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The Learning MarketSpace, April 2011

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.












Offering perspectives on issues and developments at the nexus of higher education and information

How Much Does A Math Emporium Cost?

We are frequently asked, how much will it cost to establish a Math Emporium (aside from personnel costs)? While at first glance, this might seem like an obvious question. But in reality, the question is like asking how much a wedding dress or a new home will cost. The answer is, it depends.

There are three main factors that must be considered when estimating the cost of an emporium:
1) How many computers are needed in the lab for students?
2) What items in addition to computers are needed in the lab and what do they cost?
3) What do you already have vs. what do you need to add?

The answer in each case is, it depends.

How many computers are needed in the lab for students?

The number of computers needed depends on how many students are enrolled, how many hours you require in the lab/computer classroom, how many hours the labs/computer classrooms are open, whether you use a fixed or flexible model, whether you test in the lab or elsewhere (e.g., a testing facility), and so on. There is a relationship between the number of hours that the lab is open and the number of computers needed. The more hours you are open, the fewer computers you need and vice versa regardless of the number of students enrolled in the course. You simply need to do the calculations, taking into account the constraints that are particular to your situation.

There are at least three versions of the Emporium Model that can be implemented: 1) a fixed version, 2) a flexible version, and 3) a combination of the fixed and flexible versions. In all three versions, mandatory attendance (e.g., a minimum of three hours weekly) in a computer lab or computer classroom ensures that students spend sufficient time on task and receive on-demand assistance when they need it. Each version requires a different kind of calculation to determine the number of computers needed in the lab.

Fixed Version

At most two-year institutions, the fixed version of the Emporium Model has predominated—that is, mandatory lab hours are scheduled by the institution for student cohorts.

Let’s assume an overall enrollment of 1,000 students with three mandatory lab hours per week, which equals a requirement of 3,000 pc hours.

Remember that there is a relationship between the number of hours that the lab is open and the number of computers needed. To illustrate:

  • If you are open 40 hours per week and have 25 computers in the lab, you could accommodate 1,000 computer hours or one-third of the student need.
  • If you are open 40 hours per week and have 40 computers in the lab, you could accommodate 1,600 computer hours or 53 percent of the student need.
  • If you are open 60 hours per week and have 25 computers in the lab, you could accommodate 1,500 computer hours or half of the student need.
  • If you are open 60 hours per week and have 40 computers in the lab, you could accommodate 2,400 computer hours or 80 percent of the student need.

To accommodate 1,000 students with a three-hour attendance requirement, you would need to be open a minimum of 75 hours per week if your lab holds 40 computers. If your lab holds 60 computers, you would need to be open a minimum of 50 hours per week.

While the lab should include sufficient numbers of computers for each student to have one during scheduled times, some additional computers should be available for those students who would like to work additional hours in the lab beyond the scheduled meeting times. That will increase the number of computers you need.

Flexible Attendance

At most four-year institutions, the flexible version has predominated. This means that while a minimum number of weekly lab hours are mandatory, the hours may be completed at the student’s convenience.

If you require three hours of lab participation per week per student and you keep the lab open 60+ hours per week, this translates to the following rule of thumb: The number of computers required = the number of students/15 if you do not test in your lab or the number of students/11 if you do test in your lab.

Examples without testing
1000 students/15 = 67 computers
800 students/15 = 53 computers
500 students/15 = 33 computers

Examples with testing
1000 students/11 = 91 computers
800 students/11 = 73 computers
500 students/11 = 46 computers

While the numbers shown above translate roughly to 4 computer hours per student if you do not test and 5.5 hours per student if you do test, the large number of open hours and the relatively even distribution of student participation are necessary components of making those ratios work.

To even out lab usage, you should carefully stagger due dates to even out the times students go to the lab. Even with careful scheduling, however, all open labs experience peak attendance periods. For some, it’s late afternoon and early evening; for others, it’s early afternoon and early evening. Planning must take this into account—i.e., you do not want students arriving at the lab to find that all computers are taken. You should determine when the lab will be open based on your institution’s demographics, especially when students tend to be on campus.
If your lab will be open fewer hours--which may be necessary because of staffing constraints, lab availability or student attendance patterns--these ratios do not hold. Smaller numbers of students and smaller numbers of open hours create additional constraints that require special attention in order to make an open lab work.

200 students
Lab is open 20 hours per week
Requires 40 computers
Ratio = 5:1

240 students
Lab is open 12 hours per week
Requires 120 computers
Ratio = 2:1

NOTE: The second example’s ratio was determined by the experience of the Math Redesign Scholars. They have observed that 240 students need at least 120 computers (rather than 80 as the math would imply) if the lab is only open two hours a day. If not, there will be lines of students waiting to use the computers.

Fixed/Flexible Version

Other institutions use some variation on the third version—that is, three mandatory hours are required each week but they may a combination of one fixed meeting, one flexible hour in the lab and one additional hour spent working with the software from anywhere (e.g., from home.) To determine how many computers you will need, you must combine the calculation from the examples cited above.

