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The Learning MarketSpace, January 2012

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

There's No Such Thing As A Free Lunch

In a November 20, 2011 article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Kevin Carey, policy director for Education Sector, makes the following comment about Carnegie Mellon’s OLI (Open Learning Initiative) courses: “Those courses aren’t just cheap—they're free.”

How could someone so well informed about so many issues be so naïve about this one? This is like saying that the Red Cross is free.

Unfortunately, he is not alone.

Are Carnegie Mellon’s OLI courses free? Of course not.

According to the OLI website, the Open Learning Initiative has been generously supported by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Lumina Foundation for Education and The Kresge Foundation.  In addition to major support from these foundations, many of the OLI courses have been developed with additional support from the National Science Foundation, the James S. McDonnell Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Cognitive Science Program of the Office of Naval Research and the Pew Charitable Trusts. Hewlett alone has given CMU at least $6.5 million.

To support its “free” courses, the OLI has continued to seek and receive grants from a range of foundations. Its focus has shifted away from core CMU courses toward courses aimed at community colleges, aligning itself with the new direction of funders’ priorities (for example, $2.5 million from the Gates Foundation “to expand successful interactive courseware that blends a digital tutor with live instruction for high-enrollment, low-success community college courses.”)

“MIT Expands Its Free Online Courses”

The era of “free” courses began with MIT’s OpenCourseWare (OCW) Initiative. As an April 4, 2001 Chronicle article said, “MIT plans to announce a 10-year initiative, apparently the biggest of its kind, that intends to create public Web sites for almost all of its 2,000 courses and to post materials like lecture notes, problem sets, syllabuses, exams, simulations, even video lectures. . . . Other universities may be striving to market their courses to the Internet masses in hopes of dot-com wealth. But the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has chosen the opposite path: to post virtually all its course materials on the Web, free to everybody.”

Are MIT’s courses free? Of course not.

According to the OCW website, “Our supporters include The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Lord Foundation of Massachusetts, The Dirk and Charlene Kabcenell Foundation, the Ab Initio Corporation, and major supporters. In-kind contributors include Bain & Company, Google Grants, The CCG Group, Seagate, Inc, and United Nations Development Programme. Hewlett alone has given MIT at least $6.5 million.

The total annual cost of operating OpenCourseWare is estimated to be about $3.5 million.  As MIT says, “The effort required to produce OCW may not be readily apparent, but for each course we publish we must compile course materials from faculty, ensure proper licensing for open sharing, and format materials for global distribution. Additional rich media, such as our very popular video content, is especially costly. We must also sustain a considerable technical infrastructure to manage content and distribute it through a worldwide network to our global audience. In addition, we provide and support local mirror sites in bandwidth constrained regions.”

To support this effort, MIT is turning to Red-Cross-like fund raising. This was its recent e-mail appeal: "Though MIT will continue to support about half the cost of the program, our challenge is to offset the loss of grant funding with substantial increases in corporate sponsorships, major gifts, and donations from site visitors and supporters."

“Curious about GameTheory? Milton? Yale Has a Free Course for You”

I’m not out to bash the Chronicle, but they sure do love using “free” in their headlines. According to an October 17, 2008 article, “Yale University is adding eight courses to its free online offerings, the university announced. The courses, which were recorded as taught, are available in video and audio formats from the Open Yale Courses website. For each course the university also posts searchable transcripts, syllabi, reading assignments, and additional materials such as problem sets.”

Are Yale’s courses free? Of course not.

Relying largely on money from Hewlett, Yale has spent $30,000 to $40,000 for each course it puts online. This includes the cost of the videographer, generating a transcript and providing what Diana E. E. Kleiner, who runs Open Yale Courses (OYC), calls “quality assurance.” By spring 2011, Yale had come close to its initial goal of putting up 36 courses and has plans to add more.

It now seems that Yale’s plan for future sustainability is to follow the MIT example. From the OYC home page: “Providing free and open access to Yale courses requires significant resources. We are committed to continuing Open Yale Courses but we can’t do it without you. Please help us fulfill the promise of open education by donating to Open Yale Courses in any way you can. Every gift will make a difference.”

