The Learning MarketSpace, July 2006
A quarterly electronic newsletter of the National Center for Academic Transformation highlighting ongoing examples of redesigned learning environments using technology and examining issues related to their development and implementation.
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Offering perspectives on issues and developments at the nexus of higher education and information technology
What's Next? A New National Organization
The need to increase access, improve student learning and control or reduce rising costs continues to challenge American higher education. These issues are, of course, interrelated. As tuition costs continue to rise, access is curtailed. Promises to increase access ring hollow when large numbers of students fail to graduate.
The solutions to these challenges are also interrelated. Historically, improving quality or increasing access has meant increasing costs; reducing costs has meant reducing quality and/or access. To sustain its vitality while serving a growing and increasingly diverse student body, higher education must find ways to resolve the familiar tradeoff between quality and cost.
In partnership with more than 60 colleges and universities, the National Center for Academic Transformation (NCAT) has shown how using information technology to redesign courses can improve student learning while reducing instructional costs. Each participating institution has found that success depends upon collaboration among faculty members, professional staff and administrators.
NCAT has now been involved in a number of course redesign programs. From 1999-2004, NCAT managed a national project, the Program in Course Redesign (PCR), involving 50,000 students at 30 institutions. The results of that program are well-known to readers of The Learning MarketSpace. From 2003-2006, NCAT managed a second national project, the Roadmap to Redesign, involving 26,500 students at 20 institutions. Preliminary results show similar results to the PCR with regard to improved learning, increased retention and reduced costs. (Final results will be reported in the October 2006 and January 2007 issues of this newsletter.) Institutions that have participated in both of these programs want to find ways to share their experiences and scale their successes.
NCAT is also working with states and higher education systems to create local programs by building on the two national programs in order to impact greater numbers of students, faculty members and institutions. Colleges and universities in Hawaii , Ohio , Minnesota and Maryland have embarked upon redesign programs. These institutions also want to find ways to share their experiences and scale their successes.
NCAT has been telling the story of how course redesign can improve student learning while reducing instructional costs at conferences and campuses across the nation. In response, campus leaders including executive staff, faculty members and professional staff want to find ways to initiate course redesign efforts on their campuses and to learn from the experiences of those who have done so successfully.
NCAT’s Corporate Associate Program brings companies and educational institutions together. Institutions participating in cutting-edge course redesigns want to have knowledge of the best content and best technology available to produce the best outcomes; companies want to learn what is needed by institutions to further our shared mission of improved learning at reduced costs. These companies ( Bedford , Freeman and Worth; Houghton Mifflin; Pearson Education; and, Thomson Learning) want to find ways to scale what they have learned to the broader higher education community.
Constituents in each of these efforts have asked us, in a nutshell, What’s next? What a great question! This means to us that we have already created an informal community in higher education that wants to move forward and build on what we’ve accomplished thus far.
What does moving forward mean?
First, it means creating a more formal community that will support ongoing connections among those already committed to course redesign. Institutions that have completed a large-scale course redesign want to find ways to continually improve their redesigns and to scale their successes throughout their institutions. Whether it’s faculty members who have already implemented a redesign and want to consult with colleagues about how to improve what they’re already doing, institutions that have successfully completed one course redesign and want to initiate redesigns in other disciplines, institutions that want to leverage their success to garner greater state support for their efforts—that’s what we mean and that’s what we want to facilitate.
Second, it means finding a way for individual campuses to become involved in course redesign. Institutions that have not yet embarked upon a large-scale course redesign want to learn from the experiences of those that have done so and to collaborate with knowledgeable faculty and staff to accelerate the redesign process. We are continually asked, how can we become involved? We need a place for those campuses to learn more than can be conveyed in a single presentation. These new institutions want to collaborate with those who have accomplished a successful redesign and to build on those successes rather than reinventing the wheel.
We believe that the right response is to form a new national organization dedicated to improving student learning while reducing instructional costs through course redesign. Our model for the organization is the NLII, which I initiated while at Educom in the early 1990’s. That initiative (now the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative) continues to thrive and has grown quite large. EDUCAUSE makes an ongoing contribution to the general conversation about the role of technology in teaching and learning as do other existing organizations like the Sloan-sponsored ALN and the WCET.
My notion is that we need an organization with a specific focus on course redesign that links practitioners to practitioners and provides a place where those in higher education who want to learn more about course redesign can do so. The organization would pursue its mission by creating a community of higher education institutions and others who are committed to and experienced with large-scale course redesign. It would widen the community of those involved in course redesign by holding a series of meetings and conferences that would 1) enable those experienced in course redesign to exchange ideas and experiences, and 2) establish a place where new colleagues can learn about the benefits of course redesign and how to implement course redesign on their home campuses. We anticipate participation from both institutions of higher education and companies with an interest in higher education such as publishers and technology companies.