What items are needed in the lab and how much do they cost?

One you have calculated how many computers you need in the lab, you can then price them as well as the other items needed to support the lab. We recently culled the budget requests from the Changing the Equation applicants to gain a general understanding of what is needed and the associated costs. As you might expect, the items and costs presented varied.

Basic Equipment

  • Computers: ranging from $1300 to $325 per computer
  • Desks/tables for the computers: ranging from $3000 to $1000 per desk/table
  • Chairs: ranging from $245 to $50 per chair
  • Printers: ranging from $1248 to $250 per printer

Other Equipment

  • Port switches to connect the lab to the campus network: ranging from $5,025 to $3,000 for one switch
  • Servers with prices varying due to capacity: ranging from $11,510 to $4,000
  • Wiring and cabling: ranging from $5,622 to $250
  • Headphones @ $1.40                  
  • 30-capacity laptop storage cart @ $3,398

What do we already have vs. what do we need to add?

Some institutions have existing labs that can be re-purposed for use as a Math Emporium at little or no expense; others have to create labs from scratch; still others are somewhere in between. Each situation is different.

Rehabbing space to create larger labs or additional labs is a common expense:

  • Example A: Remodel two existing classrooms into one 96-station lab = $2,300 (including demolition and re-drywall @ $1,200, patching the carpet @ $600 and repairing the ceiling @ $500)                           
  • Example B: Remove a wall between two existing computer labs to create one 30-station lab = $3,500                     
  • Example C:  Construction/electrical costs to reconfigure electrical data outlets in an existing classroom to be used as a 50-station lab = $4,102


As you can see, there is no simple answer to the question, what does it cost to establish a Math Emporium?

To illustrate the difference in individual institutional circumstances, take a look at the different developmental math enrollments of the 38 Changing the Equation participants and the variations in the way they are implementing the Emporium Model.

Mercer County Community College, for example, has an annual developmental math enrollment of 4,260 students and plans to require each student to spend six hours in a 60-computer lab each week. In contrast, Cossatot Community College has an annual developmental math enrollment of 448 students and plans to require each student to spend three hours in the lab each week in 20-student sections. Mercer has two campuses, one of which had a large open lab that could accommodate 60 students and another of which had “some ugly labs” with either 24 or 30 stations. On the latter campus, Mercer needed to knock down walls and create a space to accommodate 60 students. Cossatot already had a number of under-utilized computer labs of 20 computers each. They added five additional computers to each lab to provide extra computers for students who come to the lab on their own time to work.

This article has focused on the question of setting up an emporium facility. This is, of course, but one aspect of what needs to be done when moving to the Emporium Model. With the help the Math Redesign Scholars (especially Phoebe Rouse and Kirk Trigsted), NCAT has created a set of FAQs to provide answers to a variety of additional questions. Please let us know if you have others.

--Carol A. Twigg


Featuring updates and announcements from the Center.

Future Senior Policy Makers Discuss Course Redesign

Preparing new professionals to assume senior policy positions is one of the goals of the Associates Program at the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education. On February 12, 2011, Carol Twigg spoke to the Associates in Santa Fe, NM, and discussed the policy implications of course redesign as a strategy to increase student success at a reduced cost. The Associates include early- to mid-career professionals from academia, government and other nonprofit organizations dealing directly with higher education public policy. The National Center promotes public policies that enhance Americans' opportunities to pursue and achieve high-quality education and training beyond high school. As an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, the National Center prepares action-oriented analyses of pressing policy issues facing the states and the nation regarding opportunity and achievement in higher education including two-and four-year, public and private, for-profit and nonprofit institutions. To learn more about the National Center, see

Trustees Learn That Lack of Leadership is the Obstacle to Effective Change

On April 5, 2011, Carol Twigg made a keynote presentation at the 2011 Association of Governing Boards (AGB) National Conference on Trusteeship in Los Angeles, CA. Carol shared the benefits of using course redesign to improve student learning while reducing instructional costs. The trustees were encouraged to think differently about the relationship between quality and cost based on examples from the projects NCAT has sponsored over the last decade.

An article describing the conference was published in the Chronicle of Higher Education on April 5, 2011 entitled, “Governing Boards Turn to Technology to Reinvent the University.” The article highlighted important points of the keynote, particularly for the AGB audience, and effectively summarized NCAT’s view of what’s keeping more institutions from implementing course redesign: “Ms. Twigg tried to put to rest the notion that faculty resistance to course transformations is what's holding colleges back. Indeed, she not-too-subtly suggested that some of the people in her audience might be to blame for colleges being rather slow to embrace a technological revolution in the classroom. ‘In our view, the problem is lack of leadership at all levels,’ she said.” To read the entire article, see

