The University of Iowa

Students from around the world meet once a week in the Lindquist Center to discuss public policymaking. Although, half of these students are behind a camera in Olso, Norway.

Graduate students in Professor Christopher Morphew's Introduction to Public Policymaking class are partnering with a class in Oslo using technology called Zoom and a 360 degree camera to facilitate virtual mobility in a 21st century learning environment. Learn more about Professor Morphew's class and how technology has advanced his teaching.


1. Can you talk a little bit about the class you teach? What are your students learning?

CM: The course is called Introduction to Public Policymaking, which focuses on state higher education policies. This is a course on different state systems. Education is a province of the states in the U.S. When it comes to Higher Education, things happen at the state level. We're focused on how they govern and the different outcomes in policy making.


2. How did you get the idea to include a professor from Norway in your class?

CM: I've known Peter Maassen for 20 years and when I met Peter he was a professor at the University of Twente in the Netherlands teaching Higher Education. I gave a number of friends, and Peter and I always said we should collaborate. We started thinking if we started collaborating, we could bring some of the knowledge our students get to their students and vice versa. They have students from Vietnam, Romania, Russia, Norway and more and it's an international program. Peter sent me a note and said one of their programs is focused on virtual mobility and asked to design a program. We started working and writing together and we were funded for the program. We are going to facilitate mobility without moving a bunch of people. What do you get by studying abroad? You get to be involved in classes where they talk about international issues and have classmates from around the world.


3. What do the students gain from taking a non-traditional class like yours?

CM: I hope they gain a new perspective and understand that the U.S isn't the end all and be all of Higher Education. The U.S has the largest system in the world by far and many would want to emulate it, but there are many things that aren't optimal even if they are optimal understanding how other countries organize their systems.


4. What do you use to connect with Professor Maassen? What are some of the challenges/or advantages of using technology to connect with your fellow professor in Norway?

CM: We use the technology called Zoom in the College of Education. The first class we have tech guys on call and I'm waiting in one Zoom room and they are in another but they are wondering where we are and vice versa. Although, it worked pretty well. We both had 360 cameras, so whoever is talking in the room it focuses on them. My students were surprised with some questions from the Oslo students who are literally from around the world.


5. How has technology been beneficial to you in the classroom?

CM: It has allowed me to plan the classes. Peter and I have to "Zoom" once or twice a week to plan the class. We're going back and fourth on shared documents and none of it would be possible without technology. We'd be mailing students assignments. Without technology we wouldn’t be able to see the students in Oslo or see their expressions when they are listening to me answering their questions. I don’t think we'd be able to put the students together in group assignments without technology.


6. What has been the reaction from students?

CM: It's interesting. Most of them signed up not knowing there would be any comparative component. Some don’t know what to think, but others are excited abut the possibility. The first class was a good one and they came away more enthusiastic about it.

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