Web site lets New York City parents track data on students

After several months of delays, a web site that offers an interactive portfolio of New York City public school students’ test scores, grades, and attendance rates will be available for all parents by the end of June, reports the New York Times. Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein called the web site, known as Parent Link, a "powerful tool" that would allow parents to work more closely with teachers to help their children. On the site, parents will be able to view overall course grades and scores on state tests, but not individual scores on class assignments. They’ll also be able to see attendance histories and look at the probability of a student passing state math and English exams, based on how they have scored on periodic city tests. The web site also will show how their child is doing compared with children at schools serving similar student populations. The Parent Link site, which is available in nine languages, is part of an $80 million data and information initiative developed by IBM, known as the Achievement Reporting and Innovation System, or ARIS, which has been slow to take off. Some principals grew so frustrated with its quirks last fall that they improvised their own data management systems. Since then, the city’s Department of Education has improved the system, and it is now easy to use, said Chiara Coletti, a spokeswoman for the principals’ union…

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‘DTXTR’ translates teen text into English

Wot r ur students txting? If you’re wondering — or 1dering — there’s a new online translation tool that helps decipher the code, AFP reports. Mobile phone maker LG Electronics MobileComm USA has launched "DTXTR" (www.lgdtxtr.com), a web service that translates teen text speech into plain English. Plug in text shortcuts such as OMG! or 2G2BT and get back the translation — in this case "Oh my God!" and "too good to be true." DTXTR includes a glossary of hundreds of definitions for shorthand text phrases, abbreviations, and symbols. It also includes text tips for adults to help them "stay ahead of the curve."

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Senate bill supports 21st-century skills

States offering students curriculum options that integrate key 21st-century skills would receive matching federal funds through an incentive bill introduced in the U.S. Senate May 13 by West Virginia Democrat John D. Rockefeller IV.

The legislation was developed using ideas generated from West Virginia educators and the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, which researched and surveyed the skills students need in the classroom to remain competitive for the future, according to a press release from Rockefeller’s office.

"The knowledge base and skills set that most students learn in school should expand to provide students with the skills, like critical thinking and problem solving, needed to succeed in modern workplaces and communities," Rockefeller said when he introduced the bill.

"The purpose of the 21st Skills Incentive Funds Act is to offer competitive grants from the Department of Education for states willing to invest in education reform. … Although the economic downturn has current challenges for new investment in education, waiting for a better time to engage in reform would be unwise," he added.

Shelley Pasnik, director of the Education Development Center’s Center for Children and Technology, said she is pleased to see the bill addresses more than simply putting more technology into schools.

"The legislation goes beyond technology. It’s about implementing a framework for 21st-century learning," she said. "It’s more promising this way. If it were just about technology purchases, it would be a missed opportunity."

The bill, which is co-sponsored by Sens. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, and John Kerry, D-Mass., suggests several areas where states could expand their curricula to encompass 21st-century skills, such as global awareness; financial, economic, business, and entrepreneurial literacy; civic literacy; and health and wellness awareness.

"Students need to go beyond just learning today’s academic context to develop critical thinking and problem solving skills, communications skills, creativity and innovation skills, collaboration skills, contextual learning skills, and information and media literacy skills," the bill reads.

If passed, the bill would appropriate $100 million a year for the U.S. Department of Education to pass on to states that have developed a comprehensive plan for implementing a statewide 21st-century skills initiative and are able to supply matching funds for their initiative.

Since the Partnership for 21st Century Skills was founded in 2002, ten states have voluntarily adopted the more comprehensive set of skills and standards that the group says are needed for students to remain competitive in the classroom—and beyond.

"There is no doubt that successful states have an informed, innovative, and civically engaged citizenry," said Paige Kuni and Ken Kay, chair and president of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, in a statement. "In fact, to sustain a viable economy in today’s world requires workers with 21st-century skills, as almost all emerging industries are built upon knowledge, creativity, communication, and problem solving."