“Universities to Release Free Course-Management Software”

Even learning management systems can be had for free. A July 15, 2004 Chronicle article announced, “A cooperative venture by several major universities to build free course-management software is expected to release the first version of its product today, together with the complete source code, so that any college or individual can customize and enhance the program.”

Is Sakai free? Of course not.

According to the Chronicle, the project originally had “an unusual amount of backing for a university-led software effort, having won a $2.4-million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and a $300,000 grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The four lead universities have pledged about $1-million each in staff time, with several programmers at each institution working full time on Sakai.” Now Sakai charges membership dues—plus the cost of participating institutions’ contributed IT staff time—to support its continuing existence

Here Comes the Kahn Academy

Well, at least Inside Higher Ed didn’t use “free” in the headline of its December 7, 2011 article on the Kahn Academy. But it couldn’t resist using it in the article itself: “Unlike publishers and test-prep companies who have developed software that creates detailed learning profiles for students working through problem sets and uses predictive modeling to gauge mastery--products which can cost each student as much as a regular textbook, Khan Academy offers its video tutorials, and unlimited use of its ‘smart’ exercise platform, free.  And its eponymous founder has no plans to bill students.”

Are the Kahn Academy courses free? Of course not.

The organization has attracted enough investment ($16.5 million, according to the New York Times) to subsidize its $3 million annual operating budget. According to Inside Higher Ed, “Khan himself comes off as almost cavalier when discussing the future of Khan Academy. ‘There is no business model,’ he told Inside Higher Ed. Asked whether he thinks his nonprofit model is sustainable, he replies, ‘I'm not sure,’ adding, ‘It’s not like we have a big strategic plan to raise 'X' dollars by 'X' date or anything like that.’”

The Bottom Line

An April 18, 2010 New York Times article summed it up: “Open course material on the Internet may be free, but getting it there definitely isn’t. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the principal financial backer of the open educational movement, has spent more than $110 million over the past eight years.” Roger Schonfeld of Ithaka S+R estimates that “$150 million has been spent on open education over the past decade, and more money is coming in from other sources, including $8 million contributed last year by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.”  Mike Smith, the principal architect of the open education resource movement at Hewlett, recently spent time at the U.S. Department of Education. Would you be surprised to know that the Obama administration has proposed spending $500 million on creating “free” courses? Is that $500 million your tax dollars or mine?

The irony of Bill Gates, the man who made his fortune by selling software, picking up the mantle of Mike Smith is almost beyond comprehension. Why would anyone with any knowledge of the cost of developing and maintaining software spend millions of dollars to develop “free” software with no business plan for sustaining it? Apparently, flooding the market with “free” software will magically lead to improved graduation rates at lower costs. Give me a break.

I am interested in improving student learning, and I am interested in reducing the cost of higher education. Education is not “free”, nor should it be. Education costs money, both to develop instructional resources and to use them in helping students learn. These foundation and government schemes are childish in their utter simplicity—just put up a video-taped lecture from Yale and students will learn—and it will all be free.

My mentor Bob Heterick, former president of Educom, liked to pose the question, “how much learning for how much cost?” as a way to think about the relationship of resources invested to outcomes achieved in higher education.

In this article, I am not going to spend time discussing the fact that there is precious little evidence that anyone has learned anything from this $150 million and counting “investment” in free resources. I won’t discuss the fact that Yale “invented” an idea that a company executed in the 1980’s (“great lectures from great universities”) before it went out of business due to lack of interest (and these lectures were supposedly the “best” from all institutions of higher education.) I won’t discuss the fact that “hits” on a web site and personal testimonials do not provide evidence of student learning. And I won’t point out that these “free” repository schemes include no student support, no college credit, no interaction with faculty and so on.

My goal is simple: I would like the higher education community to focus on investments made for results achieved. I would like our community to stop saying that these course materials are “free.” Perhaps then we can start to address the important question, how much learning for how much cost?

--Carol A. Twigg


Featuring updates and announcements from the Center.

