Exploring Frontiers: Benchmarking e-Learning excellence at ASU and UHCL

By Philip Machoka

The Director of eLearning at USIU-Africa Online, Dr. Philip Machoka, recently undertook a comprehensive benchmarking initiative during his visit to Arizona State University (ASU) and the University of Houston Clearlake (UHCL). His focus was on evaluating the cutting-edge technology employed to support the development, teaching, and learning of online courses.

During his enlightening 3-day visit to ASU, hosted by the University Design Institute (UDI) alongside EdPlus, an enterprise unit for ASU focused on the design and scalable delivery of digital teaching and learning models boasting an impressive array of 297 online programs, the Director delved into the intricacies of online course development. His tour of EdPlus included visits to state-of-the-art studios, where he engaged with instructional designers and the media production team, gaining valuable insights into their processes.

Dale Johnson, Director, Digital Innovation, University Design Institute (UDI), provided an in-depth overview of the university's journey in the online space. The campus tour further exposed Dr. Machoka to ASU Library Makerspace, that offers access to 3D printing, laser cutting, sewing machines, podcast studios, a space that provides students and staff with the tools and technology to create. He also visited virtual reality labs, contemporary reading spaces, and dynamic active learning classrooms. Notably, he had the privilege of meeting the Dr. Minu Ipe, Vice Chair and Managing Director of University Design Institute, adding a strategic dimension to his experience.

At the University of Houston Clearlake (UHCL), the Director continued his exploration by recording a 30-minute micro-lecture in the cutting-edge Onebutton studio - an automated turnkey studio system for presenting, recording and livestreaming. His visit also included a tour of the active learning classrooms, contributing to a comprehensive understanding of UHCL's commitment to advanced teaching methodologies.

This benchmarking endeavor not only facilitated a cross-institutional exchange of ideas but also underscored the pivotal role technology plays in shaping the future of online education. The Director's interactions with key stakeholders and firsthand experiences with innovative spaces solidify USIU-Africa Online's commitment to staying at the forefront of eLearning excellence.

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