Pasnik said she sees passage of the bill as an opportunity for the states that already have implemented a 21st-century skills initiative—Arizona, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and West Virginia—to receive financial help.

"The states that have been working with the Partnership have really been doing so on their own volition," she said.

The bill, S.1029, was in the Senate Committee on Finance at press time.

Links:

Senate Bill 1029

Partnership for 21st Century Skills

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Web site caters to student, faculty travelers

Caitlin Richelson was looking to save on a plane ticket to Puerto Rico for spring break. Richelson, a senior at Leslie University in Massachusetts, perused a handful of travel web sites and found StudentUniverse.com, which verified her student status and saved her $40 on a $300 roundtrip ticket.

"Most students spend a lot of time looking around [on the internet] for a deal, but [StudentUniverse] is definitely one you have to look at," said Richelson, 21. "It’s important to students to find some kind of deal … so it’s worth it to look around this site."

StudentUniverse, a Massachusetts-based site launched in 2000, offers deals on airfare and vacation packages for college students and faculty members. The web site verifies that users are, in fact, students or professors–using a college-based eMail address–and offers access to travel prices StudentUniverse officials have negotiated with major airlines.

Atle Skalleberg, head of research and marketing for StudentUniverse, said the site has drawn more students and faculty members in the past year, as personal and school budgets have tightened in a slumping economy.

StudentUniverse is not only designed for students booking their spring break or summer getaway trips, but also the many back-and-forth trips students make every year to visit family for holidays, birthdays, and other events, Skalleberg said. It also could save schools money on faculty trips to conferences and speaking appearances.

"It is a solid resource for them to save some money," he said, adding that the average student saves 14 percent on airfare. "We’re not pretending to always be cheaper, but we’re a resource people should be aware of."

A 2007 survey underwritten by StudentUniverse showed that, although student spending on travel eclipses $20 billion every year, the costs are usually an "unplanned expense," meaning airfare, gas money, and bus tickets are not taken into account. The study surveyed 896 students on campuses across the country and found the average student spends $1,200 on travel annually.

Fifty-six percent of college students surveyed said their travel costs were for traveling from home to school and back, 47 percent said spring break, and 40 percent said travel costs included trips during Thanksgiving break.

"With that much travel, the costs can quickly add up," said Anand Rajaratnam, head of research and marketing for StudentUniverse.

More than half of students in the survey–57 percent–said they paid travel expenses without assistance from their parents. Fifteen percent of students said they had studied abroad, and 25 percent of respondents said they would travel more if they had more money for travel expenses.

StudentUniverse officials said the service differs from other travel sites offering special deals for college students, because a user must prove he or she is a current student. Deals on most other sites are available to anyone with an internet connection.

"Other companies jump on that wagon," Skalleberg said, "but a lot of students see through it."

StudentUniverse announced this month that students and faculty will have a new search option this summer with the launch of FarePlay, which allows visitors to scan discounted airfares according to the kind of trip they’re planning for. For instance, if a student or professor wants to search for plane tickets to the most popular European destinations, FarePlay filters those options. Other FarePlay searches include cheap destinations, popular Asian cities, backpacking, and study abroad.

"Where most other travel sites assume that people know exactly where they want to travel, we realize that students know what they want to do but do not necessarily know where to find it," Skalleberg said.

Link:

StudentUniverse

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Gates Foundation: Teachers trump class size

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation spent billions of dollars exploring the idea that smaller high schools might result in higher graduation rates and better test scores. Instead, it found the key to better education is not necessarily smaller schools but more effective teachers.

Some people might cringe while recounting how much money the foundation spent figuring this out. But the foundation’s new CEO, Jeff Raikes, smiles and uses it as an example to explain that the world’s wealthiest charity has the money to try things that might fail.

"Almost by definition, good philanthropy means we’re going to have to do some risky things, some speculative things to try and see what works and what doesn’t," Raikes said May 27 during an interview with the Associated Press.

