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ASU: Laser-Focused on Ensuring the Current Learning Experience; Sights Set on Designs for the Future
A Q&A with Kyle Bowen
We’re happy to be catching up with Kyle Bowen for the first time since his move to Arizona State University in February 2020 to assume his new post in the University Technology Office as the executive director of ASU’s Learning Experience Group. Here, we learn how the university can continue to offer students the experiences they expect from an ASU education during the current phase of remote learning and how, at the same time, the institution can leverage its work into plans for the future.
“We are laser-focused on ensuring that our students continue to have the kinds of educational opportunities that attracted them to Arizona State University.”
— Kyle Bowen
Mary Grush: I’m sure you and your colleagues have been exceptionally busy these past few months serving the necessity of remote learning while, I expect, setting your sights on innovations for the future. What have you been focusing on most? Has Zoom been a big part of your strategy in the current times?
Kyle Bowen: This is a period in time during which we are laser-focused on ensuring that our students continue to have the kinds of educational opportunities that attracted them to Arizona State University.
As did most institutions, ASU entered into its own particular kind of remote instruction period this past spring semester. At the time, I had recently joined the Learning Experience Group, an academic support and learning design team for the university that launched in February 2020. Talk about perfect timing!
During the shift to remote instruction, a central element of our successful transition was making sure our learning environments preserved the connection between the faculty and students.
That’s where we were able to leverage Zoom, heavily at first. Today, our campus is consuming literally millions of minutes of Zoom time in the delivery of live, online classes, with nearly 19,000 class sessions streamed via Zoom already this fall semester. Looking back, our support for a large volume of synchronous remote classes has demonstrated the myriad possibilities and potential of this type of delivery.
Grush: So ASU is doing a large amount of Zoom meetings right now for remote instruction. Are you planning for an expansion of blended learning and other modes of digital instruction for some time — hopefully soon — in the future?
Bowen: Zoom is hugely important, though it is only one of the tools that we are using to expand our support of three distinct modalities for now and for the near future at ASU, including: online courses; immersive on-campus courses; and ASU Sync, which allows for students to engage in the same types of learning activities offered online and on campus in a live and synchronous form, using Zoom and other tools. To date, the initiative has activated more than 960 permanent or portable ASU Sync-enabled classrooms throughout our campuses.
Again, what our live, synchronous remote classes do so well is that they help us make sure students can continue to engage with their professors, ASU resources, and the values of an education they’ve come to expect at ASU.
What our live, synchronous remote classes do so well is that they help us make sure students can continue to engage with their professors, ASU resources, and the values of an education they’ve come to expect at ASU.
And this is only going to improve over time. There are growing opportunities for greater degrees of personalization as well as for the development of new and different types of learning experiences, both on campus and in our surrounding learning communities. Such learning opportunities are live and interactive, and, at the same time they are complemented by engaging digital experiences.