‘We’re not building a MOOC’


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A UNCF effort to construct a web based education platform referred to as HBCUv for traditionally Black faculties and universities has loads of voices within the room.

They include 9 HBCUs which are slated to be on the platform by fall 2023. And finally, the aim is to open the platform as much as all HBCUs.

Additionally deeply concerned is an arm of Deloitte Digital, referred to as Ethos. Edward Smith-Lewis, vp for strategic partnerships and institutional applications at UNCF, referred to as the group and Deloitte “an extension of our crew.”

Increased Ed Dive talked with Smith-Lewis about his perspective on HBCUv for a Q&A published last week. Now we’re publishing a dialog with a pacesetter at Deloitte, senior supervisor Nathan Younger, who can also be head of technique for Ethos, for one more view of the challenge.

This interview has been edited for readability and brevity.

HIGHER ED DIVE: How do you view the HBCUv challenge?

Nathan Younger

Permission granted by Deloitte Digital


NATHAN YOUNG: The HBCUv platform is a very formidable initiative. It is type of a moonshot when it comes to education.

Not solely are we trying to type of join and unite all the HBCU campuses in America in a related on-line platform the place college students from, say, Howard College can take lessons from Claflin College in a seamless method, not solely are we making an attempt to ship a best-in-class studying and [learning management system] expertise, however we’re additionally making an attempt to create a social expertise that type of rivals that social expertise that HBCUs are well-known for — the place you make these lifelong connections, these lifelong bonds together with your friends.

What challenges does that pose?

There’s a problem on the technical stage. How can we create software program that’s type of innovative, business main, and ship it in a cheap method? Nevertheless it’s additionally social or societal. How can we seize or reimagine the issues that make attending an HBCU so particular to the tens of millions of Black college students who’ve attended? How can we seize that particular sauce? How can we translate that into a web based setting?

What’s it wish to work with 9 totally different faculties throughout improvement?

They’ve all been vocal and lively earlier than we even received into the base-level concepting of the platform, from the time it was like an concept on the again of a serviette to right this moment. Now we have a reasonably clear imaginative and prescient of what we’re making an attempt to construct.

The 9 institutional companions have been there with us each step of the way in which, not solely offering their very own steerage and opinion, but in addition providing up their school, their employees and their college students so we may get their insights.

For those who have a look at the institutional companions, there may be fairly a range there, from bigger establishments to smaller establishments, Christian establishments to nondenominational establishments. That was actually intentional within the choice of the 9 companions for the early part.

Are you able to evaluate what you are constructing to current know-how?

We need to take what’s nice in regards to the present slate of LMSs and infuse a few of that new pondering, infuse some larger manufacturing worth into it, infuse the prioritization of scholar alternative and scholar flexibility. Give college students the chance to offer real-time and just-in-time suggestions to their professors in order that programs can get higher and evolve.

We definitely wouldn’t be capable to construct the platform we’re making an attempt to construct with out the developments which were made by a number of the pioneers in LMSs, however what we’re making an attempt to do is push it the subsequent step ahead.

Do you anticipate any technical hurdles?

I believe the primary technical hurdle goes to be integration with the scholar info techniques. It is one factor whenever you’re constructing the platform that connects with one establishment’s scholar info system. It is fairly one other when it’s a must to construct a system that connects with, in pilot, 9 totally different establishments. However finally the aim is to have each HBCU on this platform — so tons of of scholar info techniques.

How can we join the info, be certain that it connects to the proper account? How can we be certain that grades come again? How can we be certain that scholar knowledge is protected?

Many of the platforms are doing it on a one-to-one foundation. We’re doing it on a one-to-many foundation. That ramps up the technical problem.

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