The foundation’s new "learner-in-chief" has spent the nine months since he was named CEO studying the operation, traveling around the world, and figuring out how to balance the pressures of the economic downturn with the growing needs of people in developing nations.

The former Microsoft Corp. executive, who turns 51 May 29, joined the foundation as its latest CEO after Patty Stonesifer, another former Microsoft executive, announced her retirement and his friends Bill and Melinda Gates talked Raikes out of retiring.

In the past decade, the foundation reportedly has given away nearly $20 billion, mostly in global health, global development, and U.S. education.

It has been ramping up its giving since Warren Buffett, head of Omaha, Neb.-based Berkshire Hathaway, announced in June 2006 that he would make annual donations of about $1.5 billion to the foundation, with the money to be distributed in the year it is donated.

Raikes is also from Nebraska, where he grew up on a family farm near Omaha. He and his wife, Tricia, formed the Raikes Foundation in 2002 to support youth development, education, and community issues in the Seattle area.

He hasn’t lost his easygoing manner, it is reported, during his transformation from business leader to nonprofit CEO.

One of the things he’s learned, he said, is the foundation must take a different direction with its education grants, and the best path is to support good, effective teachers.

Between 2000 and 2008, the foundation spent about $2 billion trying to improve America’s high schools and another $2 billion for scholarships, primarily for low-income and minority students.

It saw graduation rates go up in many foundation-supported schools. But it didn’t see significant improvements in student achievement or in the number of students who left high school ready to enroll in college.

Raikes said the responsibility for social innovation often falls on nonprofit organizations, because the private sector doesn’t see the profit margin in it and most citizens don’t want the government speculating with their tax dollars.

The foundation plans to continue to experiment with its education policy.

"We’re going to try some things, and I’m quite confident that some things will succeed and I’m quite confident that some things will fail," Raikes said.

He said half of the more than 1 million students who drop out of school in the United States each year are from just 100 school districts.

What can make a difference for those kids? Raikes wants to find out.

The foundation also is investing money to improve data collection in public schools–in part, to better find out what works–and to help community colleges improve graduation rates.

Raikes talked of a study of the Los Angeles Unified School District after an initiative to reduce class sizes led to a liberalization of rules on who could be hired to teach.

He said the district found that whether a teacher had a certificate had no effect on student achievement.

Raikes said the district found that putting a great teacher in a low-income school helped students advance a grade and a half in one year. An ineffective teacher in a high-income school held student achievement to about half a grade of progress in a year.

"We really have to focus classroom by classroom," said Jim Morris, chief of staff at the L.A. district. "Every teacher matters, just like every student matters."

Morris said the most important factor to successful schools is excellent teachers and supporting what they do in the classroom.

The Harvard researcher who studied the Los Angeles district, Thomas J. Kane, now works for the Gates Foundation as deputy director of education for data and research.

Links:

Gates Foundation

L.A. Unified School District

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Kansas school stirs debate over outsourced classes

The question is no longer just academic at Fort Hays State University in Kansas. Under a novel arrangement, the school will accept credits from a private company that runs introductory online courses in subjects like economics and English composition–listing them on transcripts under the Fort Hays State name.

To some on campus, that sounds like a restaurant ordering takeout from a rival and serving it up as home cooking.

"It could really damage our academic reputation," said Topher Rome, a graduate student who helped start a Facebook group with 147 members opposing the arrangement.

But the public university notes the arrangement isn’t for current students there–it’s mostly a recruiting tool. Fort Hays State hopes to drum up business amid declining state funding and a dwindling local population, encouraging those who sign up for the online courses to continue their education through the university.

It’s the latest chapter in an evolving debate about the place of innovation in higher education. Is outsourcing teaching–especially for huge and often poorly-run introductory courses–a way for colleges to catch up with other industries and rein in out-of-control costs? Or does it mean gutting what makes universities special?

