Partly because of unprecedented enrollment growth, partly because of student demand, there is renewed interest in online courses, especially at the introductory level. The question is whether some common core requirements might be addressed by online instruction offered University-wide. This would not be a matter of displacing any campus’s offerings, only offering an option to students and thereby taking some pressure off the demands placed on strained campus resources. Campuses would of course need to approve having the online courses fulfill the same requirements as their own required courses.

To explore this possibility, the Office of Academic Affairs offered to support a pilot involving up to six campuses. Each identified a chief faculty contact who to develop and oversee a variant of the same first-year writing course, one based on a successful model developed by Bill Bernhardt of the College of Staten Island and the CUNY Online Baccalaureate. These faculty worked with Professor Bernhardt in developing versions satisfying requirements at their home campuses, versions offered by additional faculty at the participating campuses as well.

After discussions online and face-to-face (and involving the English chairs and writing directors, with sign-off from the chief academic officers), six campuses met the criteria and made the commitment, though one campus was not able to carry that commitment forward.

The courses in the project were offered in the fall 2010 semester. At the end of that term, all participants met to consider the possibility of developing a meta-course with sufficient flexibility to satisfy the requirements and also pedagogical preferences of all the participants. They have agreed to work on a shared resource site and would be interested in pursuing a second-level course but will wait for the Pathways project is further along before committing to that.

The six participating campuses and their chief contacts are:

  • Borough of Manhattan Community College: Claire Pamplin
  • Kingsborough Community College: Jane Weiss
  • Lehman College: Deirdre Oboy
  • New York City College of Technology: George Guida
  • Queensborough Community College: David Humphries
  • School of Professional Studies: Bill Bernhardt