Course Redesign Continues to Pop up on White House Radar

On Monday, January 23, 2010, President Obama addressed the issue of rising college costs in his State of the Union address. In addition to a call for increasing student financial aid, the president said, “We can’t just keep subsidizing skyrocketing tuition. We’ll run out of money. States also need to do their part, by making higher education a higher priority in their budgets. And colleges and universities have to do their part by working to keep costs down. Now, recently, I spoke with a group of college presidents who’ve done just that. Some schools redesign courses to help students finish more quickly. Some use better technology. The point is, it’s possible.” The presidents referred to are Brit Kirwan, University System of Maryland chancellor, and Freeman Hrabowski, University of Maryland, Baltimore County president. Both institutions initiated course redesign programs in partnership with NCAT and have gone on to redesign additional courses.

This is not the first time that President Obama has cited course redesign as a way to address the most important issues facing higher education. In a major speech on higher education on August 9, 2010, in Austin, TX., he said, “There are community colleges like Tennessee's Cleveland State that are redesigning remedial math courses and boosting not only student achievement but also graduation rates. And we ought to make a significant investment to help other states pick up on some of these models.”  In addition, Secretary Duncan recently cited NCAT’s work as described below. What’s different about the attention now being focused on rising higher education costs by the administration is that they are proposing to inject some teeth into their position. As the president said, “So let me put colleges and universities on notice: If you can’t stop tuition from going up, the funding you get from taxpayers will go down. Higher education can’t be a luxury. It is an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford.”

Duncan Cites NCAT as An Exemplar in Lowering College Costs

Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education, recently called on colleges and universities to reduce costs at their institutions. According to the November 29, 2011 New York Times, Secretary Duncan pushed higher education officials to “think more creatively—and with much greater urgency—about how to contain the spiraling costs of college and reduce the burden of student debt on our nation’s students.” “Three in four Americans now say that college is too expensive for most people to afford,” Mr. Duncan said. “That belief is even stronger among young adults—three-fourths of whom believe that graduates today have more debt than they can manage.” Duncan also acknowledged that tuition increases are complicated by the need for greater access and declining state support for public institutions. He lauded those colleges and universities that have cut tuition—few enough that he was able to name almost every effort —Duquesne University, the University of Oregon and the University of Charleston. He praised recent reform efforts like the National Center for Academic Transformation, which ”pioneered the redesign of high-enrollment courses at more than 100 institutions, substantially reducing their costs and others.” While such programs are now the exception, Mr. Duncan said, “I want them to be the norm.” To read the entire article, see

University of Alabama Celebrates Ten Years of Success in Mathematics Redesign

The University of Alabama (UA) recently marked 10 years of sustained redesign in mathematics. As part of NCAT’s first redesign program, the Program in Course Redesign, UA initially redesigned intermediate algebra, a course with success rates in its traditional format as low as 36%, which meant that 64% of the students enrolled in those courses failed. In the fall of 2001, the first semester of the redesign, the success rates rose to more than 60%. Passing rates continued to increase, and have been as high as 78% in some semesters. Although success rates fluctuate between semesters, they have continued to remain above pre-redesign passing rates. UA now teaches all introductory math courses in the Math Technology Learning Center (MTLC) including beginning algebra, intermediate algebra, precalculus algebra, precalculus trigonometry, trigonometry and beginning calculus. “The MTLC supports student learning by giving them flexibility in how they progress through course material, immediate feedback and assistance, and one-on-one tutorials, “said Dr. Robert Olin, dean of the College. “The MTLC is designed to remove obstacles to success in math.” Students take their courses on a computer in the MTLC or online. Computer-based lessons demonstrate math concepts to students who then take diagnostic quizzes to test their learning. The hallmark of this model is that it allows students to progress through the course material at their own pace and supports them with faculty interaction and tutoring sessions. Today, more than 6,000 students annually use the MTLC. To read about the initial redesign of Intermediate Algebra, see Congratulations, UA!

