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Frequently Asked Questions

About Technology-Enhanced Education

(Prepared in September 2013 to facilitate committee consultations with the NYU community)



1. Why are NYU and other institutions so interested in the use of technology in education?

NYU has always sought to use best practices in pedagogy to deliver a very high-quality education to its students. A growing body of data supports the fact that certain technologies, especially when combined with in-person classroom interactions, may enhance learning. In the context of a rapidly changing world that is less tolerant of increased costs of education, and in which various technologies are rapidly improving, NYU, like other institutions, must stay competitive as it strives to provide the best possible education.

Over the past year there has been extensive discussion internationally about “massive open online courses” (MOOCs). These online courses provide a way of reaching significantly larger numbers of students, of extending the global reach of academic programs, and of providing a showcase for institutions’ scholarly and teaching excellence. But as technologies and institutions’ priorities evolve, what is understood by the term “MOOC” is changing rapidly. In addition, this represents only one part of the broad continuum of technology-enhanced education, which stretches from in-person lecture courses and seminars with digital enhancements, to “flipped” classes, to “hybrid” or “blended” courses, to fully online courses (see question #4 below).

The University’s long-term goal is to deploy technology-enhanced approaches that improve the quality of education, enable students to take full advantage of opportunities provided by the Global Network University, increase access to NYU, and preserve the ideals of scholarship and research that have contributed to our success in the past and will fuel our progress in the coming decades.

2. How does NYU make decisions about what strategic directions we should take regarding technology?

Decisions about technology-enhanced education at NYU will always reflect the University’s commitment to shared governance. As evidenced by the recently established inventory of over 600 technology-enhanced courses and programs across the various NYU schools, curricular decisions are made at the school level, using their existing faculty governance and course - or curriculum-approval mechanisms. At the University level, a standing committee of faculty and administrators, the Teaching Technology Committee (TTC),  was established in 2010 to make recommendations to the University leadership regarding institutional investments in instructional technology. One of the first and most consequential recommendations made by the TTC was that the University move from Blackboard to a new learning management system, NYU Classes; this transition was successfully accomplished this past year. In addition, in January 2013, the Faculty Committee on the Future of Technology-Enhanced Education at NYU was created to set forth principles and parameters that can guide the University in using technology to support its academic mission and further its commitment to innovation in teaching and learning, pedagogical practices, and research. In July 2013, the committee issued an interim report, available here. The committee will begin consultations with faculty in the fall 2013 semester and will issue its final report shortly thereafter. Finally, the Board of Trustees has a technology subcommittee that is also considering these issues.

3. Where at NYU can individual faculty and departments go for help in using technology in teaching and to enhance students’ learning?

Some (though not all) schools at NYU offer such help for their faculty. At the University level, a new service model has been put in place, beginning in fall 2013. Over the spring and summer of 2013, a collaborative team of representatives from the Libraries, Information Technology Services (ITS), Global Technology Services (GTS), and the Center for the Advancement of Teaching (CAT) worked on the new model. This new approach aims to coordinate, augment, and streamline the instructional technology support services that the various units provide, in order to provide faculty with a simpler means of finding and receiving support for using technology in their teaching. This enhanced service model, which is currently being piloted, involves the following components:

• a new single, user-friendly website ( has been created to facilitate access to services and also to provide answers to common questions;

• a new, common intake process, wherever faculty enter the system—e.g., via the website; by calling the ITS Service Desk (212-998-3333; push prompt 4 for “instructional technology support”); or by visiting a facility, such as as the Digital Studio on the 5th floor of Bobst, or the CTE;

• Online text-, animation-, and video-based tutorials—e.g., on how to upload videos into NYU Stream; how to access survey software; and how to create an online test;

• a new workflow, to enable the relevant University units (Libraries, ITS, GTS, the CAT, and interested schools) to direct faculty to the most appropriate resource in the shortest amount of time; and

• new facilities for collaboration and consultation between faculty and instructional technologists.

User feedback will be essential to improving and developing this system over the coming months, and faculty and instructors (including graduate students who lead recitations) are therefore encouraged to submit comments via the new website.

4. What are some ways in which online materials can be used in instruction?

The term “online” is used throughout these FAQs. This is a shorthand convention that encompasses a broad range of technology enhancements to courses. These run from, e.g., course-level tools, exercises, websites, and other activities that students do outside of their in-person courses, to extensive use of video and audio content accessed via the Internet and used in “flipped” classrooms, to materials for hybrid/blended courses, to fully online courses. Where greater precision is necessary, the term “online” has been modified—e.g., “fully online,” “online components.”

a. What is an “Learning Portfolio”?