Change Magazine To Feature NCAT Math Redesign in May/June 2011 Issue

A new article by Carol Twigg, “The Math Emporium: A Silver Bullet for Higher Education,” is scheduled to appear in the May/June issue of Change magazine. One of our most persistent learning problems is the dismal record of student performance in developmental and college-level mathematics at our two- and four-year institutions. But we now know how to improve learning outcomes and student success rates in math at a lower cost than that of traditional instruction—and we can prove it. While not effortless, the solution is as close to a silver bullet as one can get in the complex world of teaching and learning. As readers of this newsletter know well, NCAT calls its model for success the Emporium Model, named after what its originator, Virginia Tech, called its initial course redesign. Interactive computer software combined with personalized, on-demand assistance and mandatory student participation are the model’s key elements. In the article, Carol describes NCAT’s 11 years of experience in conducting large-scale redesign projects in mathematics, which collectively have affected more than 200,000 students. The article breaks these 11 years into four stages of innovative practice from which NCAT extracted the Emporium’s core principles and provides illustrative case studies that document its scalability and sustainability. To read the entire article when it is published, see

A New Section of The Learning MarketSpace: Uncommon Ground

Since its inception, The Learning MarketSpace has featured a section called “Common Ground.” This section provides summaries of efforts in higher education that share NCAT’s twin goals of increasing student success and reducing instructional costs. We will continue to highlight these efforts so that our community can learn from positive examples and important policy reports that are contributing to constructive change in higher education.

It has become increasingly apparent to us that bad examples or failed efforts can be equally instructive. Higher education needs to become more sophisticated about what works and what does not when it comes to change strategies. To this end, we have added a new section, which we are calling “Uncommon Ground.” We will describe weaknesses in national and state initiatives—especially those that intend to use “course redesign” as part of their strategy—which make it highly unlikely that the participants will actually achieve their stated goals.
“Uncommon Ground” will contrast these efforts, which in many cases appear to use NCAT’s key principles, with NCAT’s proven success record. Our goal is to help the broader higher education community 1) gain a better understanding of what will actually work to improve student learning and reduce instructional costs and, 2) avoid wasting time and money on ill-considered efforts. Our inaugural section features a recent evaluation of “Achieving the Dream” and our assessment of the Gates-funded APLU “Course Design Initiative.”

How To Work With NCAT

NCAT is constantly asked, how can our campus get involved in course redesign? There are essentially two ways to work with NCAT: 1) as part of a state or national program, or 2) as an individual institution through the Redesign Alliance. The first is highly structured and guarantees results; the second is more informal and seeks to network like-minded institutions and individuals with one another.

In general, the NCAT staff does not work directly with individual institutions but rather aggregates the demand for our services by creating course redesign programs. To date, NCAT has conducted four competitive national programs funded by private foundations and government agencies. Each national program has sought to demonstrate a particular aspect of improving learning and reducing cost. Full descriptions of our national programs can be found by following the links on our home page: Program in Course Redesign (PCR), Roadmap to Redesign (R2R), Colleagues Committed to Redesign (C2R) and Changing the Equation. In the future, NCAT may launch additional national programs and will announce them in this newsletter. NCAT has also conducted six state/system-based programs (funded by the state or system partner). NCAT seeks to partner with other states and systems to scale the concept of course redesign. To learn more about state/system-based programs, see

NCAT has created the Redesign Alliance to enable individual institutions to become involved in course redesign. The Redesign Alliance offers institutions: 1) participation in workshops, seminars and conferences, all of which are announced in The Learning MarketSpace and on the NCAT website, and 2) membership levels that include campus visits and ongoing consulting by NCAT staff and NCAT Redesign Scholars. NCAT staff only visit campuses that are members of the Redesign Alliance. Campuses that have a particular disciplinary focus and/or seek to provide a general introduction to course redesign may also contact an NCAT Redesign Scholar to make individual arrangements for visits and consultations.

Institutions, organizations and companies are encouraged to take full advantage of the resources offered on the NCAT website, especially the Course Redesign Planning Resources and the Course Redesign Case Studies. In the future, we plan to develop a series of step-by-step guides for campuses and systems that want to initiate a course redesign program that draws from our experiences over the past 11 years. If you would like to discuss these ideas further, contact Carolyn Jarmon at

New NCAT Web Page: “What Others Are Saying about NCAT”

NCAT has established a new section on our website, “What Others Are Saying About NCAT,” to capture in one place what national policy organizations and news media are saying about the power of course redesign to address higher education’s most serious problems.  Selections include articles and reports on NCAT by national organizations such as Education Sector, the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, The Secretary of Education’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education, and the White House Task Force on Middle Class Working Families as well as articles in publications such as Diverse Issues in Higher Education, Inside Higher Education, Newsweek and US News and World Report. To access this new section, see

Carolyn Jarmon Discusses Mathematics Course Redesign at ICTCM

Over 300 math faculty who teach at both the developmental and college level gathered in Denver, CO, for the 23rd annual meeting of the International Conference on Technology in Collegiate Mathematics (ICTCM). On March 18, 2011, Carolyn Jarmon, NCAT's vice president, presented the results of redesigns of both developmental and college-level mathematics at NCAT partner institutions. Attendees ranged from those new to the idea of course redesign to those who have tried some changes but have yet to scale them to all students in a particular course. Several NCAT Redesign Scholars also gave presentations on their campus redesigns at the conference, including Phoebe Rouse from Louisiana State University, John Squires from Chattanooga State Community College, Kirk Trigsted from the University of Idaho and Karen Wyrick from Cleveland State Community College. To learn more about ICTCM, see


Engaging community colleges in a successful redesign of their developmental math sequences.