Australian Universities Prepare Final Course Redesign Proposals

With final proposals due February 8, 2012, teams at James Cook University and the Australian Catholic University are working on their plans for course redesign, as part of the Australian Course Redesign Initiative sponsored by the L.H. Martin Institute and the Australian Teaching and Learning Council. These two institutions are part of a pilot program to test the applicability of NCAT’s redesign principles in Australia. Although some of the likely proposals will focus on introductory level studies, most will propose redesigning advanced-level courses, differing from the usual choices in the United States. Several of the Australian courses are offered at multiple locations, each with significant differences in both course content and delivery approaches in the traditional format. The April 2012 issue of The Learning MarketSpace will provide more detail about those projects that are selected as finalists in the program. To learn more about this initiative, see or contact Peter Bentley at

Thailand Visit Postponed due to Flooding

As we reported in the October 2011 issue of The Learning MarketSpace, Carol Twigg and Carolyn Jarmon were scheduled to visit Bangkok, Thailand in November, 2011, to provide two seminars. The first was designed for Thai university vice-presidents, deans, professors, and policy makers to learn about new developments in course redesign and the second for university practitioners who would be directly engaged in a course redesign project. The visit was based on an invitation from the Knowledge Network Institute of Thailand (KNIT), a not-for-profit agency created in 2003 by the Thai Ministry of Education to promote reform in the Thai higher education sector. As many of you are aware from newspaper reports, much of Thailand, including Bangkok, experienced massive flooding in the early fall. Consequently, these seminars have been postponed until November 2012, providing time for Thailand to recover from the widespread damage.


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

Changing the Equation Institutions Fully Implement Their Redesigns

The community colleges participating in Changing the Equation have completed the first term of their fully implemented developmental math redesigns using modularization and the Emporium Model. The institutions are preparing their final reports, including an analysis of comparative learning outcome data, course completion data and cost reduction data. Two final workshops will be held for this program. The first will occur on March 29, 2012 in Dallas, TX, and the second on August 8, 2012. Redesigning the entire sequence of developmental courses for all students is quite complicated, especially at large institutions. As reported in the October 2011 issue of The Learning MarketSpace, some institutions encountered one or more significant start-up issues during their pilot terms, such as prior rampant grade inflation, lack of assessment experience and the need to combine courses because of content repetition. Others had already tackled some of these issues and were further along the redesign process when they started. Based on these differences, NCAT decided to offer the participants a choice of when to submit their final reports. About one-third of the institutions have elected to collect one more term (spring 2012) of data prior to filing their final project reports and will have their final workshop in August. The other two-thirds of the institutions have elected to report at the final workshop in March as was originally scheduled for the program. The final results for the full program will be available on the NCAT website in fall 2012. To learn more about Changing the Equation, see


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

Missouri Institutions Begin Course Redesign Pilots

After a busy fall term preparing for course redesign, the 13 project teams participating in the Missouri Course Redesign Initiative are well into their pilot term. Participating institutions along with the course(s) they are redesigning are: Lincoln University: Basic English; Missouri Southern State University: Oral Communication; Missouri State University: Psychology; Missouri University of Science and Technology: Chemistry I; Missouri Western State University: Introduction to Business; Northwest Missouri State University: Principles of Management; Southeast Missouri State University: College Algebra and Spanish I; Truman State University: Health and Fitness; University of Central Missouri: Human Anatomy and Intermediate Algebra; University of Missouri-Kansas City: College Algebra; and University of Missouri-St. Louis: Information Systems. The teams will report on their pilot findings at a workshop on June 20, 2012 to be held in Columbia, MO. To learn more about these projects, see

Building on the system-wide course redesign initiative, these 13 teams are also part of a New Generation Learning Challenge (NGLC) grant awarded to the University of Missouri System. This grant project focuses on cross-institutional collaboration and system-wide exchanges based on the diverse group of courses listed above. Two members of the Missouri System will join representatives from the other 28 grant awardees from NGLC’s Wave I at the first face-to-face convening session on February 12, 2012, in Austin, TX. Part of the session will be devoted to refining explanations or “elevator speeches” that can be used to share ideas on scaling and sustainability with others in their institution. For the University of Missouri System, these brief introductions will also be used across the state to acquaint others who teach similar courses about the successful course redesigns that have occurred. To learn more, see

Missouri University of Science and Technology Creates a Chemistry Buffet

As many long-time readers of The Learning MarketSpace know, The Ohio State University invented the Buffet Model of course redesign as part of the Program in Course Redesign funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts.  While a few other institutions have offered less robust versions of this model, Missouri University of Science and Technology (MST) is currently using a full-blown version in its redesign of Chemistry I. A recent interview conducted by a representative of MST’s Center for Educational Research and Teaching Innovation with Klaus Woelk, interim chair of the chemistry department at MST and Emma Satterfield, a chemistry lecturer, includes a lot of concrete information about how the students will experience the Buffet Model. Also provided are some clear examples of how different students can take different paths to learn the same course content while still taking the same final exam to document their mastery of the material. The redesign of Chem I is part of the Missouri Course Redesign Initiative established by the Governor of Missouri and Missouri’s public four-year institutions. To read the full interview, see


Providing assestance to the higher education community as they engage in course redesign.