A learning portfolio, also known as an “ePortfolio,” is a set of artifacts, in a variety of media, that are collected and presented online and that provide direct evidence of an individual’s learning, mastery (e.g., of a skill or a discipline), and/or accomplishments over time. A number of accrediting bodies have begun requiring that student learning data be collected and shared via some kind of Learning Portfolio system, and (partly as a result of this) these technologies have already been adopted by approximately 50 percent of colleges and universities. Over the past several months, many groups at NYU have expressed interest in Learning Portfolios to collect, track, and showcase content to specific audiences. In response, in summer 2013 the Learning Management System (LMS) subcommittee of the University-wide Teaching Technology Committee began a three-phase project to guide NYU from research and planning to implementation of an Learning Portfolio solution.

b. What is a “flipped” class?

A “flipped” class refers to a course that has a regular meeting pattern but in which lectures or other content are delivered online and in-class time is devoted entirely to discussion.

c. What is a “hybrid” or “blended” course? Does NYU offer any?

The term “hybrid” or “blended” refers to courses that incorporate both online and in-person components. As with most terms used in technology-enhanced education, the definition of terms is evolving. To many, hybrid or blended means that the online and in-person components are more or less in equal proportion. But there are myriad ways, beyond this roughly equal proportion, in which courses can blend online and in-person education—e.g., synchronous online video or audio, with multiple participation points; intensive use of in-person instruction over limited periods of time; or multi-site, multi-time in-person sessions that rotate between sites and online. Given this variety, the terms “hybrid” and “blended” may eventually take on new meanings that depend more on pedagogy than upon preconceived units of time.

At NYU there are currently over 75 credit-bearing courses that fit the accepted description of “hybrid” or “blended” courses; a list of these courses (and the programs through which they are offered) is available in the inventory of technology-enhanced courses on the website of the Faculty Committee on the Future of Technology-Enhanced Education at NYU.

d. What is a fully online course? Does NYU offer any?

A fully online course is one in which instruction is delivered exclusively via the Internet, using video-, animation-, and/or text-based materials. It may or may not include some the following components: exercises, evaluation tools, and interactive features linking the students to the faculty and to one another. In addition, it may or may not be offered for credit.
At NYU, four schools (Dentistry, Law, NYU-Poly, and SCPS) currently offer credit-bearing online courses, and a list of over 200 such courses (and the programs through which they are offered) can be found in the inventory of technology-enhanced courses on the website of the Faculty Committee on the Future of Technology-Enhanced Education at NYU. In addition, over 200 courses are offered on a non-credit basis, as part of the continuing and professional education programs located in SCPS (view the list of non-credit courses).

e. What is “open education”? Does NYU have such a program?

“Open education” (OE—also known as “open courseware”) describes the concept of sharing educational resources freely around the world to anyone who is interested and has an Internet connection. Over the past few years, several colleges and universities have mounted OE courses in a variety of formats; most often, lecture capture technology has been used to produce video recordings of faculty as they teach their in-person courses on campus.

In 2010, NYU was among the first institutions to launch an Open Education pilot. Like most institutional OE initiatives, NYU’s program is tuition-free and does not award any certificates, diplomas, credits, or grades to students who complete an OE course.


5. What has NYU been doing to ensure adequate classroom architecture to support technology-enhanced teaching and learning?

The University is in the final stage of a five-year, $9.7 million classroom upgrade. Over 90% of general purpose classrooms now meet the “smart classroom” standard, which includes the following features: wireless internet access; a computer with standard software (and, where appropriate, specialized software); inputs for additional devices; built-in A/V capability; and a centralized media control system. These classrooms are scheduled by Room Assignments.

6. I would like to use videoconferencing to team-teach with faculty at Global sites and portal campuses; how many rooms are available and how do I reserve them?

Videoconferencing (VC) capacity is available in 28 general purpose classrooms and proprietary (i.e., school or departmental) classrooms on the Square and throughout the GNU. All VC rooms have lecture-capture capability, a feature that is also available in a number of non-VC-equipped proprietary classrooms. A list of the VC rooms that are available this fall can be found here, together with information on how to schedule them. (Please note that over 15 new VC rooms will be added to this list by fall 2014.)


7. What is NYU’s policy about offering fully online courses for credit?

There is no University-wide policy about offering fully online courses for credit; rather, individual schools decide whether and how to award credit for such courses, using their existing faculty governance and course- or curriculum-approval mechanisms. At present, credit-bearing courses are offered in an online format in the following schools: Dentistry, Law, NYU-Poly, and SCPS. These courses, which number over 200, are included in the inventory of technology-enhanced courses and programs that is available on the website of the Faculty Committee on the Future of Technology-Enhanced Education at NYU (click here to access this page, for which you will need your NYU Net ID and password).

