On September 24th, 2015, David Joyner presented a talk to the GVU Brown Bag Series titled “The Impact of the Students in the Georgia Tech Online Masters in CS”. The full talk and the abstract are below.
In 2014, the College of Computing embarked on an incredible experiment: a low-cost, high-quality Masters degree in Computer Science, targeted at working professionals and delivered via the internet. While distance learning has been around for decades, this online Masters leveraged principles from recent MOOCs to drastically cut tuition and maximize course quality. While incredible investment has been devoted to developing professional material and delivering a quality experience, one variable could not have been anticipated: the impact of the amazing students in the program. The main takeaway from my time working on this program is that the OMS program has attracted amazing students, and the structure of the program lets them do amazing things. In this talk, I’ll report on the OMSCS (Online Masters in CS) program nearing the two year mark, focusing especially on the role students have had in the program’s success. I’ll discuss the qualifications that the students in the program bring, and how the flexibility and affordability of the program is allowing students to participate who would not be able to otherwise. I’ll discuss how those amazing students are, in turn, elevating the quality of the program as a whole, and ultimately teaching each other as much as they learn from us. I’ll discuss the unique affordances of the program, and how it gives those students influence and impact that would be difficult in a traditional program. Finally, I’ll also deliver some comments direct from students about their experience in the program. The hope is that this talk will inspire others to get involved in online initiatives like the OMSCS, and equip others with the knowledge to structure the program to maximize student impact.