SUNY Online: Transforming the State University of New York Through Online Learning

Concurrent Session 1
Streamed Session

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Brief Abstract

SUNY Online is a bold initiative designed to dramatically expand SUNY enrollments from post-traditional learners through online degrees at scale.  Attend this session to learn how SUNY Online will transform the online student experience with innovative digital marketing, carefully integrated IT solutions, and intentionally re-designed supports for faculty and students.


Kim A. Scalzo is the Executive Director of Open SUNY, SUNY's system-wide online learning initiatives. Open SUNY is a shared services initiative providing services to SUNY campus leaders, faculty and instructional support staff, online students, and campus student support staff. She is also the Interim Executive Director for Academic Technologies and Information Services with oversight for SUNY's Center for Professional Development and Academic Innovation initiatives. For the past two years she served as a lead facilitator for three Communities of Practice across SUNY to drive innovation and build campus capabilities in the areas of Student Success, New Models for Enhancing Enrollment and Completion, and a Core Framework for Student Information Systems. Kim was previously Director of the SUNY Center for Professional Development at SUNY and Director of Academic Outreach Programs and Professional and Distance Education at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She is a US representative to the IACEE Quality Program for continuing education organizations and co-founder of the Open SUNY Institutional Readiness program to implement quality standards for distance learning organizations. Kim currently serves as Past-President for the International Association of Continuing Engineering Education (IACEE) Council. She has also served as Chair and Director of the Executive Board for the Continuing Professional Development Division of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE-CPD) and a member of the National University Telecommunications Network (NUTN) Advisory Board.

Extended Abstract

SUNY Online is a bold new initiative by the State University of New York designed to dramatically expand its ability to serve post-traditional learners through strategic set of fully online degree programs at scale.  SUNY has identified a set of market-driven degree programs for online delivery with the potential to attract 1000 or more students.  For a diverse system like SUNY, with 64 campuses, 80,000 faculty and staff, dozens of stakeholder groups, and multiple funding models, this initiative presents many challenges.

Academic programs are being selected based on detailed analysis of the projected labor market and the competitive landscape currently being served by online providers and institutions being served by Online Program Managers (OPMs) across the US.  Partner campuses are being selected based on a competitive RFP process.

SUNY Online presents an opportunity for SUNY to reimagine the online student experience with innovative digital marketing strategies and student friendly recruitment and student support processes, as well as a carefully integrated and centrally supported suite of IT solutions.  This is resulting in an intentional redesign of student supports to ensure student success at scale and a redesign of faculty support to ensure quality in online course development and instructional design at scale.  All of this requires a review of financial models and decisions about services provided at the system level versus services provided on SUNY campuses.

The primary goal of SUNY Online is to enable SUNY campuses to reach and serve tens of thousands of new students from New York State, across the US and globally. In achieving that goal, this initiative also has the potential to transform the University and impact the student experience for face-to-face and blended learning students.  There is also an opportunity to create efficiencies and save campuses millions of dollars through shared services.

SUNY Online will formally launch in Fall 2020, with a pilot implementation throughout the 2019-2020 academic year.  The pilot includes testing of all the components of SUNY Online from how to select programs to scale to how the approach for promotion and recruitment of new students.  It also includes a new student support model with SUNY Online student coaches, a new faculty supports model with SUNY Online instructional designers, and the use of artificial intelligence tools both in student recruitment/retention and in online course delivery.   Finally, the pilot is being enabled by a carefully integrated and centrally supported suite of IT solutions, which initially consists of:

  • website of program offerings to capture inquiries
  • customer relationship management system for lead nurturing
  • web application with a view into the student information system
  • learning management system
  • student success platform

Attend this session as members of the SUNY Online staff and campus partners to discuss the vision, motivation, goals, planning, and pilot implementation of this initiative, as well as the lessons learned from the pilot.  You will also hear how transformational change theory is being applied to this initiative to achieve the desired transformational impact of SUNY Online across the SUNY System.  Attendees will also have the opportunity to ask questions and share their experiences and perspectives on transformational change initiatives involving online learning.