A couple of months ago I was honored to be asked to give the annual Ernest Boyer lecture at an all -college gathering of Empire State College– State University of New York. I had heard about Empire State for some years, as it was founded in 1971 – about the same time as the Open University UK and my own Athabasca University. Each of these were new initiatives devised new institutional delivery models to increase access to University programming for adults. The OUUK and many of the institutes that were spawned after it (like Athabasca) choose an industrial model of distance education to increase affordability and the access to programming. This meant that specialty course development teams created extensive and often multi-media course packages that were delivered by mostly part time tutors to students at a distance. This model created economy of scale through mass production and division of specialized labour. I had assumed that Empire State operated under a similar model, as it too emphasizes distance education programming, adult learners, flexibility and access.
I was quite wrong! Continue reading