Five faculty members have each received $10,000 New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) Individual Artist grants to carry out creative projects, including several that have a focus on public service in the arts. NYSCA also awarded a $40,000…
CODL Is Code for Productive, Engaging Online Learning at Syracuse University
Say “university,” and what often comes to mind are sprawling campuses, vast libraries and jam-packed sports stadiums. Yet in recent times, a rapidly increasing number of post-secondary students have been moving to a new landscape of online learning.
The College of Professional Studies, formerly known as University College, has been dedicated since its founding in 1946 to the unique needs of students, traditionally referred to as “commuters.” Back then—and today still—they attended courses at the University but resided elsewhere in Central New York.
In support of the University’s strategic response to create access and postsecondary educational opportunities (primarily through online programming) for populations that fall outside the traditional residential undergraduate and graduate learner, Dean Michael Frasciello, soon after his appointment in 2017, formed a specialized unit within the college to meet the needs of students seeking a Syracuse University education from anywhere in the world.
Over the past four years, the Center for Online and Digital Learning (CODL) has been quietly and persistently addressing the mission-critical need for a formalized response to the challenges and opportunities of online education.
“The requirement for a center has grown increasingly relevant over the past 20 years as online education has moved into a more significant position within the University’s instructional portfolio,” Frasciello says. “With the recent trend in higher education to expand online programs though outsourcing, it became strategically advantageous and necessary for Syracuse University to build out internal capacity to standardize developing, delivering, supporting and assessing high quality, rigorous and differentiated online programs.”
Leading the CODL team in this mission has been Eileen Julian, bringing more than 24 years of experience at Syracuse University with positions in curriculum, instruction and program administration. She understands the needs of adult, part-time learners well, having earned a master’s degree in higher education from the School of Education and a bachelor’s in liberal studies, both while employed full-time with the University along with raising a family.
Julian has grown staff from just three in 2017 to 30 in 2021 to meet increased demand. Since its inception, CODL has developed 157 online courses, with another 74 currently in development for nine colleges within the University system. More than 4,500 videos for courses have been produced and the graphics created tops 10,000. The team also fully developed the online J.D. program now being offered by the College of Law.
Beyond the immense productivity, Julian is most proud of the quality of work attained for Syracuse University online learners.
“The dean’s charge to us was cutting-edge online instruction,” says Julian. “To realize this goal, we’ve hired not just professionals with online instruction expertise, but also artists and cinematographers to enhance the overall digital learning experience we provide.”
Embracing technological advances has also been a high priority, according to Julian. The team is currently using virtual reality techniques to develop courses in partnership with faculty members in the art therapy master’s program within the College of Visual and Performing Arts. The CODL team further served the University community by helping to move 3,000 courses online in just five days during the spring 2020 semester, as the COVID-19 pandemic affected in-person, on-campus instruction.
The groundwork and achievements of the Center for Online and Digital Learning in four short years bode well for the University as plans for a more well-defined global initiative unfold.
“The College of Professional Studies has 75 years of a solid commitment to continuous learners,” says Dean Frasciello. “We are now also poised to deliver high quality online educational experiences to those seeking access to the Syracuse University Orange community, wherever they may be.”