Versions of that debate are popping up on more and more campuses. University of Toledo faculty have protested negotiations between the university and a company called Higher Ed Holdings, which had proposed helping deliver master’s degree programs in exchange for a share of tuition revenue. The company works with a handful of other universities, including Arkansas State, where some faculty members have protested.

But Higher Ed Holdings claims it merely helps deliver the courses, and university faculty are still in charge.

The company working with Fort Hays State, StraighterLine, runs its own courses, which are designed by experts but aren’t led by a professor. Nonetheless, the credits earned would be indistinguishable from those taught by professors at Fort Hays State.

Given how many students fall through the cracks of giant general-education courses, StraighterLine founder Burck Smith says for-profit alternatives deserve a chance to prove themselves.

In his courses, students work at their own pace, following online lessons developed in conjunction with education publisher McGraw-Hill, reading assignments, and taking exams. Students can access up to 10 hours of individual, online tutoring–in some cases 24 hours a day. The model, Smith says, reduces the inefficiency of a class where everyone moves at a different pace.

The company–an offshoot of an online tutoring company called SmartThinking that Smith also founded–lets students purchase a single course for $399 (they have six months to complete it). Alternatively, they can pay $99 per month and take as many courses as they can finish in the required sequence.

Four other nontraditional or for-profit institutions have similar partnerships with StraighterLine, but Fort Hays State is the only traditional university so far. Students can try to persuade other institutions to take the credits, but there’s no guarantee.

Barbara Solvig, a 50-year-old Chicago mother of three who resolved to get a college degree after she was recently laid off, wanted an online degree because she didn’t think she could be in a classroom with kids. But she was floored by the cost of other options.

"Honestly, I could have gone to Northwestern for what they were charging," she said.

Solvig finished StraighterLine courses in composition, accounting, algebra, and macroeconomics, and she said the work was tough. With other credits collected elsewhere, she’s about 20 credits short of a degree at Charter Oak State College, a nonprofit college specializing in alternative and online learning that also accepts StraighterLine courses.

Fort Hays’ financial goal is recruiting more students. State funding covers about half the portion of the budget it once did, Provost Larry Gould said, and the area’s population has been declining for more than a century. It’s responded with a huge online program that enrolls more students off-campus (6,800) than there are on-campus (4,500).

"Our first job is to provide education services to the citizens of western Kansas," Gould said, but the university can’t do that without generating new revenues.

So far, Fort Hays has credentialed coursework for about 64 StraighterLine students since the agreement with the school in May 2008, but so far none have formally transferred into the university.

Gould acknowledged some faculty are worried, but he said they shouldn’t be. Once students transfer into Fort Hays State, all courses would be taught by university faculty; if more transfer in, there’s more work. He also said the university knows more about StraighterLine’s courses than other forms of outsourced credit, such as community colleges, for-profit universities, and Advanced Placement exams.

"Yes, there is concern," said Ron Sandstrom, chair of the department of math and computer science. "We’re interested about the jobs, but we’re really interested in the quality."

Academic departments have been able to review the courses before approval. Sandstrom says if he concludes the courses are strong, he won’t object.

Universities like Fort Hays State have broad leeway to accept whatever credits they choose. But Rome, the graduate student, compares StraighterLine’s arrangement with Fort Hays State to "money-laundering but with credit"–essentially borrowing the university’s own accreditation to give its courses legitimacy.

The federally designated accrediting agencies give their seals of approval to institutions, not courses, so StraighterLine, which has just 10 courses, isn’t eligible, though it says one accrediting agency has said its courses meet standards.

For some education reformers, the experiment at Fort Hays State is an example of how universities can move beyond one-size-fits-all economic models and streamline their introductory courses.