We would establish a dues structure of $5,000 annually per institution. We model this on similar technology-oriented organizations, all of which have annual dues which are relatively modest compared to the major presidential higher education associations. The dues would support the planning, coordination, publicity, communication, and facilities issues associated with running a conference and a series of smaller meetings, topics to be determined by the membership.
What would be the goals and objectives of the new organization?
What would be its areas of work?
I hope that those of you who are committed to taking advantage of the power of information technology to transform our teaching and learning environments will respond to this idea. We have a great opportunity to build a community that can deal with the most pressing issues facing American higher education in a constructive way. Assuming there is sufficient interest and support, we will issue a format Call to Participate sometime in the fall. Please let me know if you are interested.
--Carol A. Twigg
Featuring updates and announcements from the Center
Are you new to course redesign? Do you want to find a way to introduce someone—a faculty member, an administrator, a CIO, a trustee—who is new to course redesign to the topic? While the NCAT web site contains an enormous amount of information about course redesign, we have recently added a list of recommended reading—called “New to Course Redesign” —in response to this need at http://www.thencat.org/Rec_Reading.htm. The link displays a list of resources that provides a good overview of NCAT’s redesign methodology and the successful outcomes that institutions in our programs have achieved. The list can serve as a source of information to precede a discussion about redesign on your campus. If you have any questions or suggestions for additions to the list, be sure to contact us.
We’ve been searching for a photo for our home page that captures the essence of what NCAT is trying to achieve. It hasn’t been easy! We didn’t want a photo of students using computers. While technology plays an essential role in course redesign, the key to improving learning while reducing costs is not more or better technology but rather a substantial change in the way we think about teaching and learning in higher education. In our presentations about course redesign around the country, we have often summed up the reason for limited student success in introductory course by using a singular image that conveys what’s wrong with traditional formats. We’ve used this image with a twist. Please let us know if you think it captures what we’re all about—see www.theNCAT.org.
The Scottish Funding Council (SFC) is engaged in a large-scale national initiative to transform the learning experiences of students in higher and further education. The initiative is titled “E-learning and Transformation Change” and focuses on enhancing student learning by using many of the principles that have emerged from NCAT programs. The SFC has provided about $10 million USD to fund six multi-institutional projects. In early June, NCAT staff visited Scotland and shared the successful experiences of the institutions that have redesigned courses as part of the Program in Course Redesign and the Roadmap to Redesign. Participants in the six Scottish projects came together for a day to exchange ideas and to learn from the NCAT experience. Carol Twigg also keynoted a conference on “The Learner Driver” sponsored by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) that featured the six projects. Carol gave a second presentation on course redesign at the University of Edinburgh . NCAT staff also met with the leadership of the Interactive University to exchange ideas about online program strategies. To learn more about the SFC projects, contact Bill Harvey at BHarvey@sfc.ac.uk or see http://www.sfc.ac.uk/information/information_learning/transformational_change.html. To learn more about Scotland’s Interactive University , see http://www.interactiveuniversity.net/company/scotland.aspx.
Featuring initiatives to scale course redesign through state- and system-wide redesign programs
Under the leadership of Chancellor Brit Kirwan and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Irv Goldstein, the University System of Maryland (USM) will partner with the National Center for Academic Transformation to offer a systemwide program in course redesign. USM has been implementing an Effectiveness and Efficiency Project (E&E) to optimize the use of system resources and yield an estimated $26.6 million in savings and cost avoidance by June 30, 2008. Building on the E&E initiative and scheduled to begin this fall, the statewide redesign program will invite all campuses to conduct a large scale course redesign to improve student learning while reducing instructional costs. USM will provide financial support for NCAT's services and will also partner with each campus to provide financial support for particular projects. NCAT will offer two systemwide workshops and provide ongoing consultation and assistance as teams plan their redesigns, develop and adapt learning materials, implement their pilots, modify their redesigns as needed and fully implement their plans. For more information about this initiative, contact Nancy Shapiro at email@example.com or Don Spicer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In our efforts to enlist state and system leaders in developing local programs in course redesign, NCAT has begun an important collaboration with The National Association of System Heads (NASH) and the Education Trust (Ed Trust). NASH is a membership organization of Chief Executive Officers of the 52 public higher education systems in 38 states and Puerto Rico. Established in 1990 by the American Association for Higher Education as a special project to encourage colleges and universities to support K-12 reform efforts, the Ed Trust works for the high academic achievement of all students at all levels, pre-kindergarten through college, and forever closing the achievement gaps that separate low-income students and students of color from other youth. NASH and the Ed Trust have put together a network of state university system and state K-12 leaders who are implementing statewide K-16 improvement strategies in their states.