Redesign Scholars Lead Redesign Expansion on Their Home Campuses

We are frequently asked whether redesigns in one academic area spread to other academic areas on campus.  The answer is most definitely yes!

At Frostburg State University in Maryland, Megan Bradley, a Redesign Scholar who led the redesign of General Psychology as part of the Maryland Course Redesign Initiative, is now leading the redesign of Developmental Math using the Emporium Model. The results thus far have been extremely encouraging. The primary goal of the redesign was to reduce a gender achievement gap in developmental math. DFW rates in the traditional format of the course were 44% (males), 35% (females) and 41% (overall), a statistically significant difference. In fall 2011, after the redesign was fully implemented, the DFW rates were 19.7% (males), 21.3% (females) and 20.3% (overall) for students who were taking the course for the first time. The gender differences were not statistically significant. For all students taking the redesigned course, some of whom were repeating the course, the DWF rates were 18.9% (males), 20.5% (females) and 19.5% (overall). Again, the gender differences were not statistically significant. Way to go, Frostburg team! To learn more, contact Megan Bradley at

At Austin Peay State University (APSU), the initial course redesign focused on developmental math, using the Linked Workshop Model, as part of the Tennessee Board of Regents Developmental Studies Initiative. This model allowed APSU to stop offering stand-alone developmental math courses and link developmental math instruction with two college-level math courses, Fundamentals of Math and Elementary Statistics, using just-in-time supplemental workshops. Now APSU has used the same approach to link developmental reading with a college-level history course. As in the math redesign model, students work on their reading skills in just-in-time workshops linked to the content of the history course. The results have been very gratifying. Of the students taking the linked courses in fall 2011, 90% successfully completed (grade of C or better) the college-level history course. In fall 2010, the last semester that developmental reading was offered at APSU, 75% of students earned a grade of C or better in the developmental reading course, and 69% did so in the history course. APSU is now piloting the Linked Workshop Model in psychology, linked to just-in-time workshops in developmental reading. Nice work, APSU!  To learn more, contact Redesign Scholar Martin Golson at

At Buffalo State College (BSC), the initial course redesign was The Economic System as part of a partnership between NCAT and the State University of New York. The economics department is now working on the redesign of Principles of Macroeconomics and Principles of Microeconomics led by the team that was part of the first redesign. Redesign Scholar Bill Ganley also shared the outcomes of the first redesign with the New York State Economics Association at their annual conference on September 24, 2011, in Rochester, NY; a paper has been submitted to the organization for inclusion in its annual proceedings to be published in spring, 2012. To learn more, contact Bill Ganley at

Redesign Scholars Serve as a Resource to Higher Education

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, providing opportunities to visit the home campuses of Redesign Scholars is an important service offered to the higher education community. The University of Alabama (UA) has hosted five visiting campus teams during fall 2011. Visitors are able to tour the highly successful Math Technology Learning Center (MTLC) as well as meet with the faculty and staff who work in the lab to learn how the redesign got started and how it has evolved over the past decade. Visits to campus that have conducted successful redesign projects are often pivotal in helping institutions that are just beginning a redesign. They can experience what is involved in the redesign and how it actually works. Redesign Scholars also provide extensive telephone and email help to institutions that are just getting started. Jamie Glass from UA also reports that five additional campuses have recently sought assistance as they prepare to redesign their math learning environments. To learn more, contact Jamie Glass at

Redesign Scholars continue to provide their expertise to others in higher education through presentations at state and national workshops, seminars and conferences. For example, John Squires, chair of the math department at Chattanooga State Community College, recently conducted a workshop for the Colorado Community Colleges on course redesign in developmental math; he also conducted a session on math redesign at the Education Trust National Conference in Washington, DC in late 2011.

