Wednesday, October 24, 2012

U.W. Will Work With Coursera

Grantees Focused on Breakthrough Models for College Completion are developing new models for online and blended programs that significantly improve postsecondary access, persistence, completion, and affordability, without compromising the quality of learning outcomes. Applicants were eligible for awards up to $1 million.

 University of Washington (Seattle, WA; $884,000): UW will provide a transformational online undergraduate degree-completion program at a lower cost for Americans who have earned some college credits and want to complete a baccalaureate degree, initially in humanities and social sciences, but need an online format due to other life commitments. The UW will use MOOCs to deliver the courses.

Program Name: University of Washington Online Undergraduate Degree Completion Program
Targeted Degree Program: Interdisciplinary bachelor’s degree
Opening Date: Fall 2013
First-Year Enrollment: 1,000
Anticipated Students Served in First Five Years: 13,488
Tuition Model: Credit hours at reduced rate of $155/credit for this program
Geographies Served: US students, with primary emphasis on the state of Washington
Targeted Students: Working young adults with some college credits who are returning to school

Like other traditional research universities, the University of Washington has historically served first-time full-time undergraduates and graduate students as core constituencies. In this Next Generation Learning Challenges program, they are breaking out of that mold to offer an opportunity to working adults with some college credit who need an undergraduate degree to advance their careers. Their numbers are substantial: nearly six million people in the western states have at least one year of college but lack a degree, and many of them also lack the resources to pay tuition at the usual rates, the time to travel to campus to attend classes, or both.

UW’s program is being designed expressly to serve the needs of this target population. The specific degrees offered are being selected based on those likely to have the greatest economic impact. The degrees will be offered at a reduced cost - approximately half the per-credit-hour cost of most competitive programs - with free versions of the courses offered on Coursera, a commercial platform on which universities offer massive open online courses (MOOCs) that are available to anyone worldwide. The course will expand access to resources and learning and will also give students the opportunity to sample a course before enrolling. The credit-bearing versions of the courses, offered in Moodle, will be instructor-led and will have additional assignments, projects, papers and readings which will augment the materials on Coursera.

Since the program targets students who have some college credit already, it will focus on upper-level courses. Fulltime faculty will design and teach these courses, ensuring their depth and quality. The courses will be designed around learning outcomes, and these outcomes will be described at the beginning of each lesson to inform students explicitly of the required concepts to master and skills to develop.

Faculty who teach in the program will receive comprehensive training in online instruction to ensure their thorough familiarity with those practices which encourage retention and course completion. In addition, specialized online advisors/coaches will work with students, checking in with them at least every other week in regard to their progress in current courses and suggesting strategies for completion. Struggling students will receive particular attention.

Application Deck: This video offers a snapshot of this grantee’s breakthrough model in its early planning stages outlining the goals, learning environments, and business model. It was originally created as a narrated PowerPoint deck included in their application to the NGLC Breakthrough Models grant competition.

Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC) accelerates educational innovation through applied technology to dramatically improve college readiness and completion in the United States. This multi-year program provides investment capital to expand the use of proven and emerging learning technologies, collects and shares evidence of what works, and fosters innovation and adoption of solutions which will dramatically improve the quality of learning in the United States, particularly for low-income students and students of color. NGLC is managed by EDUCAUSE in partnership with the League for Innovation in the Community College, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and the International Association for K-12 Online Learning. Funding for Wave III was provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. (

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