Changing the Equation Teams Conduct Spring 2011 Pilots

The 38 institutions participating in Changing the Equation are currently conducting pilots of their developmental math redesigns. What does it mean to pilot? A pilot involves testing the redesign idea, including most if not all of the important quality improvement and cost savings characteristics of the planned redesign, with a sub-set of students enrolled in the courses. Enrollment in the pilot section(s) needs to be large enough so the redesign team can learn what problems students are likely to face and how to resolve these prior to scaling up to full implementation in all sections of the course. The pilot period provides an opportunity for the redesign team to uncover technology issues or any problems with newly designed assignments or activities that might emerge. For some institutions, the pilot term also provides a time to collect consistent data on student learning from both traditional and redesign sections that can be compared when consistent historical data are not available. For many institutions, the pilot has provided a time to make sure that important audiences both on and off campus have been informed of changes in the course and to be sure that all potential “bumps in the road” have been smoothed. Overall, a pilot provides the redesign team with a “dress rehearsal” of the redesigned course and an opportunity to resolve any issues that may arise. Teams have learned that it is much easier to solve problems with 150-200 students rather than with 1,000 students.

Following completion of the spring pilots, four representatives from each institutional team will gather on June 2-3, 2011, for a Mid-Course Sharing Workshop. At this workshop, teams will discuss the learning outcomes achieved during the pilot, the challenges they have faced and what changes they plan to make prior to full implementation of their redesigns in fall 2011, when all developmental math courses at each institution will be conducted in the redesigned format. NCAT staff, Redesign Scholars and members of other teams will provide feedback to help project teams resolve any issues encountered during the pilot implementations. Results reported at this workshop will be shared in the July 2011 issue of The Learning MarketSpace. To learn more about Changing the Equation and the participating institutions, see


Featuring initiatives to scale course redesign through state- and system-wide redesign programs.

Missouri Course Redesign Initiative Moves Forward

The Governor of Missouri and Missouri’s public four-year institutions have established a major course redesign initiative, in partnership with NCAT, to redesign large-enrollment, multi-section undergraduate courses using technology-supported active learning strategies. The goal is to achieve improvements in learning outcomes as well as reductions in instructional costs. During the period 2011-2013, the program expects to support one project at each of the 13 participating campuses.

The Missouri initiative is well underway. An Orientation Workshop was held on February 18, 2011. More than 250 faculty and administrators gathered in Columbia, MO to learn about course redesign and the program’s requirements and timeline. After the Orientation Workshop, course redesign teams who chose to go forward submitted responses to a series of readiness criteria. Based on their responses to the readiness criteria, 23 potential projects were selected to move forward in the application process. Institutions and the course(s) they intend to redesign are: Harris-Stowe State University: Developmental Algebra; Lincoln University: Basic English; Missouri Southern State University: Oral Communication; Missouri State University: Psychology; Missouri University of Science and Technology: Chemistry; Missouri Western State University: Introduction to Business and Developmental Math; Northwest Missouri State University: Management, Math Skills, and Psychology; Southeast Missouri State University: College Algebra, Sociology and Spanish; Truman State University: Health and Fitness; University of Central Missouri: Anatomy and Physiology, English Composition, Intermediate Algebra, and Macroeconomics; University of Missouri-Columbia: Statistics; University of Missouri-Kansas City: Biology and College Algebra; and, University of Missouri-St. Louis: Information Systems and Spanish.

These 23 course teams attended a Planning Workshop held on April 8, 2011, in Jefferson City, MO. Prior to the workshop, the teams completed a series of homework assignments. During the workshop, teams were provided feedback from NCAT and from peer institutions on their preliminary redesign ideas. Teams are currently engaged in final planning and proposal development. Teams will submit final proposals by July 15, 2011, and projects selected to participate in the initiative will be announced on July 31, 2011. The selected teams will pilot their redesigns in spring 2012 and fully implement them in fall 2012.  To learn more, contact Chris Weisbrook at or see

Missouri’s Redesign Initiative Attracts Gates Foundation Grant

As one of 29 grantees selected from more than 600 applications, Missouri’s 13 public four-year universities have received a shared grant of $250,000 from the Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC) program funded by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation. The grant will support the Missouri Course Redesign Initiative described above and subsequently promote collaboration among Missouri's universities after the initial round of course redesigns. Once the courses have been redesigned during the partnership with NCAT, Missouri will hold a series of workshops and events to share the success of the redesigns and to foster collaboration across the state. "Working in close collaboration to redesign courses and make the best use of innovative technology, our public four-year schools can serve tens of thousands of students more efficiently and effectively, reduce costs, and meet higher academic goals, including college completion," said Jay Nixon, Governor of Missouri. Missouri’s NGLC grant adds to the $240,000 from the state's public universities, $100,000 from the State of Missouri and $15,000 from the Missouri Department of Higher Education already committed, bringing the project total to $605,000 for the two-part initiative. To learn more, contact Chris Weisbrook at


Linking those new to course redesign with experienced colleagues to whom they can turn for advice and support.

