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Piedmont's Latest Plans to Innovate

God has placed new challenges before us, and again he asks that we keep our eye on the mission rather than on the status quo. Education is changing at an astounding pace. Who could have imagined even five years ago that flipped classrooms, long distance music lessons, international chat sessions, and MOOCS for credit would seem not only normal but desirable? But that is the reality of the 21st century. To maintain our faithfulness to our mission and thrive as an institution, we must teach today’s students using today’s methods. And this announcement is to let you know that we intend to do just that.

  • We will enhance student learning while cutting the cost of tuition. Online and traditional classes will be integrated so that students can utilize the delivery that fits their life and learning style. Classes will be “flipped” so that the lecture is available on the web anywhere anytime. Class time will be devoted to discussion, application, practice, and performance. These sessions will be held in technologically advanced seminar classrooms and include additional Q and A and mentoring times with professors.
  • Tuition will be reduced for all undergraduate and graduate programs excluding the PhD. Students will pay less for more innovative, flexible classes focused on real learning and professional competency. Undergraduate students who combine a Piedmont Network Scholarship with a Pell Grant will find the tuition extraordinarily affordable—perhaps as low as only hundreds of dollars a semester.
  • We will expect great things from a world-class faculty and reward them accordingly. Academic advising will now be handled by trained advisors allowing faculty to focus solely on teaching, mentoring, writing, and recording.
  • We will minimize our physical footprint to maximize and conserve resources. This may involve the sale of buildings and property. At the end of this transition we intend to be smaller physically and much larger in student numbers and global influence. We intend to have no debt.
  • We will maintain current approvals and accreditation and seek additional approvals to enhance the credibility of our institution, maintain high standards of quality, and provide students with credentials that serve as a powerful platform for their future.
  • We will Teach All Nations (TAN). Teaching the world is a clear mandate from the mouth of the Lord Jesus, and the church has been trying to accomplish it for over 2000 years. We believe that Piedmont International University can partner with local churches and international ministries to train qualified people in every state and every nation on earth using today’s amazing technology. Our student population will be more diverse in every way than ever before, but we will be unified by a common focus on God, the Gospel, the World, and the Word.

We can “see” an institution of higher learning that is sharp, effective, affordable, “green,” excellent, credible, mission driven, and God honoring. It may look different on the outside, but if you take time to look on the inside, its heart will still look just like your Piedmont.

But why are we telling you this now? The answer is that you can help by doing the following:

  1. Believe in Piedmont. We’re telling you the vision so that you can have the facts. You don’t have to wonder who we are. We’ve just told you as plainly as we know how.
  2. Pray for Piedmont. Teaching the world is an audacious goal for a school that had 567 students in 2012-2013. But we serve an all powerful God who works through his servants in response to prayer. On this campus, 2013-14 is the Year of Prayer. Please join us in asking God to “do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.”
  3. Send students to Piedmont. Too many of us have forgotten that there is no better way to spend a life than to pour it out at Jesus' feet. Let’s fill up the harvest field.
  4. Invest your own resources in real live students in every country on earth. Churches who support Piedmont make it possible for all of their members to receive advanced education at a reduced rate, and they make it possible for their pastors to earn advanced degrees at 1/3 of normal tuition. Individuals who support the university multiply themselves by making it possible for people around the world to proclaim the gospel effectively. Nobody is paying better dividends than God.

We want an informed network of likeminded believers who are determined to accomplish missional living and learning in 2013 and until “the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (I Corinthians 15:52).  To that end, please contact innovate@piedmontu.edu to submit questions about these changes.  Answers will be posted here for the Piedmont community to see.

Q: Why are these changes necessary right now? (updated 9/24/2013)
A: There are countless theories about the future of education (view EPIC 2020 as an example).  But, one thing is sure, the current trend of rising tuition, diminishing returns, and student debt is not sustainable.  Higher education must innovate and become more affordable in order to remain relevant and effective. This infographic demonstrates some of the trends related to online education, but notice that a blended approach like we're proposing will take advantage of the "pros" while avoiding many of the "cons" listed at the bottom. 

Q: What is a flipped classroom? (updated 9/24/2013)
A: This article briefly explains what a flipped classroom looks like in a university setting and this short video is a great way to visually see how changes may look.  A tremendous amount of information and research regarding the effectiveness of flipped classrooms can easily be found online.  This article highlights the way academic video is being implemented to flip classes in a large university.  And, this article takes a look at flipping university classes from the perspective of a faculty member.  Here is one more article that speaks to the advantages of classroom innovation.

Q: How will these changes impact student housing, athletics, etc.? (updated 9/24/2013)
A: Our hope is that we will be poised to provide more options that better suit the needs of our main campus students.  And, we anticipate that athletic programs will continue to play an important role in the future of Piedmont. Innovation and increased efficiency should benefit every aspect of the university.

Q: Will there need to be major changes to any of the current degree programs?  (updated 9/24/2013)
A:  No.  Initial research indicates that each of our existing degree programs will actually be enhanced by these changes.

Q: Can this model be used to teach music courses? (updated 9/24/2013)
A: Absolutely.  Our Dean of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Ron Smith, is already excited about how this new approach can be used to broaden our music offerings.  Here's a very simple example of how music instruction is already being done online.

Q: When will these changes take place? (updated 9/24/2013)
A: A small sample of courses will be flipped for Spring 2014, but the major changes (and reduced tuition rates) will take effect in the Fall of 2014.  
 

 

Do you have a question that you would like to see answered here?
Submit your questions to innovate@piedmontu.edu