees for review during the summer and for committee action early in the fall semester of 2007
Four other resolutions were submitted to the senate for approval. Resolutions to:
The full committee invited the following guests for consultation:
On the subject of establishing an Institute for Comparative Literature and Society:
On the subject of the academic calendar:
The Academic Calendar is reviewed and approved by the Education Committee. Previously the calendar had been approved for a ten-year period through 2011.
However, a recurring problem is faced in the fall semesters of certain academic years: when a late Labor Day (September 7) can cause a reduction in study days and final exam dates that are very close to the Christmas holiday. Since NYSED requirements are for a 15-week term, there are few solutions to this problem, other than starting the academic year the week before Labor Day during certain years, discontinuing the election break, etc.. No generally applicable solutions could be generated for this problem, which had also been discussed in the 2005-2006 academic year. The committee requested that the Registrar provide it with copies of academic calendars as they are prepared, in order to determine if any ad-hoc solutions for a given year might be found.
In its continuing efforts to inform itself about the use of new media in on-campus and on line learning, the committee devoted several meetings to this subject. While the meeting with the directors of DKV and an outside vendor highlighted the issues of marketing on-line programs and the high start-up costs of producing an on-line course of sufficient quality to fit the reputation of Columbia University, the committee members continued to express serious concerns about partnerships with outside private firms for the creation and delivery of on-line degree programs.
The committee was generally convinced that in distance learning programs management aspects of a course may displace the educational aspects. It reiterated the general conviction that in education dialogue is essential. Pitfalls to be avoided include courses with on-line lectures only, without the possibility of face-to-face engagement. Blended models for distance learning should be explored. Successful models in the use of new media might include interactive simulations with problem-solving options.
The committee decided to meet with the directors of CCNMTL on an annual basis for an update on current projects and for the development of a database of successful applications involving the use of new media.
CCNMTL currently focuses on complimenting and enriching
existing courses on-campus, but is interested in the development of on-line
courses. The members of the committee felt that the Center’s focus is on
enriching the educational experience, rather than the entrepreneurial side of
distance learning and views the Center as a significant resource for
Finally, in consultation with the Structure and Operations Committee, the Libraries Committee, and the Ad Hoc Committee on Online Learning, the Education Committee agreed to support a proposal for a Resolution to amend the composition and jurisdiction of the committee to include examination of new online/distance learning applications and to support a Resolution to create a new Committee on information and Communications Technology, to replace the Ad Hoc Committee on Online Learning.
The committee wishes to express its sincere appreciation to Trustee emerita Anna Longobardo, Trustee observer, for her continued interest and efforts on behalf of the committee, as well as her active participation in the committee meetings. Her advice and perspectives have greatly assisted the committee in its activities. The committee has similarly benefited in the past from the input of several alumni representatives and hopes that a new alumnus will be appointed to the committee next year to continue this valuable contribution to the work of the committee.
Chair, Education Committee