Innovating, cutting costs and data

Innovations 2013, hosted by Dallas Community College District, explored everything from educating prison inmates to the “gamification” of learning.

Controlling costs was a major theme,  reports Matt Reed, who presented as Dean Dad,

 Richard Sebastian, of the Virginia Community College system, presented a “no textbook cost degree” that’s being piloted at Tidewater Community College.  . . . They’ve chosen the Business Administration degree, and through a series of grants and stipends, they’ve convinced enough full-time faculty in the program to use nothing but “Open Educational Resources” that students will be able to get through the entire degree without spending anything on books or other course materials.

Diana Oblinger, CEO of Educause, discussed how colleges are using analytics and other software. For example,  Austin Peay State University (Texas) gives students “top ten” course recommendations for the following semester, complete with projected grades.

If we don’t have the stomach to mandate decisions, but we don’t want students to just throw up their hands at seemingly infinite options, then we can use “nudging” to push students towards the choices we want them to make. Top ten lists are a way to do that. Students are still free to go off the top ten list, but most don’t.

Using data — to teach and to control costs — also was big.

In “The Walking Dean: Surviving the Budget Apocalypse,”  Paul Starer and Lareen Balducci, from Foothill College (CA), opened with images of zombies, carnage and a post-apocalyptic wasteland to introduce California’s budget cuts and the ways it handles community college budgeting.

Dave Szatmary, a vice provost at the University of Washington, discussed UW’s low-cost online bachelor’s degree completion program, developed in consultation with community colleges. “It’s starting with Early Childhood Ed, since the Federal mandate for 50% of Head Start teachers to have bachelor’s degrees kicks in this Fall, and many locations are behind,” writes Reed. “And yes, the program will draw heavily on data analytics.”

St. Clair County Community College in Michigan is using a “courageous conversations” model to engage the faculty and staff in major issues facing the college. No, not racism or homophobia. “It was about data.”  The college releases its internal data and invites comments and questions.

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[...] Business students won’t need to buy books or other materials to earn an associate degree at Virginia’s Tidewater Community College. Faculty have agreed to use “open educational resources.” [...]

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