"There is simply not enough money to sustain higher education in its current format," said Carol Twigg, president and CEO of the National Center for Academic Transformation, which works with universities to redesign their own introductory courses. "There will always be a Harvard and people willing to pay … whatever it’s going to cost for four years, but for all other students we really need alternative models."

Links:

StraighterLine

Fort Hayes State University

National Center for Academic Transformation

Note to readers:

Don’t forget to visit the Empowering Education Through Technology resource center. Integrating technology into the classroom can be a challenge without the right guidance. Go to: Empowering Education Through Technology

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Apple goes green, launches free recycling

K-12 schools and higher-education institutions can recycle their used computers and peripherals from any manufacturer free of charge, under a new limited-time offer from Apple Inc.

All accredited K-12 schools, colleges, and universities with at least 25 pieces of recyclable equipment (limited to computers, printers, and displays) are eligible to participate, and there is no purchase required, Apple says.

In addition to the minimum 25 pieces, Apple also accepts all brands of the following electronic equipment: computers, monitors, laptops, printers, fax machines, scanners, desktop-size copy machines, CD drives, hard drives, TVs, VCRs, projectors, overhead projectors, networking equipment, cables, keyboards, and mice.

The program is available until July 31–meaning schools must register by this date–and extends to PCs as well, not just Macintosh devices.

According to the instructions, schools are responsible for shrink-wrapping and placing all equipment on a pallet. The web site for Apple’s free recycling program also lists places where schools can find pallets and shrink wrap.

After all the items are prepared, Apple will come to the school or college to pick up the unwanted materials.

Apple says it pays close attention to data security: All recycled hard drives are ground into confetti-size pieces, customers receive a certificate of destruction for each lot recycled through the program, all asset tags and other identifying information are removed prior to destruction, and all of the electronic waste collected through the program is processed domestically in the United States.

Apple’s offer comes at a good time for schools, which often struggle to get rid of used equipment. With technology becoming more prevalent in schools and concerns rising about the environment, recycling unwanted devices can be a costly process.

"I applaud Apple for making this opportunity available to [schools]," said Jim Hirsch, associate superintendent for technology at the Plano Independent School District in Texas. "While many districts already have recycling programs in place, this provides another avenue for districts to use that perhaps haven’t used recycling services before."

He added, "Having this program available yearly or on some regular basis would be helpful in planning for those districts that will make use of this. I’m not aware of other programs similar to this one."

Marc Liebman, superintendent of the Berryessa Union School District in San Jose, Calif., said his district already has a recycling program in place through a city-sponsored company, ASL Recycling/The Greenetwork Inc.–but he believes Apple’s program "does more to destroy the hardware, which I am not sure is done by our vendor."

The only reason Liebman said he wouldn’t take advantage of Apple’s limited-time offer is because his city’s recycling program is actually a fundraiser: The recycler pays his district by weight for what it collects.

Bob Moore, executive director of IT services for the Blue Valley Union School District in Kansas, said that for some districts, making a profit might be more important in today’s economy.

"While the restrictions seem reasonable, if a district is going to go to all the trouble, why not just sell [its] old equipment?" he asked. "We have found that there is a market for just about everything, although it has gone a bit soft in the down economy."

Links:

Apple Inc.

Free computer recycling from Apple

ASL Recycling

Note to readers:

Don’t forget to visit the GIS and Geographic Inquiry resource center. "Geospatial" technologies–which include geographic information systems (GIS), global positioning systems (GPS), and remote sensing (RS) tools–are keeping drivers on track. Now, similar technologies in schools let you chart a course to the future of learning. Go to: GIS and Geographic Inquiry

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Tennessee passes cyber-bullying legislation

Tennessee legislation aimed at preventing cyber bullying is headed to Gov. Phil Bredesen, who is expected to allow it to become law, reports the Commercial Appeal. The bill was originally aimed at preventing internet bullying of minors, but lawmakers removed its 18-year-old age limit so that it also applies to adult victims of malicious electronic communications. It is partly a response to the 2006 suicide of a 14-year-old girl in Missouri after a former friend’s mother created a fake profile of a fictional teen boy on a social networking web site and used it to post humiliating untruths about her. The bill broadens the existing harassment law to include sending electronic communications to another person without legitimate purpose and with "malicious intent to frighten, intimidate, or cause emotional distress." An offense is a Class A misdemeanor under the Tennessee criminal code, punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500…

Click here for the full story

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Study: Virtual schools can help cut costs

New research suggests that more K-12 public school students will take classes online and will have longer school days in the next decade–and academic improvement and cost savings are two big benefits.