NCAT Scholars Help Launch New Campus Redesign Initiatives

Over 50 Redesign Scholars are listed on the NCAT website. These talented campus leaders have successfully completed and sustained a redesign and are available to assist other higher education institutions that seek to undertake a course redesign. They can offer many services.  For example, Jennifer Hearne, who led the redesign of General Chemistry at University of Maryland Eastern Shore, gave a presentation at a redesign retreat at the University of North Florida (UNF) on April 21, 2011, to kick off their campus initiative. The goals of Jennifer’s participation in the retreat were to provide an overview of the NCAT course redesign process, review and comment on which UNF gatekeeper courses would be amenable to the redesign process, share how she got started on course redesign and facilitate an open discussion about how to proceed, highlighting possible implementation issues.

Megan Bradley, from Frostburg State University, visited the University of Tampa on April 29, 2011, to discuss her institution’s psychology redesign and their very effective use of undergraduate learning assistants. Megan is also leading a developmental math redesign at her own institution, using the principles she learned while redesigning General Psychology. The University of Tampa is interested in beginning a campus-wide course redesign initiative, and Megan will provide a hands-on perspective, useful for interested faculty in a range of academic areas.

Sally Search from Tallahassee Community College (TCC) will work with Amarillo College (AC), a member of the Redesign Alliance, on a new initiative funded by a five-year Title V grant. The goal of this initiative is to revitalize student success by redesigning general education courses and developing innovative student support programs to improve student completion rates. AC’s first redesign will involve English composition, the course redesigned by Sally and her team at TCC as part of the Program in Course Redesign.   Sally will specifically focus on planning and assessment in her work with the college.

In future issues, we will continue to provide examples of ways that Redesign Scholars are contributing to helping other institutions learn about course redesign. NCAT’s Redesign Scholars program provides a way for faculty and administrators who have completed and sustained a redesign to share their expertise with those who seek to replicate the success. To learn more about NCAT’s Redesign Scholars program, see


Featuring updates from the Alliance, a member organization of institutions, organizations and companies committed to and experienced with large-scale course redesign.

Redesign Alliance Spring Workshops and Seminars Attract National Participation

In October 2010, NCAT announced its intention to replace the Redesign Alliance Annual Conference for at least two years with a series of smaller seminars and workshops that are less expensive for all participants. That decision was reached in view of the dismal budget situations that are projected in higher education for the near future. In essence, we decided to apply the principles of redesign to the conference–-i.e., to serve more people at a reduced cost. Our strategy seems to be working. Since that announcement, we have held five events (two Getting Started seminars plus the three described below) with a total registration of close to 600 participants, which far exceeds our projected conference registrations, and we have two more Alliance events planned for the fall.

Mathematics Redesign

NCAT held a well-attended, two-part workshop, Increasing Student Success in Developmental and College-Level Math, on February 6-7 and February 8, 2011, in Orlando, FL. More than 300 faculty and administrators participated. The event began on Sunday evening with a welcome reception and exhibits by corporate members of the Redesign Alliance who offer products and services that can be used in redesigning college-level and developmental math. Those exhibiting included Carnegie Learning, Hawkes Learning Systems, iLearn, Pearson Education, SIRIUS Academics and SMARTHINKING.

February 7 was devoted to an Orientation Workshop for those who wanted to learn more about the Emporium Model and its successful implementation across the U.S. in both developmental and college-level math. Participants selected a track for either four-year or two-year institutions. After Carol Twigg presented an overview on what NCAT has learned about what works best in the redesign of mathematics, math Redesign Scholars shared their redesign approaches and specifics about their particular redesigns including the problem they were trying to solve, the changes they made in the content and structure of the traditional course and the results they have achieved. Following a wrap-up panel, attendees had the opportunity to engage individually with the Redesign Scholars during an informal session at the end of the day.

On February 8, a half-day Planning Workshop gave campus teams that are ready to launch a math redesign the opportunity to learn about specific next steps. Workshop topics were selected to address the key implementation issues in developing a successful redesign such as how to organize an emporium, whether or not to modularize course content and how to engage students effectively. These sessions also involved Redesign Scholars who have successfully sustained a math redesign.

