5 Questions for the CEO of eCornell

Leading a high-touch online university

November 7, 2018

I get a lot of PR pitch emails. Most of them aren't necessarily a good fit for this blog. Oftentimes, the pitch is longer than a novel and I literally can't get through it before I press archive or delete. Once in a while, I get an email that's got a good hook, isn't too lengthy, and offers up something that rises above the pile of pitches.

Whilst this post isn't my usual interview format, it is similar. Let's call it a quick Q and A. Perhaps this will be a new feature for the blog...

In any case, here's the pitch that I received regarding eCornell and Paul Krause, the online education company's Executive Lead and Associate Vice Provost for Online Learning at Cornell University.

A pioneer in the online learning space with a continued focus on raising the bar for high-quality online education, eCornell's enrollment just hit an all-time high, as many online institutions are struggling.

Paul is passionate about being a high-touch online university and would love to connect to tell you more about the online landscape, eCornell's growth story, personalizing online education, and predictions for the industry as a whole.

Here are my 5 quick questions and Paul's insightful answers:

1) Everyone is always saying that their program or initiative is 'different.' Why is eCornell 'different'...from a student perspective as well as from an institutional perspective/strategy?

What makes eCornell unique is a focus on a higher touch, personalized learning experience. Our student experience offers more interaction with faculty through discussions and assignments, as well as more interaction with peers. We structure courses such that students learn by doing -- typically through work-based projects.

Of course, eCornell is also unique as we have been a leader in online education since 2001 -- very early on.

2) How has eCornell 'raised the bar?'

We are focused on delivering transformative learning experiences that help our working professional students achieve their personal and professional goals. We have a relentless focus on improving the learning experiences for students with not only our great faculty experts, but through better instructional approaches, innovative technology, and exceptional support.

3) Who sets the bar?

Our working professional students.

4) How is eCornell using data (for student success) and if so, how?

We use data, including Net Promoter Score, to track the student experience in our courses and constantly look for opportunities to improve it. We want to find out what works and what doesn't.

5) How does eCornell match up a 'high-touch' learner experience whilst growing enrollment?

Many factors have come together to support our rapid enrollment growth. It starts with strong support from the top of the institution -- President Martha Pollack has fully supported building better, more engaging and innovative learning experiences. We have strong support across the Deans and faculty members at Cornell University who have become the strongest advocates for building more programs that reach and engage more people online. And, we have delivered courses that students find impact their lives in powerful ways, so much so that they readily recommend courses to others.


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