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iSchool professor receives grant from education firm that some criticize

Courtesy of SU Photo and Imaging Center

Jeffrey Saltz, an associate professor at the iSchool, obtained one of nine grants from the company that adds up to nearly $200,000 to study student learning outcomes in online education, according to an SU News release.

A professor in Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies received a research grant from 2U, an education technology company that some say could drag down the quality of education.

Jeffrey Saltz, an associate professor at the iSchool, obtained one of nine grants from the company that adds up to nearly $200,000 to study student learning outcomes in online education, according to an SU News release. The research grant is earmarked for examining how students who are enrolled in his online course behave and learn in the separate breakout sessions.

This is the first year the company has given a grant to its “partner institutions,” according to the news release.

“I’m interested to see how this plays out,” Saltz said in the release of his research plan. “I’m also working on some different experiments for my face-to-face classes as well, and I’m curious to see where the differences might be.”

SU has formed multiple partnerships between 2U and SU schools and colleges to create online and hybrid degree programs, including with the iSchool last fall. The company has also partnered with the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, the Martin J. Whitman School of Management, the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and the College of Law.  Those online programs are geared toward individuals who cannot get to campus for residential programs, such as professionals with established careers, people with disabilities or active-duty military personnel.

Some people within the SU College of Law expressed skepticism and fear that the online program provided by 2U might diminish the law school’s reputation. Cody Carbone, then-president of SU’s Student Bar Association, told The Daily Orange last April that students felt “blindsided” because they are not aware of the details of the program, saying that only faculty members were involved in the discussion about creating the program.

SU Chancellor Kent Syverud was dean of the law school at St. Louis’ Washington University when 2U launched its first online law program in January 2013.

“There’s a win-win in this for my students, 2U and myself,” Saltz said in the release. “With this research, I hope I can provide a process or methodology that other faculty within 2U’s ecosystem, both here at Syracuse and at other partner schools can use in their teaching — while also improving my own online classroom practices in a way that enhances student learning.”

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