On March 13, 2006, NCAT sponsored a visit to the University of Alabama (UA) for several members of NASH (including Tom Meredith, Commissioner, Institutions of Higher Learning in Mississippi and NASH president) and the Ed Trust. Participants learned first-hand about the highly successful mathematics redesign at the UA and visited the Math Technology Learning Center. With outstanding learning results as well as significant costs savings, UA provides a good example of course redesign that can be scaled to system or state initiatives. NASH and the Ed Trust are interested in learning about a more systematic approach to assisting colleges and universities improve student success while controlling costs. While the motivating issues may vary slightly in each state or system, the overwhelming concern is increasing the success of enrolled students.
On June 29-30, 2006, the Ed Trust and NASH hosted a meeting in Chicago of 12 leaders of state higher education systems (Alabama, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, New York and Texas) and six K-12 chiefs (Connecticut, Kentucky, Minnesota, Ohio, New Mexico and New York.) Among the topics participants discussed were the high drop-failure-withdrawal rates in introductory courses--especially in mathematics--both nationally and in each of their systems. Carol Twigg presented the results of the highly successful course redesigns at institutions that have participated in NCAT programs and discussed ways in which the participants’ systems could initiate a similar process in partnership with NCAT. The group also discussed the applicability of NCAT’s redesign methodology to K-12. Individual system heads indicated their interest in pursuing state- and system-based programs in partnership with NCAT. An additional next step was the formation of a task force to think more concretely about how course redesign can be applied in the K-12 sector. To learn more about NASH, see http://www.nashonline.org/. To learn more about the Education Trust, see http://www2.edtrust.org/edtrust.
For state and systems with an interest in sponsoring a local course redesign program, the first step is often to invite Carol Twigg to meet with board members and campus leaders. On June 15, 2006, Carol visited the Indiana Commission for Higher Education to discuss how NCAT’s redesign methodology can benefit students in Indiana. The commission convened a gathering of faculty and administrators from across the state to learn more about NCAT’s programs and to discuss the feasibility of establishing a state-based course redesign program. Participants expressed strong support for the idea. On July 19th, Carol traveled to Mississippi to give a presentation to the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) on ways colleges and universities across the nation are improving learning while reducing costs through course redesign. Carol also discussed these ideas in a follow-up meeting with a number of provosts and deans from the eight universities that comprise the system. In addition to the redesign of World Literature by the University of Southern Mississippi , both Ole Miss and Mississippi State have successfully initiated redesigns of introductory math courses using the Emporium Model (more about these in our next newsletter.) As in Indiana, participants expressed strong support for establishing a local course redesign program in Mississippi. Both states are now considering next steps to leverage what has been accomplished nationally in their own states.
Featuring progress reports and outcomes achieved by the Roadmap to Redesign
Our FIPSE-funded project, the Roadmap to Redesign, will come to a close on September 1, 2006 . On June 22, representatives of the participating institutions met in Baltimore, MD to report on how well they achieved their goals of improving student learning, increasing retention and reducing instructional cost. The full final reports will be available later this summer on the NCAT web site. A summary of the outcomes achieved and the lessons learned will be included in the October 2006 and January 2007 issues of this newsletter. Until then, here’s a preview:
Project descriptions and progress reports for all R2R projects are available on the NCAT web site at http://www.thencat.org/R2R/R2R_ProjDiscipline.htm.
Linking content and software providers with leading edge institutions
Twenty-five mathematics professors from twelve states met on June 30, 2006 in Baltimore , MD for Houghton Mifflin’s first sponsored course redesign seminar. During the morning session, NCAT’s Carolyn Jarmon presented the results of the various NCAT-sponsored course redesigns and discussed the benefits of course redesign. Participants then worked on case studies that presented various kinds of academic problems and offered possible solutions. During afternoon sessions, Jennifer Bubriski, Product Manager for Digital Publishing, and Mike Hamm, TeamUP Consultant, described the various technology and training resources available to educators who wish to use Houghton Mifflin content for course redesign. The response from those who attended was extremely positive, and the majority expressed an interest in further exploring the possibility of course redesign in their mathematics departments. For more information about Houghton Mifflin content and services for course redesign, contact Debby Seme, Manager of Strategic Initiatives, at Deborah_Seme@hmco.com.
