ODU-VCCS Work Group Takes Aim at “Generation Next” of College Education in Virginia

Old Dominion University and the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) recently completed a joint planning initiative, laying the cornerstone for a new pact and a vibrant future for Virginia college students.

During the 18-month effort, a unified planning team designed a road map to the future for online and distance learning in Virginia, and outlined objectives for the next generation of this long-standing, strategic alliance. The group committed to shared goals and mutually beneficial collaborations, and to promoting the combined value of their institutions. The team also agreed to establish innovative, streamlined, coordinated student support processes and solutions, and it drafted a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to cement the education accord.

Under the leadership of ODU President John R. Broderick and VCCS Chancellor Glenn DuBois, the team was charged with addressing innovative uses for technology, the future of learning environments, and developing forward-focused articulation agreements.

“The joint work group came together and excelled in addressing a wide variety of programmatic, technological and logistical strategies,” said ODU Interim Associate Vice President for Distance Learning Andy Casiello, the group’s co-leader.

“For example, more than 100 new program articulation agreements are being finalized between the two organizations and will be signed this fall,” he added. “These agreements make it easy for students to complete their associate degree at the community college and move right into the last two years of an articulated four-year program at ODU.”

With numerous action items pending, members of the work group continue to meet, rolling up their sleeves in search of coordinated solutions and cooperative funding opportunities. They are organized into subgroups focusing on academics, finance, instructional design and pedagogy, facilities and space, marketing, and technology.

Harnessing the immense potential of the Internet, the group plans to develop seamless online programs, providing cost-effective and convenient higher education pathways from associate degree to bachelor’s degree and beyond. Once accomplished, the aim then is to export this model across as many program areas as possible in an effort to dramatically increase the number of Virginians with degrees.

“The technology team is focusing on the future, aiming to more completely utilize our physical spaces while maximizing the potential of the Internet for online education,” explained team co-leader Joy Hatch, VCCS vice chancellor for information technology services. “The use of the Internet for online education has really taken off and it is not slowing any time soon. Whether the platform is a laptop or an iPod or an iPad, if we can save resources and share services, the students will benefit from the enhanced educational opportunities.”

Hatch and Casiello agree that the key to the work group’s initial success has been the passionate commitment of its members to finding joint solutions and keeping at the forefront what is best for Virginia college students.

ODU and VCCS leaders will meet soon to sign the MOU, formally backing this “Generation Next” commitment. The document is dramatically different from the MOU it will replace. The enhanced agreement relies on a variety of collaborative activities and initiatives, while focusing on the value of the strategic alliance.

“ODU highly values the enlivened partnership we maintain with the VCCS and looks forward to superior support for our students,” said Casiello.

“This team represents enthusiastic and aggressive approaches to rethinking higher education in Virginia for the benefit of all Virginians. It represents two institutions committed to solving problems, to better serving students with innovative, forward-thinking, mutually agreed-upon solutions.”