8. Will the University join a MOOC consortium or partner with companies that provide online expertise?

In their effort to build and market online courses, institutions have been entering into two types of relationships: (a) joining a so-called “MOOC consortium” (e.g., Coursera, which is for-profit, and edX, which is non-profit); or (b) partnering with a full-service online provider (e.g., 2-U, Pearson Embanet). NYU will not make an institution-wide commitment to either type of arrangement at this time; before making such a commitment, we need to identify or develop a clear set of strategic institutional objectives. Doing so would involve extensive consultation with schools, departments, faculty, and students—consultation that places the question of MOOCs and partnerships in the broader context of NYU’s commitment to excellence in education and the use of technology to serve that commitment. The Faculty Committee on the Future of Technology-Enhanced Education is engaging in such consultation throughout the fall 2013 semester.

9. What platform will be used for the online courses (or online components of courses) that schools develop?

The term “platform” refers to the undergirding technology that supports the University’s teaching and learning needs. NYU Classes, the University’s new learning management system (LMS), is a flexible, open-source platform that facilitates faculty innovation at multiple points along the technology-enhanced education (TEE) continuum. Integrated with the University’s login services and its student information system (SIS), the NYU Classes platform serves as a user-centered “front-door” to a wide range of digital teaching tools that can either be developed or hosted there. The University’s partnership with Amazon EC2 cloud services, for example, will allow for future innovation in TEE tools that can be scaled and deployed globally. The range of activities that the NYU Classes platform could potentially support is vast. Faculty could, for example, engage students in web chats or synchronous video, adaptive assessments, or interactive animations and simulations. A model could potentially be manipulated in 3D space, tagged with notes and discussions, all during a real-time web video chat. Further along on the continuum of TEE, the University is also exploring how to extend the NYU Classes platform to develop the kinds of technological enhancements that can support fully online courses.

10. What procedure should a faculty member follow if s/he wishes build an online course?

Faculty who are interested in developing online courses should first approach their department chair (or equivalent). Proposals should then be developed in consultation with the relevant Dean and should ultimately be reviewed through the existing faculty governance and course- or curriculum-approval mechanisms within the school. Resources, including instructional technologists, exist for faculty whose proposals for online courses have successfully gone through the applicable school and University approvals process.

11. Who reviews or approves fully online course offerings at NYU?

Like all courses taught at NYU, decisions about whether and how to offer online courses are made within the schools, using their existing faculty governance and course- or curriculum-approval mechanisms.

12. Who owns the intellectual property of a fully online course?

The issue of ownership of rights to an online course is determined on a case-by-case basis and is governed both by NYU’s IP Policy and by any agreement between the faculty member(s) and NYU regarding the creation of the course. As NYU’s IP Policy makes clear, ordinarily faculty members own the copyright to materials they generate for their courses, including materials they generate for online courses, when those materials do not utilize significant investments of University resources. The policy makes clear, however, that when the University commissions a faculty member to generate materials for a course, including an online course, and where the University invests substantial resources in staff time, compensation, technology infrastructure, and/or other capital outlays, such works are owned by the University. Under such commissioned work agreements, the University ordinarily offers the faculty member an equitable share of revenues received from the commercial exploitation of such works, should they ever be offered to non-NYU students. The terms for royalty sharing are specified in the agreement between the faculty member and the University. Moreover, the University will work directly with faculty members to ensure that the materials generated are used in ways consistent with the faculty member’s original commission. Further, the commissioned work agreement will ordinarily grant to the faculty member a license to use the materials in his or her own work without a fee. Finally, should the faculty member depart the University, she or he is ordinarily free under the agreement to create other materials, leaving only the original performance as owned by NYU.

13. Will courses be updated on a regular basis to ensure their intellectual sustainability?



14. Will faculty receive compensation and/or course release for participating in the development of an online course?

Yes. Issues of compensation and course release involve a discussion between the involved faculty member(s) and the relevant department(s) and/or school(s). Such compensation and/or course release vary by department or school, and from course to course, and not all uses of technology enhancements will lead to compensation or course release. A faculty member should consult with his or her department or school to determine whether she or he is eligible for compensation or course release in developing an online course.

15. What about compensation and/or course release when faculty teach an online course?

As with developing such courses, compensation or release decisions rest with the faculty member’s department and/or school.

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