Pearson Education and NCAT will co-sponsor a workshop on October 20 and 21, 2006 in San Diego , CA highlighting successful course redesigns that use technology to improve student learning. The workshop will feature NCAT’s research-based course redesign methodology developed in partnership with more than 50 diverse two- and four-year institutions. Participants will hear from faculty members who have implemented course redesigns to achieve measurable and significant gains in student success. They will learn how to implement course redesign principles in English, mathematics, and Spanish. Faculty will also have the opportunity to learn more about Pearson's leading technology products. To learn more, see www.pearsoncourseredesign.com or contact Joanne Foster at email@example.com.
Reporting on initiatives that share the Center's goals and objectives
Science education in the U.S. faces two serious problems. The first is that too few Americans perform at the highest level in science compared with our competitors abroad. The second is that large numbers of aspiring science majors, perhaps as many as half, are turned off by unimaginative teaching and migrate to other disciplines before graduating. In contrast, the University of Maryland-–Baltimore County (UM-BC) has a well established, highly successful program that seeks out and fosters student success in science. As reported in the May 25, 2006 New York Times, the Meyerhoff Program at UM-BC focuses on highly able African-American students who seek to become leading research scientists and engineers. The Meyerhoff Program’s success is built on the premise that, among like-minded students who work closely together, positive energy is contagious. By assembling such a high concentration of high-achieving minority students in a tightly knit learning community, students continually inspire one another to do more and better. Learning environments encourage active participation in labs, engage students in real research and involve students in team-based problem solving. The results have been outstanding and provide a model for other institutions seeking to increase student participation in scientific fields. To learn more, see http://www.umbc.edu/meyerhoff/index.html.
Lumina Foundation for Education recently announced the second phase of its College Costs: Making Opportunity Affordable Initiative. Lumina will allocate $25.5 million over the next five years toward a three-pronged initiative to lower the cost of college. The initiative will support promising efforts leading to increased affordability and access in key states, continue building and sharing a portfolio of effective high quality approaches, and mount a public education effort to build the will for reforms that lower the cost of college for future students. According to President and CEO Martha Lamkin, the Foundation has identified three primary objectives: 1) to increase the productivity of higher education by lowering costs while raising quality; 2) to reduce the time it takes to earn a certificate or degree; and 3) to increase access and success among low-income students, first-generation students, adult learners and students of color. Lumina Foundation for Education is a private, independent foundation that strives to help people achieve their potential by expanding access and success in education beyond high school. To learn more and track the initiative’s next steps, see www.luminafoundation.org.
While many students are excited and highly motivated in the first week or two of their freshman year, the need for them to continue to manage their time well and stay focused on their academic work presents a significant challenge for many. Founded in 1999, InsideTrack provides ongoing, weekly coaching for students. Inspired by the executive/personal coaching movement, InsideTrack’s coaching services address the many issues that can affect a college student’s ability to meet academic and personal goals. Coaches provide the regular structure, support and positive feedback that students need to thrive. They do not offer academic assistance but rather help with managing a student’s learning experience. InsideTrack is prepared to work with students from the time they first inquire about a college throughout their entire experience at that institution. Coaches individualize the coaching sessions to focus on areas that students find helpful such as managing time and competing commitments, dealing with finances and setting priorities. Using InsideTrack’s coaching services has been shown to increase retention and student success. In 13 controlled studies, the first-term attrition of coached students decreased by more than 35%. In addition, coached students performed at higher levels in the classroom and were more engaged in their college experience. To learn more about InsideTrack, contact Bob Carlton at firstname.lastname@example.org or see www.insidetrack.com.
A partnership between Noel-Levitz and Enablearning is addressing the twin problems of high drop-out rates and low student success (failing the course) in one of the most critical areas of need today: developmental mathematics. These two firms recommend many of the same strategies as those that have been successful in NCAT programs. Their mastery-based homework software (EnableMath)—which is not tied to a particular text—promotes practice (time on task) and provides the tracking and monitoring features that NCAT has found to be crucial. Other tools such as the College Student Inventory and Retention Opportunity Analysis are used to develop early alert intervention strategies that lead to increased student participation and success. The firms have found a correlation in the .5 - .7 range between doing homework and students’ course grades. To learn more, contact Dan Klassen at Dan-Klassen@noellevitz.com or see http://www.enablearning.com.
The National Center for Academic Transformation serves as a source of expertise and support for those in higher education who wish to take advantage of the capabilities of information technology to transform their academic practices.
Copyright 2006, The National Center for Academic Transformation