September 21, 2012
To the Members of the Yale Community:
As you may know, there have been several successful online education projects delivered within Yale College over the last several years.
The Open Yale Courses (OYC) initiative, directed by Professor Diana Kleiner, has broken ground in many ways, introducing some of our best teachers to the potential for distance education. Through OYC, tens of thousands of individuals around the world have been able to learn from Yale faculty. In addition, in a pilot project, Yale Summer Session launched the first online Yale College courses for credit in 2011, and the initiative expanded this summer with eight online courses. Our colleagues who have taught one of these courses have been very positive about the experience, and Associate Dean Bill Whobrey has reported that many pedagogical innovations have been introduced.
Because of the positive reports I have received from faculty members about their OYC and Yale Summer Session Online experiences, I believe it is time for a thoughtful consideration by Yale College faculty of the potential for online education in ways that would be appropriate for Yale College.
Professors Craig Wright and Paul Bloom, both of whom have taught in Yale Summer Session and participated in the OYC initiative, have agreed to co-chair an Ad Hoc Yale College Committee on Online Education.
I have invited a number of faculty who have been leaders with our online courses, both those developed for Yale Summer Session and those created for OYC, as well as several other individuals who can be helpful in thinking about the various possibilities we might pursue.
The goal will be for the committee to think about what the future for online courses in Yale College should be. Sharing the experiences of those who have participated in the initial online education initiatives (both OYC and Summer Session) will be key to the deliberations, and I am asking a number of our colleagues who have been involved in both projects to join with a few other colleagues.
Given what is happening around the country, I hope that the committee can explore whether there are ways to continue to expand the number of students around the country and the world who could benefit from the outstanding teaching of Yale faculty without diminishing the experience for our matriculated Yale College students or diverting the efforts of the faculty.
We believe the world of online education will present wonderful opportunities for several new initiatives within Yale College, but it is a rapidly evolving landscape. We admire many of the recent announcements made by sister institutions around the world and we are always evaluating the best opportunities to collaborate in ways that invite experimentation while remaining consistent with our goals and vision.
Dean of Yale College
Sterling Professor of the History of Art