Innovate to Educate Entry
Bossier Parish Community College
Allison Martin, Mobilizing MOOCs for Millenials: Open Campus at Bossier Parish Community College
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|BPCC's Open Campus: Mobilizing MOOCs for Millennials|
What innovative technology initiative or project are you most proud of, and how has it improved teaching and learning in your school/district?Bossier Parish Community College (BPCC) created a series of free, open source developmental courses targeting both underprepared students prepping for placement testing as well as those enrolled in credit-bearing coursework. BPCC’s concept “Open Campus” was founded upon the premise reflected in multiple studies which suggest that high-need students struggle in purely online courses, yet students are motivated to persist when technology is a function of how they engage outside the formal classroom (Nihalani & Mayrath, 2010; Xu & Jaggars, 2013). To-date, 30,000+ students have enjoyed access to extended learning specifically targeting their needs and guiding them along unfamiliar paths. BPCC’s findings? …Completion can occur at higher rates when online adoption happens early and when students are given effective applications that fit into their everyday routines.
In April, 2013, after nine months planning and building, BPCC’s Open Campus series premiered, and, to-date, 30,000+ students have enjoyed access to extended learning specifically targeting their needs and guiding them along unfamiliar paths. BPCC’s findings? Completion can occur at higher rates when online adoption happens early and when students are given effective applications that fit into their everyday routines. Design? All Open Campus courses function identically, requiring minimal navigation, and are structured within an intuitive template. Learning outcomes, written in everyday language, face outward at each module tab so that students can quickly target weak spots. Within each course, every module leads off with brief lecture videos created by BPCC’s most sought-after developmental instructors, instructors who are most successful at connecting with underprepared students. Video instruction provides a foundation for the learning experience as most students have grown accustomed to seeking out information through YouTube® videos and other social media sites. Video lectures are compartmentalized into small components; as a result, students can easily find, rewind and review difficult concepts. Brief videos also play better on mobile devices as they cut down on buffering, so students can enjoy access to learning concepts anytime, anywhere, beyond the traditional classroom space.
A triangulated set of learning theories underpins the template design which compartmentalizes the learning experience by offering, alongside learning videos, printable handouts and brief multiple-choice quizzes with auto feedback so that students can practice recalling new information for easy “wins.” Results? Significant numbers of entering students have now tested up or out of developmental-level courses, effectively reducing their time to degree/certificate completion. For example, when compared with developmental Algebra II, placement rates into college Algebra, which averaged 50% from fall, 2011 through fall, 2013, have increased significantly to 59% in fall, 2014 and inched up to 60% by fall, 2015. Even more promising are pass rates for college Algebra; last year, BPCC’s math instructors began embedding Open Campus learning materials directly into coursework, and pass rates—stagnated at 66%, 67%, and 66% respectively, over three consecutive fall semesters (2011-13)--rose to 73% in fall 2014 and stabilized at 74% in fall, 2015. Other notable results include an 11% increase in Beginning Algebra, equivalent to high school Algebra 1, and Intermediate Algebra, high school algebra II, of 5% over the same five-year timeframe.
Open Campus course videos are also posted directly to YouTube® and have opened the same learning content to other users who’ve now logged on from all 50 states and 181 countries and territories worldwide; to-date, users en masse have exceeded well over 1.8 million viewing minutes. BPCC funded its initiative completely in-house with its first five developmental courses—three maths, one grammar, and one reading--totaling $23,000; 87% of that cost went directly to faculty salaries. BPCC leveraged the remainder by using existing campus equipment and staff corporate knowledge. Faculty worked hand-in-glove with BPCC’s Ed Tech team to produce videos, edit documents, and upload learning materials. Impact? In short order, students began responding positively, and College personnel started paying close attention. BPCC’s Learning Commons adopted the courses to replace expensive tutorial software, saving the College $50,000 a year. BPCC’s TEM division soon mandated that all new developmental math faculty review Open Campus videos as professional development, to learn effective teaching techniques as modelled by the College’s most successful instructors.
By summer 2014, Open Campus had received Blackboard’s® Catalyst Award for Innovation, and course lectures were consistently realizing engagement rates averaging 60+ minutes per hour. Learning communities from across the state began to adopt BPCC’s Open Campus for SAT and ACT prep. BPCC partners closely with LSU Shreveport, Grambling State University, and Northwestern State University of LA where staff now actively recommend the sites to their students. Learning institutions from ten states and two countries have adopted or replicated BPCC’s Open Campus design, and in January, 2016, BPCC’s initiative received a coveted top-ten award for Community College Future’s Assembly’s Bellwether Award for Innovation.
What were some of the biggest challenges to your initiative, and how did you meet those challenges?The Open Campus Team has learned its own lessons that would inform future projects along the way: we've learned to identify and create content targeting "tipping point" concepts, concepts which can easily become barriers to course completion. Another challenge has been that of efficiently scaling data-gathering, isolating variables without tying up scarce human resources. In September, 2015, BPCC was awarded a $1.8M DoE "First in the World" grant to do just that: track Open Campus project analytics through an Integrated Data Platform to measure more precisely student paths to success.
What are the three biggest components that need to be in place for tech innovation to succeed are:
|Three components that have prompted BPCC's innovation success include top-down support from the College's administration who were willing to make a small investment in a big idea: open sourcing its developmental (remedial) level coursework. Administrative backing also allow the project director to choose participating instructors who had strong passion for spurring success in underprepared students.|
|A second pivotal aspect was the investment by BPCC's department of Educational Technology which lent its corporate knowledge, technical expertise, and equipment to create and oversee video production space for instructors.|
A third component in success, faculty buy-in, in BPCC's case, happened almost overnight. Faculty and division deans recognized the potential for student-success by ramping up student access to quality supplement instructional videos and practice quizzes beyond the realm of the classroom and began actively embedding and promoting the courses as supplemental instruction.