The Scholars presenting at the workshop were Betty Frost from Jackson State Community College, Jamie Glass from the University of Alabama, Phoebe Rouse from Louisiana State University, John Squires from Chattanooga State Community College, Kirk Trigsted from the University of Idaho and Karen Wyrick from Cleveland State Community College. The agendas for these workshops linked to the presentation slides are available at

Science and Engineering Redesign

Faculty members and administrators engaged in science and engineering instruction gathered on March 11, 2011, at the LeCroy Center in Dallas, TX, at a seminar showcasing successful course redesigns. The seminar was co-sponsored by the Dallas County Community College District. At this seminar, two NCAT Redesign Scholars provided valuable case studies for the participants. Ron Gutberlet from Salisbury University discussed his team’s redesign of Fundamentals of Biology and Masoud Rais-Rohani described the redesign of Statics, an introductory engineering course, at Mississippi State University. Participants had the opportunity to talk with these faculty project leaders and learned more about the challenges they have overcome and the outcomes they have achieved. In addition, Jennifer Baggett from the LeCroy Center described a redesign of an online biology course that will be available to all community colleges in the state of Texas as well as to the Texas virtual high school. The agenda linked to the presenters’ slides is available at

Social Science Redesign

The Buffalo State College campus was the site of the third disciplinary-based event held this spring. On April 18, 2011, faculty members and administrators teaching in the social sciences met to learn more about course redesign. The seminar featured two successful redesigns conducted by NCAT Redesign Scholars and their highly effective use of undergraduate learning assistants (ULAs) as a key feature of their redesigns. Megan Bradley described the redesign of General Psychology at Frostburg State University; Bill Ganley from Buffalo State College discussed the redesign of The Economic System. Both emphasized the important role the ULAs play in student success in these courses. Participants were able to learn about how the redesign projects got started, what issues the teams faced in implementing their redesigns and what learning improvements and cost reductions have been achieved. The agenda linked to the presenters’ slides is available at

Redesign Alliance Events To Be Held Fall 2011

Planning for fall Redesign Alliance events is underway. The first event will be open only to members of the Redesign Alliance. Because most member institutions have already initiated a redesign, this event will focus on next steps and sustainability of redesign rather than introductory or planning sessions. NCAT will poll members about what sessions would be most useful and will build an agenda based on those responses.

Due to popular demand, NCAT is also planning another Getting Started on Course Redesign seminar for those who are thinking about beginning a redesign project. The seminar will provide participants the opportunity to learn about how redesign efforts have begun at both four- and two-year institutions and how these initial redesigns have spread to other departments on campus. This event will be open to the higher education community. The program will include an overview of course redesign by NCAT’s vice president, Carolyn Jarmon, as well as case studies of completed course redesigns that have been sustained over time.

The dates and locations of both events will be included in the July 2011 issue of The Learning MarketSpace.
If you have questions or suggestions about either event, contact Carolyn Jarmon at

New Redesign Alliance Membership Levels Support Campuswide and Statewide Initiatives

NCAT now offers a diversified way for institutions to become involved in course redesign via two new levels of institutional membership in the Redesign Alliance: 1) a $10,000 level that includes the current member benefits plus one campus workshop annually conducted by NCAT staff and/or NCAT Redesign Scholars plus related follow-up telephone and email advice and counsel throughout the year; and 2) a $25,000 level that includes the current member benefits plus ongoing consultation about campus redesign activities from NCAT staff and/or NCAT Redesign Scholars throughout the year, including at least two campus visits. Each level provides increasing involvement with NCAT, with the Redesign Alliance and with the institutions undertaking course redesigns.

As reported in the last issue of The Learning MarketSpace, two institutions were the first to take advantage of this new opportunity: the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) and the University of South Florida (USF). USF is initiating a campus-wide Request for Proposals that will provide support to three course redesigns during 2011 and an additional three in 2012. Carolyn Jarmon visited the USF campus on January 21, 2011, to help kick off the initiative. She met with more than 80 interested faculty and administrators to share past redesign successes and advice for shaping the new initiative. During the remainder of the day, Carolyn met with particular groups on campus such as the campus deans and smaller faculty groups.

Alliance membership at UNO was initiated by math department faculty and the dean who heard Carolyn speak at the annual meeting of the Council of Colleges of Arts and Sciences in November 2010. A redesign of developmental math is underway with full implementation planned for fall 2011. Initial interest emerged through math faculty participation at previous Redesign Alliance events. Carolyn Jarmon visited the campus on March 4, 2011. UNO would like to expand redesign efforts to other departments, and Carolyn’s role was to assist them in spreading the understanding of the goals and successes other institutions have experienced. She met with groups of interested faculty and administrators including those who offer online courses, deans and senior administrators, and faculty from the math and sciences.

Three new institutions/organizations have joined the Alliance at the $10,000 level: Amarillo College, the Arkansas Association of Two-Year Colleges and Montana State University Billings. Amarillo College has received a Title V grant which focuses on the redesign of general education courses over a five-year period. On March 25, 2011, Carolyn visited the campus and provided an overview of course redesign at an open gathering for all campus faculty for about 140 participants. She also consulted with the English department faculty, the provost and others who are focused on the redesign of English Composition I and II, the first courses in the general education sequence targeted for redesign. On April 15, 2011, Carolyn provided an orientation to course redesign for faculty in developmental math, reading and English from Arkansas’s two-year colleges. Carolyn was joined by Mike Wright from Cossatot Community College, one of the 38 participants in Changing the Equation, who described their project’s goals and their achievements thus far.

