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DCE Magazine

Exploring a New World of Lifelong Education

Fall 2016

Launching a bold new era in lifelong learning, UC Irvine Extension has become the Division of Continuing Education (DCE) — a move celebrated and symbolized by the fall opening of its first building on campus. Not only does the sleek new structure reflect DCE's elevated status within the university, it's poised to expand the division's reach with advanced technology and serve as an international cultural hub, as well.

It points to nothing less than the future of lifelong learning, enhancing UC Irvine's position as a leading global institution and engine of innovation.

“UCI DCE continues to build upon its mission of providing our adult and international students with preeminent educational opportunities,” said UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman. “Its long-standing legacy of serving the community is impressive, and to see it grow with a new state-of-the-art, expansive space is a milestone for the university. The new building will serve as an ideal environment for dynamic learning as well as represent an iconic cultural center for our growing campus.”

Perhaps most significant, the new era heralds DCE's stature as an equal among the university's Graduate Division, Division of Undergraduate Education, and Division of Teaching and Learning. This means shared resources among all four, a move that bodes well for future growth, with DCE's new facilities leading the way.

A new beginning

The five-story building will have 23 classrooms for up to 770 students, including a high-tech distance learning classroom, two computer classrooms, a ballroom, international teacher space and an audio/video studio. The 76,000-square-foot structure, built entirely without state funds, will also include food services and a coffee shop.

Only the second on-campus continuing education building in the UC system, it's designed to serve as an experimental station for new instructional technology and practices.

DCE Building Photo“This building is the culmination of more than five decades of growth and achievement for the continuing education arm of the university,” said Gary Matkin, Dean of Continuing Education at UC Irvine. “The elements incorporated within the design reflect the commitment [of the DCE] toward providing our students with the tools they need to broaden their professional skills and knowledge.”

It's all about advanced technology driving innovation. Start with the centerpiece: a high-tech classroom outfitted with multiple cameras, allowing distance learning for students watching remotely. An array of LCD monitors let the class view remote instruction as well as multimedia, PowerPoint and other presentations, said Bob Rude, Associate Dean of Continuing Education.

“A computer at the teacher's station will allow the instructor to control the displays, switching between camera feeds and computer feeds,” Rude said.

“The system will also allow for live streaming and video capture, permitting lectures to be digitally edited and shared.”

Digital wayfinding displays will ease navigation throughout the building; air quality and temperature will be monitored and maintained at optimum levels. And the DCE building is exceedingly green, boasting the highest LEED Platinum certification, with solar panels, a cool roof membrane, and a system that shuts down lighting and power in areas of the building not in use.

Education innovation

Innovation doesn't stop with technology. The Division of Continuing Education seeks to explore revolutionary teaching methods and course material in a variety of formats, online and hybrid included. One of the new strategies involves stackable learning modules – shorter learning projects that add up to “a more robust and comprehensive learning outcome,” Matkin said.

“The marketplace is telling us that today's students prefer to commit increasingly to shorter learning tasks, but remain committed to long-term learning projects when they see themselves making progress toward their goals,” he added. “DCE will respond to this market demand in creative ways.”

The DCE also plans to expand its free-to-all Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), an exceedingly popular option at UC Irvine that engages about 1 million people each week. MOOCs lower the overall cost of education and are excellent gateways for students to eventually pursue certificate programs and other non-MOOC courses, Matkin said.

Alternative credentialing is another field the DCE intends to enter, providing certificates of competency based on employer-validated learning outcomes.

“Competency-based, shorter learning projects will be validated by DCE to support students’ desires to become more advanced in their professions and their lives,” Matkin added. “DCE remains open to new ideas, new technology, new market trends, and new pedagogy.”

Building a cultural icon

DCE Building PhotoWith its striking, distinctive profile and leading-edge technology, the new DCE building is designed to become a campus landmark as well as an iconic cultural center that symbolizes UC Irvine's growing status and global reach.

The building will serve a broad range of constituencies, including a large number of international students from over 80 countries, weaving their rich cultures into the fabric of the university.

“The scope of UCI's influence on world education is enormous and growing every day, an amazing expression of UCI's commitment to public service and the sharing of our knowledge base and pedagogy with the world,” Matkin said. “UCI now, more than ever, is recognizing the importance of the ‘60 year curriculum’ — lifelong learning for everyone.”