December 7, 2015

3D in Higher Ed (2)

There is a "story behind the story" related to last week's post about 3D education in a higher education setting:

In China, Radio and Television Universities (RTVUs) are open higher education institutions that conduct distance education using interactive multimedia courseware, online courses, and satellite-based distance learning. These RTVUs were created to improve the quality of the work force, adjusting to a large number of learners, particularly in support of non-degree education. To that end, RTVUs operates educational programs for community education centers, municipalities, counties, business and industry needs, rural areas, remote areas, and regions inhabited by ethnic minority groups. Their advantages include lower costs and quicker graduation schemes.

We see a similar trend in U.S. colleges and universities. The trend is described in a recent book by Richard DeMillo, From Abelard to Apple. The theme of DeMillo’s books is that “any college or university can change course if it defines a compelling value proposition (one not based in "institutional envy" of Harvard and Berkeley) and imagines an institution that delivers it.” 

There’s the rub. Smaller and less influential institutions, like these Chinese RTVUs, now seek to accommodate large numbers of new learners in quick and cost effective ways, at the same time competing for students with more well-known and well-endowed universities. One way such second-tier schools are competing is through providing cutting edge visualization tools. (See my recent article, Nevada State College Flies High with 3D.) In both the Nevada State example and the Chinese Jiayuguan Branch RTVU, 3D visualization becomes much more than a sexy technology acquisition—it becomes a value proposition for the school. A draw for students. A competitive edge. A necessity. What are the implications in this story? Some of the most promising--and most likely--pacesetters for display technologies are smaller colleges, universities, and technical schools.

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