21st-Century Learning — The Road to OMS

Last week we proudly announced that next spring, Georgia Tech will launch its third online professional master’s program. The Online Master of Science in Cybersecurity (OMS Cybersecurity) program follows its successful predecessors — Computer Science (OMS CS) and Analytics (OMS Analytics) — launched in 2013 and 2017, respectively.

It is worth a look back to see how we got here.

Back in 2011, Georgia Tech made the decision to explore Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) by offering free content on online platforms, first partnering with startup company Coursera the following year. Since then, 2.5 million learners have sampled our material from 60 different courses produced here at Georgia Tech.

Our MOOCs have provided content to many that would have never otherwise enjoyed the opportunity. The Georgia Tech brand literally went around the world. But we achieved two other far more valuable outcomes: Our faculty and staff gained extraordinary experience and confidence in this new online world. Notably, those who participated invariably said that the discipline and structure of the new pedagogy made them better teachers in and out of the regular classroom. In addition, we have developed expertise in Georgia Tech Professional Education (GTPE) and the Center for 21st Century Universities (C21U) that is truly unique. They have strategized and expertly implemented these programs. Innovation prevailed.

The boldest pioneering effort came in 2013 when we launched the OMS CS with Udacity as a platform provider. The creation and success of this program are due to the innovation and dedication of Dean Zvi Galil and the College of Computing. OMS CS now has more than 6,300 students. The formula of success involves a commitment to excellence, expert leveraging of existing successful degrees, broad-interest subject matter that permits scaling, unrelenting dedication and enthusiasm by the participants, great customer service, a willingness to innovate, the support of industry (AT&T in the case of OMS CS), and an affordable price.

In the fall of 2017, we started OMS Analytics, building on the existing residential degree involving the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISyE), the Scheller School of Business, and the College of Computing. The program has benefited from the philanthropy of AT&T and Accenture, is under the directorship of Joel Sokol, uses the edX platform. As we enter the second year, there are more than 1,000 students enrolled, with that number expected to reach 2,000 in another year.

The newly announced OMS Cybersecurity program will be headed by Professor Raheem Beyah. It involves the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, the College of Computing, and the School of Public Policy and is again based on a successful existing program.

All the above programs are extremely affordable, at just a fraction of the cost of their residential equivalents. They are not massive, but they are large. They are not open, students must be admitted, and there is a cost to attend. They lead to degrees and to jobs, and they are excellent options for people around the country and the world. Georgia Tech leads in this type of innovation, and we will continue to prudently but boldly pursue the concept as appropriate.

Rafael L. Bras


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  • OMS Cybersecurity Course Production

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Susie Ivy

Office of the Provost | Institute Leadership Communications