Online courses are already commonplace in higher education and are growing in popularity at the K-12 level as well. Orlando-based Florida Virtual School (FLVS) has quickly become the nation’s largest virtual school, serving nearly 65,000 students in the 2007-08 school year.

"Policy makers and educators have proposed expanding learning time in elementary through high school grades as a way to improve students’ academic performance, but online coursework hasn’t been on their radar," said Catherine Cavanaugh, associate professor at the University of Florida’s College of Education and author of the report, "Getting Students More Learning Time Online: Distance Education in Support of Expanded Learning Time in K-12 Schools."

Cavanaugh’s report found that the average yearly cost of online learning for a full-time student was about $4,300 in 2008, based on a survey of 20 virtual schools in 14 states.  The national average cost per student in a traditional public school in 2006, the most recent year in which data were available, was more than $9,100. Cost estimates included course development, teaching, and administrative and technical expenses.

"Online programs have little or no cost for instructional facilities, transportation, and related staff," Cavanaugh said. "The value of distance education also increases when considering the broad range of available online courses."

And while virtual schools will still have technology and instructional costs, "we do think it is more cost-effective–you don’t have to worry about buildings for the kids, transportation, food, so you don’t have all of those overhead costs," said Holly Sagues, chief strategist for FLVS.

"Over the next decade, we expect an explosion in the use of virtual schooling as a seamless synthesis between the traditional classroom and online learning," Cavanaugh said.

The report states that the number of K-12 students taking online courses increased from about 200,000 in 2001 to almost 2 million in 2007, and it suggests the number could easily reach several million by 2012.  

"We fully support that trend, and we see it here–we grow from 25 to 40 percent each year and usually have a waiting list for students to get into our courses," said Sagues.

Sagues cautioned that online schools are not a one-size-fits-all solution.

"Students are all different and they all have different learning styles, so for some students full online learning works great, others may be more successful in a blended model, and some might be most successful in a traditional school building," she said.

The number of teachers applying to teach in virtual education programs is increasing along with the number of students enrolling in them. Universities and teacher colleges have started to include online teaching components in their teacher-education programs.

The report highlights states such as Georgia and Wisconsin, which have added online teaching requirements to their teacher certifications.

Cavanaugh suggested that investing in virtual education could give students access to classes before and after the regular school day, and also during the day–essentially lengthening the school day without requiring money for new buildings, additional staff, professional development, and operating costs.

And while students might not welcome longer school days or school years with open arms, President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan have mentioned both as possible ways to keep U.S. students competitive with their peers in foreign nations.

"Even a few days’ difference in learning time can determine whether a school makes adequate yearly progress," Cavanaugh said.

Cavanaugh described a school day that begins early and ends late, with students attending traditional classes on designated weekdays and attending online classes in a computer lab setting on other days.

A longer school day allows for sports, recreation, clubs, and enrichment activities, and students might use internet-capable phones and mobile devices, such as netbooks, to access online courses and assignments while on the school bus and on long field trips, she said.

The emergence and staying power of virtual schools has prompted researchers to examine not whether online education is effective, but rather, in what situations and under what circumstances it is most effective.

"Virtual schooling and online learning fit in extremely well with the emerging trend to embrace the same technologies that our young people are using in their everyday lives and apply them in education," Cavanaugh said. "Schools that don’t embrace online learning soon will be viewed as limiting the learning opportunities of their students."