NCAT plans to expand its Redesign Scholars Program.  As Changing the Equation concludes later this year, we anticipate adding additional Scholars who are knowledgeable about redesigning developmental math and will be available to assist other higher education institutions seeking to replicate their success. Similarly, when the projects in the Missouri Course Redesign Initiative conclude in early in 2013, additional Redesign Scholars in multiple disciplines will be identified and invited to share their expertise. To learn more about the Redesign Scholars Program and how to apply, see


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


Getting Started Seminar Scheduled for February 3, 2012 in Baltimore

The first seminar offered by NCAT in 2012 is Getting Started on Course Redesign. Co-sponsored by the University System of Maryland, the February 3rd seminar is designed for those who are thinking about beginning a redesign project. To be held at the Tech Center of University of Maryland, Baltimore County, the seminar will provide participants the opportunity to learn about how redesign efforts have begun at both two - and four-year institutions and how these initial redesigns have spread to other departments on campus and/or throughout a university system. 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. Eileen O’Brien from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County will describe their redesign of General Psychology.  Karen Wyrick from Cleveland State Community College in Tennessee will provide an overview of their team’s redesign of all developmental math courses. Participants will interact with those who have successfully launched a redesign and learn about the issues they faced and how they resolved problems that arose. This event is open to the higher education community, and registration has reached capacity at 80 participants.

Registration is Open for Three Spring Math Redesign Workshops

NCAT will offer three workshops on Increasing Student Success in Developmental and College-Level Math during spring 2012. The dates and locations will be:

  • February 24, 2012 in Orlando, FL at the University of Central Florida
  • March 29, 2012 in Dallas, TX at the Marriott Las Colinas
  • April 20, 2012 in St. Louis, MO at the University of Missouri–St. Louis

Many institutions face the problem of growing numbers of low student success rates in both developmental and college-level math courses. NCAT has 12 years of experience in conducting large-scale course redesign programs that improve learning while reducing costs. Math redesigns at NCAT partner institutions (both two-year and four-year) have

  • increased the percentage of students successfully completing a developmental math course by 51% on average (ranging from 10% to 135%), while reducing the cost of instruction by 30% on average (ranging from 12% to 52%), and
  • increased the percentage of students successfully completing a college-level math course by 25% on average (ranging from 7% to 63%), while reducing the cost of instruction by 37% on average (ranging from 15% to 77%)

The pedagogical techniques leading to greater student success are equally applicable to both developmental and college-level mathematics. The underlying principle is simple: Students learn math by doing math, not by listening to someone talk about doing math. Interactive computer software combined with personalized, on-demand assistance and mandatory student participation are the key elements of success. NCAT calls this model for success, the Emporium Model, named after what the model’s originator, Virginia Tech, called its initial course redesign. These workshops are designed for those who want to learn more about the Emporium Model and its successful implementation across the U.S. in both developmental and college-level math.

NCAT’s Carolyn Jarmon will begin each workshop with an overview of what NCAT has learned about what works best in redesigning mathematics. Two Redesign Scholars representing two- and four-year institutions will then share 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. The February 24th workshop will feature Betty Frost from Jackson State Community College and Tammy Muhs from the University of Central Florida (UCF). A tour of the UCF mathematics lab will also be part of the workshop. The March 29th workshop will feature Jamie Glass from the University of Alabama and Karen Wyrick from Cleveland State Community College, who will share their experiences working with students at their home campuses and with faculty and staff at other institutions. The April 20th workshop will feature Shahla Peterman from the University of Missouri St. Louis (USML) and a faculty project leader from one of the community colleges that is part of the Changing the Equation program. A tour of the UMSL math learning lab will also be included. Each workshop will offer participants the opportunity to interact with the speakers as well as to share their ideas and experiences about redesigning math. Each event will also feature exhibits by corporate members of the Redesign Alliance who offer products and services that can be used in redesigning college-level and developmental math.

The registration fees, which cover lunch and breaks, are $100 for Redesign Alliance members and $150 for attendees whose institutions and companies are not members of the Alliance. To view the full agendas for each workshop, the registration information and directions to the site, follow the appropriate workshop link from the NCAT homepage ( Please note that registration for each workshop is limited.