In each case, the day-long visit was customized to fit the particular goals of the program at the particular institution or organization. This level of Alliance membership also includes continuing telephone and email consultation throughout the year. These examples offer suggestions as to how the new Alliance membership levels can contribute to the development of an institution’s redesign efforts, but they are merely examples. Other kinds of campus visits can be organized based on what the institution seeks to achieve and what kinds of challenges it faces. To learn more about these membership levels, contact Carolyn Jarmon at

News from Redesign Alliance Corporate Members

NCAT now offers four levels of membership in the Redesign Alliance are: Corporate Member ($5,000), Corporate Associate ($10,000), Corporate Partner ($25,000) and Corporate Strategic Partner ($50,000). Each level provides increasing involvement with NCAT, with the Redesign Alliance and with the institutions undertaking course redesigns.
Corporate Strategic Partner: Pearson To Hold September Conference on Course Redesign

Building on several highly successful prior conferences, Pearson Education will hold its Eighth Annual Course Redesign Conference on September 23 - 24, 2011, at the Hilton Bonnet Creek in Orlando, FL. Participants will learn how to get started on course redesign from NCAT’s Carolyn Jarmon and from large- and small-group interaction with experienced educators in accounting, biology, chemistry, developmental reading and writing, English composition, math, psychology and world languages. The workshop will highlight successful course redesigns that take advantage of technology to improve student learning and efficiency in large-enrollment, introductory courses. Participants will learn how to implement course redesign principles in both quantitative and qualitative disciplines. Faculty will also have the opportunity to learn more about Pearson's technology products, including MyWritingLab, MyMathLab and MasteringScience. or contact Karen Mullane at If you need an access code to view a sample gallery of how institutions have used MyMathLab in redesign, send an email to to obtain a login and password for these sample courses.

Corporate Members Participate in Redesign Workshops

One of the advantages of being a corporate member of the Redesign Alliance is the opportunity to participate in Alliance events and provide information about the company’s products and services at the gatherings. These events also provide an excellent venue for educating a range of employees about course redesign since different corporate representatives participate at different events. Corporate members exhibiting at the math, science and engineering, and social sciences workshops and seminars described above included Carnegie Learning, Cengage Learning, Hawkes Learning Systems, iLearn, Pearson Education, and SMARTHINKING

Corporate members also have the opportunity to exhibit at workshops that are part of NCAT’s national, state and system programs. Corporate members of the Alliance were represented at both workshops held in Missouri this spring. The next opportunity for corporate members of the Alliance to learn about course redesign will occur at the Mid-Course Sharing Workshop for the Changing the Equation teams on June 2-3, 2011. Because this workshop focuses on reports from the participating institutions about results achieved during pilot implementations, there will be no formal exhibits. This is, however, an excellent chance for corporate representatives to learn more about how the redesigns are progressing, what issues have arisen and how teams are dealing with these challenges. Such insight from innovative faculty and administrators can be extremely useful to companies seeking to improve their products and services to higher education.

Specifics regarding each level of membership and its benefits can be found at To discuss which level is right for you, contact Carolyn Jarmon at


Reporting on initiatives that share the Center's goals and objectives.

More Learning for Less Cost: States Partner with Western Governors’ University

In the past, many states have seen the creation of new campuses or the expansion of existing ones as the only options to meet increased demand for higher education. In today’s economic climate, neither approach appears to be feasible. While many businesses have routinely outsourced various components of their operations, higher education has not embraced this approach to expand options for students. As the outcry for greater college completion and workforce preparation increases, the states of Indiana and Washington are thinking that outsourcing may contribute to greater higher education access at a relatively low cost.

The state of Indiana recently announced a partnership with Western Governors’ University (WGU), a recognized expert in the field of online learning for working adults, to provide educational opportunities for Indiana’s citizens. According to an Inside Higher Ed article, “the state would set up a ‘private label’ version of Western Governors known as WGU Indiana, creating, in essence, what [Mitch] Daniels [Governor of Indiana] called ‘Indiana's eighth state university.’" A key aspect of this partnership is that Indiana students will be able to use their state-funded financial aid at the new institution. Because the tuition at WGU Indiana will be comparable to the tuition of other Indiana public institutions, the state expects WGU Indiana to be attractive to adult students (ages 29-49), a prime target in Indiana to increase college enrollment and completion.

The state of Washington is considering a similar arrangement. The proposed “institution” would be called WGU-Washington and the partnership with WGU would expand the opportunities for students in Washington to achieve college degrees. “At a time when Washington's higher-education budget is being slashed, some lawmakers believe a partnership with WGU could provide more access to college programs without costing the state any money” according to a March 20, 2011article in the Seattle Times.

