Outlier.org Expands to Offer Institutional Partnerships
August 24, 2020
The online education platform Outlier.org began an institutional partnership with Florida Polytechnic University this summer. The company says there is an appetite for their professionally produced online courses beyond their existing direct-to-consumer model. As the majority of undergraduate education remains remote, the company believes it is poised to re-inject value into the online learning experience in the face of ongoing campus closures.
“Through our partnership with Outlier.org, we have been able to uphold our commitment to serving our students through excellence in education as we work together to navigate the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic,” said Dr. Ben Matthew Corpus, Associate Vice Provost at Florida Poly, in a statement. “We look forward to continuing to work with Outlier.org given the need to expand the STEM pipeline in mathematics and science in a labor market dramatically altered by the pandemic. Their innovative delivery and rigor provided our students with a robust foundation while also meeting our mission for affordable, high quality excellence in a public STEM university.”
Outlier.org Expands Partnership with Florida Polytechnic University
Florida Polytechnic piloted the arrangement with Outlier.org this summer. Their Calculus I course witnessed a record collective student achievement. In August, the institution agreed to carry things forward into a bigger partnership. Outlier.org will supply online courses in various STEM fields.
In the world of online education, Outlier.org is a platform designed to closely resemble the conventional experience of undergrad academia, while also aiming to favorably affect the national student debt crisis. Founded in 2019 by Aaron Rasmussen, who also co-founded Masterclass, Outlier.org brings production value to online courses.
— Aaron I Rasmussen (@AaronIRasmussen) April 15, 2020
When the true weight of the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S. back in March, schools were forced to close their campuses and move all courses online with little-to-no preparation for such a sudden event. As a result, the transition from in-person to online classes was chaotic, with many college students struggling to find the motivation to continue their rigorous coursework in an environment that is normally associated with leisure time.
Some students had to work harder than normal to maintain a stable GPA in this format. Much to the institutions’ credit, many tried to ease this conflict by giving their undergraduate students the option of a Pass or No Pass grading option. However, this option does not always bode well on a transcript when entering the job market or applying to graduate school.
Online Education by Design
Though many colleges did try their best given the current circumstances, students and instructors alike struggled to adapt to the unanticipated switch of format. The key word here is “unanticipated,” which is often overlooked by those with a critical eye towards online learning. While one could not exactly call the timing of Outlier.org’s launch as coincidental, Rasmussen was working on the conception of Outlier.org long before the emergence of COVID-19. His experience with Masterclass has helped him to master the art of holding attention spans, arguably the most vital component to an online session. There is a glimmer of light in the perceived dark world of socially distant education; that leading minds are thinking of solutions before the problems even arise.
One of the most popular critiques of online learning is that it ignores the importance of being “present” in an educational setting. Bob Samuels of the University Council-AFT (a union representing faculty in the University of California system) writes “I worry that students are losing the ability to make eye contact and read body language, and that they are not being prepared to be effective citizens, workers, and family members. This disconnect from in-person communication also relates to a distance from the natural world, and a growing indifference to the destruction of our environment. In this alienation from nature and natural environments, people, also lose the ability to distinguish between true and false representations.”
To mitigate these factors, more institutions may be inclined to follow Outlier.org’s high-production online learning model.
Featured image courtesy of Outlier.org