Members’ Colloquium held December 9, 2011 in Tampa, FL

On December 9, 2011, members of the Redesign Alliance gathered at the University of South Florida in Tampa, FL for a Members’ Colloquium. Open only to members of the Redesign Alliance, this event moved beyond discussions of how to get started on course redesign and instead concentrated on what comes next. Member institutions provided examples of how they have sustained their initial redesigns and scaled redesign beyond a single course, including the challenges each faced in so doing. Examples included campus-wide redesign programs supported by a combination of federal grants and internal funding and organized via a Request for Proposals process. The University System of Maryland has created a group of Redesign Fellows, modeled after NCAT’s Redesign Scholar program, who work with other institutions in the state seeking to redesign their courses. These Fellows have also worked within their own institutions to broaden the positive impact of course redesign. Ideas discussed during the Colloquium will, over the next two years, contribute to a new NCAT effort to establish “cookbooks” or “how to do it” manuals for institutions new to redesign and for those who seek to sustain and scale their initial efforts. For more information about the Redesign Alliance, see


NCAT Welcomes Its Newest $10,000 Member: Penn Highlands Community College

In January 2012, Penn Highlands Community College (PHCC) in Pennsylvania joined the Redesign Alliance at the $10,000 level. PHCC has received a Title III Grant to improve institutional retention and student persistence. The college is also seeking greater realignment of curriculum for transfer students. Working with NCAT was built into their Title III application, and PHCC will focus on the power of course redesign to help them achieve their goals. Carolyn Jarmon will visit the PHCC campus in May 2012. To learn more about the PHCC initiative, contact Erica Reighard at

$10,000 Redesign Alliance Members Move Forward in Redesign Planning

Amarillo College (AC) is moving forward with the pilot redesign of English Composition I and II during spring 2012. About one-third of the sections offered will be part of the pilot, after which AC will evaluate the results and make decisions about how to continue the redesign. After working with Sally Search, a Redesign Scholar from Tallahassee Community College, a team of 11 English instructors established a menu of options for required essays, which will be used in all of the pilot sections. This effort is part of a U.S. Department of Education Title V Grant awarded to AC with a focus on increasing student success in general education courses. Over the next four years, AC will redesign additional courses in math, history and biology based on NCAT’s proven models, all with an eye to increasing student success. During spring 2012, AC’s math department will begin planning the redesign of College Algebra and Intermediate Algebra to be piloted in fall 2012. To learn more, contact Cara Crowley at

The Arkansas Association of Two-Year Colleges (AATYC) has received two grants focused on improving developmental education. In December 2011, AATYC received a $650,000 grant from the Kresge Foundation to support student success efforts which includes developmental education faculty training, evaluation of pilot programs and improvement of data and research capacities at two-year colleges. All two-year colleges in the state are collaborative partners. Also, in partnership with NorthWest Arkansas Community College, AATYC recently received a $14.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to fund the Pathways to Accelerated Completion and Employment (PACE) program. The PACE grant supports the redesign of developmental education courses at every two-year college in Arkansas to accelerate student completion. NCAT Scholars, Karen Wyrick from Cleveland State Community College and Betty Frost from Jackson State Community College, are working with AAYTC and the Arkansas community colleges to redesign developmental math using the Emporium Model as part of these efforts. To learn more, contact Mike Leach at

Multiple teams at the University of South Florida (USF) are engaged in course redesign after an internal selection process held last year. The redesign of Integrated Biology, an entry-level course, is focusing on engaging students with online learning activities prior to the wet lab experience. One hour of face-to-face lab time has been shifted to online activities so that students are better prepared when they arrive in the lab. The team has also developed a series of online modules to help students whose backgrounds need strengthening in order to be fully prepared for the course. USF is also redesigning Oral Communication during spring 2012 using Articulate Presenter software and LearnSmart from McGraw-Hill. USF continues to work with interested departments to expand their initial efforts in course redesigns. To learn more, contact Diane Williams at

At the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA), the math department is in the very early stages of forming a team and planning a redesign. They have visited other campuses, including the University of Alabama, and will be focused on learning from other successful examples available as they plan. UTA expects to have representatives at NCAT’s math workshop in Dallas on March 29, 2012, to learn from successful project leaders at that session. To learn more, contact Pam Jansma at

