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Stony Brook University Taps Michigan’s Dr. Eric Rabkin as Senior Administrator to Oversee Online Education Initiatives

Aug 22, 2013 - 1:00:00 PM

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STONY BROOK, NY, August 22, 2013
–Eric Rabkin, PhD, the Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of English Language and Literature, and of Art and Design at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor will join Stony Brook University in the newly created position of Associate Provost for Online Education (APOE) effective September 1, announced Dennis N. Assanis, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs.

Known for his large, popular lecture courses on science fiction and fantasy, and for his many teaching innovations, Rabkin offered the world's first writing-intensive Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) through Coursera at the University of Michigan in 2012. He has extensive experience with MOOCs and their impact on higher education and as APOE at Stony Brook he will work with SBU faculty and administration to support the creation of MOOCs under the current Open SUNY institutional arrangement with Coursera. He will spearhead campus-wide efforts to elicit, develop, share, implement, and test a full range of ideas, teaching and learning methods in online education from the most basic and modular levels to the most thorough and far-reaching and he will be charged with exploring and supporting the implementation of various online educational options, including hybrid models employing onsite and online components, and credit- and non-credit-bearing educational experiences.

“Our goal is to leverage online channels and technology to enhance and support Stony Brook’s educational mission, which includes emerging as a leader in pedagogical innovation, improving teaching and learning outcomes, and enhancing Stony Brook’s brand and global reach,” said President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D. “A more robust online educational strategy aligns with the University’s mission of offering a 21st Century education, in which creativity, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration are brought together to catalyze a new Stony Brook University learning experience. In this way, online education can also contribute to the implementation of the Chancellor’s Open SUNY and ‘systemness’ visions.”

The need for this new position was identified by a Provostial-University Senate task force which provided long- and short-term strategic recommendations with respect to sustainable online education initiatives. As APOE, Rabkin will be expected to help define and establish an Online Curriculum Laboratory (OCL) through which faculty can create and test online education ideas and resources, thus facilitating the integration of online education into the traditional teaching culture. He will also be expected to help create an administrative structure for ongoing campus-wide advice and activity among the faculty, such as Online Education Executive and Online Education Advisory Councils.  

“Recent developments in technology for online education and the rampant emergence of MOOCs are creating the perception of a game-changing, disruptive educational approach that has the potential to transform both access to education as well as the methods we use to teach our own students and the world,” said Dennis N. Assanis, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at Stony Brook University. “As in the past, technology will open up the gates of public education with respect to new content, pedagogy, teachers, classrooms and students. Furthermore, increasing our online offerings is a strategy that can be used to address some of the challenges that Stony Brook University faces, such as limited classroom space and growing class sizes. More online offerings can also facilitate the attainment of immediate goals, such as improved learning outcomes and graduation rates.”
 
Rabkin earned his B.A. in English from Cornell University in 1967 and his Ph.D. in English from the University of Iowa in 1970. His research interests include fantasy and science fiction, graphic narrative, and traditional literary criticism and theory.

“I see Stony Brook University as a young powerhouse, pursuing breathtaking growth in its service to students, the state, and the world,” said Rabkin, who visited the Stony Brook campus several times to meet with the MOOCs Task Force and to deliver a Provost’s lecture on the topic. “Stony Brook today fosters education and fulfills a host of out-of-the-classroom roles from medical care, to research in myriad fields, to enhancing critical thinking and artistic expression and fostering entrepreneurship. Stony Brook now aims, in all these areas, to make the best possible uses—and pioneering uses—of the tools available in our radically interconnected world. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to collaborate as a member of the Stony Brook community in this broad and exciting pursuit of excellence and achievement.”

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© Stony Brook University 2013

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