POV_Chris Dellarocas

POV: DL&I Looking Ahead 2020

Audio: Looking Ahead 2020 with DL&I Associate Provost Chris Dellarocas


A new decade has begun. Like the “roaring ‘20s” of a century ago, the years ahead will bring a lot of change to many sectors of the economy, not least to higher education. Digital Learning & Innovation is deeply involved in helping Boston University experiment with and build capacity in key areas with significant transformative potential for our institution and for our industry.

Here are some topics that are top of mind for DL&I in 2020 (and beyond).

Chris Dellarocas 2020 QuoteAffordable Learning at Scale

Technology has removed the constraints of time and space, allowing education delivery to larger groups of learners than ever before. Boston University is dynamically entering this space with the launch of our low-cost online MBA in Fall 2020. Delivering a quality program to thousands of learners in ways that are both affordable and sustainable poses new challenges that are not present in conventional residential and online programs. During 2020 DL&I is going to tackle many of these challenges, working hand in hand with Questrom to design, produce and support the delivery of a world class, yet affordable, large scale online MBA. We will also be offering long-overdue faculty development resources for online teaching to the entire University.

Lifelong Learning

Accelerating changes in labor markets drive the need for frequent reskilling. An undergraduate or even graduate degree no longer signals the end of a person’s education. We are witnessing an increase in demand for non-degree credentials that workers seek at various points of their career. DL&I’s Digital Education Incubator is working on lifelong learning projects with COM (COM Beyond), SPH (PHX Population Health Exchange) and STH (School of Theology Lifelong Learning). Through these initiatives, we aim to develop a deeper understanding of the role a large University like BU can and should play in this dynamically evolving space.

Chris Dellarocas 2020 QuoteNew Ways of Engaging Alumni

In a world of lifelong learners, alumni represent one of the most dynamic assets of a large University like BU. Far from being just potential donors, alumni can continue their engagement with the University by harnessing continuing education and career mentoring opportunities, serving as mentors of current students (and one another), hosting student projects, or even complementing the faculty by facilitating and teaching topics that relate to their special expertise. The potential for Universities like BU to become global value adding platforms of lifelong alumni relationships is considerable and an intriguing version for our future. We will soon announce an exciting pilot initiative that aims to significantly increase the ability of one of our Schools to provide nationwide workforce development training by leveraging qualified alumni as an extension and complement of faculty.

Large Lecture Course Transformation

In an era where personalized educational resources are available on everyone’s fingertips and students can access any type of knowledge on their smartphones, it becomes increasingly difficult to defend the continuing use of large lecture courses. Boston University is ripe to reimagine its large lecture classes in ways that better meet the needs of 21st century students. DL&I has previously worked with Questrom in this space and will be launching a number of new initiatives, so please stay tuned.

Chris Dellarocas 2020 Quote
xR in Education

Augmented and Virtual Reality are technologies that are on the cusp of fundamentally changing the way we interact with computers and with one another. They hold great promise for higher education, from more immersive ways to bring distance learners closer to faculty and each other to innovative ways of simulating training environments. We are actively exploring the purposeful application of xR at BU and are excited to announce BU’s first xR teaching and learning initiative—Using VR to Address Social Determinants of Health—developed in collaboration with our Schools of Medicine and Social Work.

Over the next few months, we will be sharing with you more updates on these and all the other transformational initiatives of DL&I. We live in exciting times!


Photograph of Associate Provost for Digital Learning & Innovation Chris DellarocasChris Dellarocas is Boston University’s Associate Provost for Digital Learning & Innovation and Richard C. Shipley Professor of Management at the Questrom School of Business. As Associate Provost, Dellarocas leads the advancement of activities that enhance education at BU through the strategic use of digital technologies.