Course Redesign Track To Be Offered at Pearson’s CiTE Meeting

On April 10 -13, 2012, Pearson will host the 2012 CiTE Conference in Orlando, Fl. The theme of the conference is Create, Innovate, Collaborate; last year this conference attracted more than 500 higher education administrators and faculty. Designed for those interested in improving student learning and reducing instructional costs, one of the six tracks at the conference will feature course redesign. Carolyn Jarmon, NCAT vice president, will deliver a featured presentation focused on these topics. In addition, the track will include presentations by five project leaders who have successfully implemented redesigns in a variety of academic areas; they will describe their particular redesigns including the impact of the redesigns on student learning outcomes. Then all presenters will participate in a panel discussion to illustrate multiple ways to implement redesigns successfully. Panel members include Klaus Woelk, who is leading a team to redesign Chemistry I at the Missouri Science and Technology University and Teresa Overton, one of the team members responsible for the redesign of developmental math at Northern Virginia Community College.  To learn more about this meeting, contact Karen Mullane at


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

Orangeburg Calhoun Technical College Redesigns Developmental Math

While not part of a formal NCAT redesign program, Orangeburg Calhoun Technical College (OCTC) in South Carolina has redesigned their prealgebra courses (Developmental Math I and II) using the Emporium Model.  Prior to the redesign, the success rate (grades of A, B, or C) for those courses was about 50%. After piloting three sections in summer 2011 to test both the computers and the software, OCTC moved all 408 enrolled students to the redesigned format in fall 2011. Although all the data have not been fully evaluated, the DFW rate has been cut in half and 11 students completed the courses early and were able to begin the next course during the same semester. What is also striking about OCTC’s implementation is that they have had no student complaints about the changed format! Each instructor introduced the redesign very positively on the first day of class, and not a single student tried to drop the course.

Students are required to meet in class for three hours each week with their instructor, but if students get ahead of the rest of the class, they can miss classes without penalty. OCTC knew from the summer pilot that if students attended all classes and did their work, they could finish without having to do any work outside of class. The College has converted three adjoining classrooms into a large math lab with 94 computers and can run four classes at a time. The new lab opened in January. There are also extra seats that can be used by students who want to stay after class to continue to work. In addition, those students taking an online version of the course are invited to use the lab and get help if they choose to do so. During spring 2012, OCTC has opened sections of College Algebra and Finite Math in the redesigned model. These have proven to be quite popular, and OCTC expects to expand to more sections in the fall. To learn more, contact Debra Johnsen at Congratulations, OCTC!

Controlling Costs, Upping Graduation Rates Are Top Priorities for College Trustees

Funded by Lumina Foundation for Education, a new Public Agenda report, "Still on the Sidelines: What Role Will Trustees Play in Higher Education Reform?," summarizes the results of intensive interviews with 39 public and private college and university trustees. Controlling costs and increasing graduation rates rank as top priorities among those responding. How to achieve those goals and what role trustees should play, however, varies. Public Agenda’s analysis suggests that there are two types of trustees with distinct notions about what their roles should be and how they should act to help higher education systems respond to their challenges: those who constitute the majority and view their role as an advisory one and a small minority who sees the function of existing boards as part of the problem in higher education. The majority feels they should support their chancellors and presidents rather than challenge them.  The minority is calling for much broader reforms in higher education. In contrast to the majority, who are at the moment primarily concerned with protecting existing programs, these trustees want to experiment with and expand into new modes of education delivery. They are responding not only to rising costs and cutbacks in state support but to what they perceive as fundamental flaws in the structure of higher education. The differences between these two groups of trustees were largely a matter of emphasis--most would probably concede that there is some truth to both perspectives. Perhaps surprisingly, researchers also found that most trustees seemed largely unfamiliar with some of the more fundamental debates of the higher education policy community, including the concept of productivity, an idea that has gained traction among state and national policymakers and experts in recent years. Founded in 1975 by social scientist and author Daniel Yankelovich and former Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, Public Agenda is a nonprofit organization that  works to help communities and the nation solve tough problems by helping leaders and other change agents better understand and more effectively engage citizens and stakeholders. To read the full report, see


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