On campus beat: MnSCU poised to make 'bold shift'

  • Article by: JENNA ROSS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 19, 2013 - 8:18 PM

Instead of acting like a random collection of campuses, the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities must become a more strategic system.

This “bold shift,” outlined in a new report released Wednesday, could require further campus and center mergers, relocating academic programs and offering a single portal to the system’s online offerings.

The report is meant to be strategic and doesn’t delve into specifics. But some of its concepts could prove to be controversial.

The 35-page draft report is the result of seven months of work.

In November, Chancellor Steven Rosenstone charged three work groups — with a total of 46 presidents, staff, students and others — with creating a plan to confront “wicked questions” around the future of higher education and the system itself.

Next, the groups will get feedback, debate other ideas and submit final recommendations to the board of trustees in October for a vote.

“The process does not end today; it actually begins today,” Rosenstone said Wednesday.

Read the report and submit feedback at www.mnscu.edu/strategicworkgroups.

One interesting recommendation: Have a statewide standard for awarding credit for the learning students do before enrolling, such as military training — or the massive open online courses known as MOOCs that more students are taking for free.

Right now, colleges and universities make those credit decisions with little coordination.

“As such, students are often unaware of the opportunities to demonstrate their competency in a subject through credit for prior learning,” the report says.

In a “revelation,” the groups “sidestepped the whole issue of MOOCs,” said Winona State President Scott Olson. “To MOOC or not to MOOC is not the question. Really, it’s about … how do students learn best.”

The report advises MnSCU to “seize the opportunity” to give credit for MOOCs. But it suggests that the system refrain from creating the courses.

Too pricey, the report says. For now.

 

Jenna Ross • 612-673-7168 Twitter: @ByJenna

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