To read the Inside Higher Ed article on WGU Indiana, see To read the article from the Seattle Times, see

Delta Project Issues Report on Lack of Leadership

In December 2010, the Delta Project on Postsecondary Education Cost, Productivity and Accountability issued a new report in concert with the The National Center for Higher Education Management Systems, and The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education. Entitled “Strengthening College Opportunity and Performance: Federal, State and Institutional Leadership,” the report addresses the demand at all levels to increase the number of students in college and the number of graduates to meet workforce needs. However, according to the report, the U.S. “does not have a strategy to support producing the graduates we need. In fact, current funding policies are eroding rather than increasing opportunity and attainment. Moreover, most state policymakers and higher education leaders have neglected to devote systematic attention to the urgent need to control spending and to increase institutional performance.” The report focuses on the gaps in leadership at all levels as well as the declining public trust, not in the value of higher education, “but the values of the leaders of the institutions that provide it.” The report moves on to make recommendations regarding what each level of leadership needs to contribute and how it should think about their role in the overall goals of college completion. To read the entire report, see


Helping the higher education community understand change strategies.

Achieving the Dream Produces Little Change at a Big Price Tag

In the past two decades, many programs and initiatives have attempted to improve student success, but few have succeeded. Achieving the Dream (ATD), which is now a national non-profit organization, was established in 2003 with support from Lumina Foundation for Education; Lumina has put $76 million into the project thus far. Those community colleges participating in ATD were given substantial grant funding to show measurable improvement in success rates for low-income students and students of color, with no reduction in enrollment levels for these populations. ATD’s goals are to increase the percentage of students who: 1) successfully complete the courses they take; 2) advance from remedial to credit-bearing courses; 3) enroll in and successfully complete gatekeeper courses; 4) enroll from one semester to the next; and, 5) earn degrees and/or certificates. As a means to accomplishing those ends, ATD encouraged the creation of a “culture of evidence” so that the participating colleges could identify barriers for students and reduce them.

A recent report, "Turning the Tide: Five Years of Achieving the Dream in Community Colleges," examines the 26 community colleges that joined the project in 2004 and tracks their progress through spring 2009. It was conducted by MDRC, a nonprofit social-policy-research organization, and the Community College Research Center at Columbia University's Teachers College. As a February 9, 2011 Chronicle of Education article summarizes, "Now, seven years into this ambitious project, a study has found that while colleges in the program have changed their practices significantly, students' levels of achievement have remained relatively unchanged." The reviewers conclude that participating community colleges have made some progress in instituting a culture of evidence but that little actual change in college success and completion have accompanied these changes.

A related report from MDRC entitled, “Investing in Change: How Much Do Achieving the Dream Colleges Spend— and from What Resources—to Become Data-Driven Institutions?” was published in June 2010. Focused on the use of resources from five of the Achieving the Dream institutions, one of the key findings in the report is that, over a five-year period, “On average, these colleges spent $6.3 million on their broad institutional reform process.”

Lumina Foundation, which we repeat has put $76 million into the project, has acknowledged that “meaningful change requires a longer-term effort.” We say it requires a better strategy.

To read the Chronicle of Education article, see To read the “Turning the Tide” report, see To read the “Investing in Change” report, see

Oh No! Not Another “Build It and They Will Come”

The Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) recently announced that it has received a planning grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support a “Course Design Initiative.” Partnering with the Open Learning Initiative (OLI) and the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), APLU expects teams from member universities, community colleges and OLI staff to develop five to seven technology-based, introductory courses, which will be used by other universities and colleges. The hope is that “instructors far and wide” will want to use the course materials and that they will “go viral.”

Despite the appropriation of NCAT’s “brand,” this initiative differs significantly from NCAT’s approach to course redesign. Here are some examples:

1) This initiative seeks to develop courses and course materials collaboratively that will be used by multiple institutions. NCAT discourages inter-institutional collaboration in course redesign because it simply doesn’t work. Numerous examples have shown that more time is taken in resolving collaboration issues (going to lots of meetings) than in improving student learning outcomes.
2) The premise of this initiative is that teams of faculty can arrive at common learning outcomes for courses that can be used at research universities, community colleges and others despite big differences among student populations. NCAT’s course redesign methodology is adapted specifically by each institution to take into account these important differences.
3) This initiative seems to think that the obstacle to widespread adoption of innovative, technology-based courses is the lack of innovative, technology-based courses. NCAT knows that availability of courses and course materials is not a problem.
4) This initiative does not address cost reduction, a key element of course redesign, other than asserting that because the Internet can make course materials available to students almost anywhere, the materials will be less expensive. This appears to us to be a non sequitur.

Unfortunately, this is yet another example of trying to create the “one big course” that everyone can use. There is no evidence that faculty at U.S. institutions will use courses developed elsewhere in any kind of sustainable way, and there is plenty of evidence that they will not. While NCAT has shown that large numbers of faculty can improve student learning outcomes while reducing instructional costs through course redesign, we have also learned that faculty members at each institution need to “own” both the content, the sequencing of that content, measures of student learning and pedagogical approaches used in their courses. It is extremely challenging to get one department in one institution to agree on these important matters. (There’s a reason why there are 72 introductory psychology textbooks on the market.) Indeed, this cultural factor is frequently cited by campuses as the reason why course redesigns are not implemented. National higher education association and disciplinary society “endorsements” will not cause faculty to embrace courses to which they have had no input. To read more about the initiative, see


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