Links:

Getting Students More Learning Time Online: Distance Education in Support of Expanded Learning Time in K-12 Schools

Florida Virtual School

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Bonuses for struggling venture rile some

Ten employees of the University of Illinois’s Global Campus were rewarded with performance bonuses while the online program struggled to attract and maintain students, according to reports that followed a May 21 announcement that the program would be reorganized and operate on a smaller budget.

University trustees voted May 21 to decentralize the Global Campus initiative, giving more power to the system’s three campuses and trimming the annual budget from about $9 million to $1.75 million, according to a report detailing Global Campus changes released by a group of eight university officials.

The Global Campus currently has about 400 students–thousands less than once expected–and has struggled to gain traction since its launch during the 2007-08 academic year. Empowering each Illinois campus to manage its own distance-education program could attract 5,000 new students and start 15 new programs within five years, according to the restructuring report, which stressed that the nation’s economic downturn would not longer support "duplication of … offices and services" that could be construed as an "unnecessary luxury."

"Resources are scarce, and greater consolidation and efficiencies within the university need to be explored," the report said. "…We need to pursue a thinned-down, more flexible and efficient structure, drawing from an enhancing existing resources and efforts rather than trying to remake them in a new guise."

The university paid out more than $120,000 in bonuses for Global Campus employees, according to a May 22 report in the Chicago Tribune. University President Joseph White told the Tribune that the employees earned the bonus payments, but a source close to the university’s Global Campus restructuring told eCampus News that college officials were "shocked" by the revelations.

"Bonuses are most rare at public universities," said the source, who spoke anonymously because of the sensitivity of bonuses for the struggling online program. "We have annual raises, equity raises, et cetera, but not bonuses. A successful employee is rewarded by praise or successfully completing the process for a promotion. So, it is shocking to faculty and staff members that bonuses–especially of this magnitude–were doled out at the University of Illinois."

Tom Hardy, a spokesman for the university, said in an interview with eCampus News that the bonus payments were built into the fiscal 2008 budget to provide incentive for employees to ensure a successful launch for Global Campus.

"It was the plan to provide these performance incentive payments based on work that had to be done to get Global Campus up and running," Hardy said, adding that the bonuses averaged $8,000 per employee and were a one-time incentive. "The reason for the program was to inspire some entrepreneurial, personal, and professional investment on the part of the team there."

Since Global Campus enrollment stagnated last year, Illinois decision makers eliminated the bonus program, he said.

"While many other things were working well for Global Campus, the pipeline of products in terms of course work was not filling up as robustly as had been anticipated," Hardy said. "When there was disappointing enrollment, it makes it hard to provide incentive payments."

Ray Schroeder, director of the University of Illinois Springfield’s Office of Technology-Enhanced Learning, said the Global Campus 2.0 effort would incorporate the expertise of online-learning authorities across the university system.

"People with experience were not very involved with the [original] Global Campus," Schroeder said, adding that officials will focus on attracting community college students to the revamped distance-education courses.

Current Global Campus students, Schroeder said, will not see their academic schedules or coursework affected by officials’ decision to redo the online initiative.

"It should be seamless for the students who are enrolled in the Global Campus," he said.

Global Campus 2.0 is expected to begin in January, officials said. The report outlines strategies for bolstering enrollment over the next five years, including the start of online degree programs in environmental science, criminology, and psychology.

The current Global Campus offers two undergraduate degrees–in business administration and nursing–and four master’s degree options. The university has eight separate undergraduate and 30 master’s degrees that can be earned online.

Schroeder said more details of the new Global Campus will emerge after the July 22-23 Board of Trustees meetings, where chancellors from all three Illinois campuses will submit plans for how and when to expand online degree options.

Material from the Associate Press was used in this report.

Links:

Global Campus 2.0 report

University of Illinois Global Campus

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