Announcing 2019 WOW Award Winners

WCET Announces the 2019 WCET Outstanding Work Award Winners

WCET is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2019 WCET Outstanding Work awards: the Colorado Department of Higher Education’s OER Council, Granite State College, and Rio Salado College.

Contact: Lindsey Downs, Assistant Director of Communications, Community, and Social Media, WCET

Boulder, CO – Since 2004, WCET (the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies) has presented the WCET Outstanding Work (WOW) award to colleges, universities, and organizations who implement exceptionally creative, technology-based solutions to contemporary challenges in higher education. The WOW awards help WCET meet its mission of promoting innovative and effective practice by providing exemplary programs as models for the higher education community to adapt for their own students and faculty.

The three 2019 WOW award recipients have all implemented solutions in areas shown to have an impact on student success.

  • Colorado Department of Higher Education OER Council: OER Grant Program
  • Granite State College: Distance-Based Teacher Preparation
  • Rio Salado College: Dynamic Assessment Data Display

“This year, like every year, judging the submissions for the WOW awards was a challenge.” Said Kara Monroe, the Provost and Senior Vice President of Ivy Tech Community College and the Chair of this year’s WOW Committee. “All of the submissions were outstanding. The selected recipients represent a set of proposals that highlight true innovation in higher education and a commitment to student success.”

The WOW awardees will be recognized by WCET’s community of higher education innovators during the 2019 WCET Annual Meeting, November 5th through the 7th in Denver, CO.

The 2019 WOW Award winners:

Colorado Department of Higher Education OER Council: OER Grant Program

In Colorado today, more than 60 percent of students enrolled at public institutions graduate with debt. In order to address this issue, the State identified affordability, cost containment, and innovation as strategic goals. In 2017, the legislature created the Open Educational Resources (OER) Council to develop a foundation for institutions to leverage state resources and resident experts in pursuit of these goals. The outreach and grant initiatives the council has developed serve on‑campus and online learners, as well as instructors and faculty who pursue innovative practices in teaching and learning.

The OER Council administers a statewide OER grant program, advises on OER policy, and fosters innovative OER practices at institutions across the state. Although in its early stages, the OER Council has already had a positive impact on Colorado and its postsecondary students. An OER study formed the groundwork for substantial legislative support; robust goals and a solid evaluation plan are shaping statewide outreach, events, and the grant program, and the work has inspired campus investments. The preliminary OER Council conducted a statewide OER awareness survey to inform recommendations for moving forward with a statewide OER initiative. Key goals and outcomes identified both by the OER Council and the Department include a positive return on the state’s investment of financial resources, including saving students money on course material costs, and adoption in high‑enrollment, high-cost, and gateway courses, or those with high drop/fail/withdraw rates. The work of the Colorado OER Council is a significant contribution to the field of technology‑enhanced higher education practice because its story is a true lesson in using civic engagement to innovate with OER. The work demonstrates the power of the community and what can be accomplished when an organized group of professionals enters into a project with determination, conviction, and sound data. The Colorado OER Council’s contribution is of historic significance to the state‑‑it represents a pivotal moment, when education technology’s impact and potential for addressing specific issues such as affordability sets a precedent for higher education policy makers’ approaches to advocating for state financial resources in trying times.

Press Contact: Megan McDermott

Granite State College: Distance-Based Teacher Preparation

The critical need for teachers, especially in rural areas of New Hampshire, motivated Granite State College to develop a new type of teacher certification program. Through the use of technology, the college delivers distance-based teaching programs to serve the needs of all types of students for whom traditional programs are not an option, whether due to other responsibilities or access. The courses are completely online, continuously updated, and utilize Open Educational Resources (OER) whenever possible, with a goal of using OER for all materials by 2021. The program has also created a model for distance-based observation opportunities in order to better prepare students for future classroom work. The observation of field-based clinical experiences is supported using technology to capture video or to provide synchronous remote-based observation opportunities for teacher candidates in geographic areas beyond the reach of faculty. These remote observations are predominantly conducted in rural areas, providing educator pathways for rural educators that might not otherwise have viable options for pursuing certification.

The goals of the new program were to create quality online experiences and ensure placement numbers that equal or exceed traditional programs. Granite State College graduates have exceeded the average pass rate in New Hampshire consistently since 2012. 97% of former students are placed in school districts as educators. Just as online education once struggled to be recognized as quality higher education, the use of technology-enhanced field observations in teacher preparation is slowly gaining acceptance. Granite State College’s pass rates and placement rates, as well as program approval by the New Hampshire Department of Education and accreditation of our technology-enhanced programs by TEAC, attest to the success of Granite State’s model. With the focus on program offerings in critical shortage areas, the college is meeting a specific State need for educators. This program has allowed individuals to pursue teacher certification and to become exemplar teachers within and beyond New Hampshire’s borders. Teachers have also become more familiar and open to the use of technology in their classrooms and have learned the value of OER to their professional practices. Most important is the focus on quality, accessibility, and affordability and the ability of the program to reach students in all corners of the state.

Press Contact: Jacqui Lantagne

Rio Salado College: Dynamic Assessment Data Display

Institutions of higher education often struggle with the need to document student learning outcomes, especially at the individual student level, not only to meet regulatory requirements, but also to identify achievement gaps and inform curricular improvements. With the goal of demonstrating transparency and accountability in assessment practices, Rio Salado College created the Dynamic Assessment Data Display, or DADD. The DADD puts critical data directly into the hands of the faculty. Instead of relying on guesswork or anecdotal feedback from a handful of students, faculty can use performance data from all students to make informed decisions on instructional interventions. On-demand access means that faculty can quickly check the effectiveness of interventions, thus shortening the time to complete each improvement cycle. The institution, in turn, can report on student achievement of the college-wide learning outcomes via assignments across the curriculum that have been tagged with one or more of the college-wide learning outcomes.

Just under 900,000 online subjective assessment items were assessed by Rio faculty over the 2017-18 academic year. Over half of these subjective items (452,000) were directly linked to one or more college-wide student learning outcomes in the DADD. The data show that just over 80% of students performed at a college level in the areas of Critical Thinking, Information Literacy, Reading, and Writing. A web-based dashboard was developed to ensure the usability and portability of the DADD. The technology was specifically developed to support teaching and learning without putting limitations on assessment practices, so faculty remain free to determine how to assess the learning in their own classroom. Faculty can easily identify equity gaps in assessment performance and implement interventions specifically designed to narrow these gaps for high-risk and underrepresented populations.

As a community college with an open-enrollment policy, Rio is committed to providing a high-quality education to any student who applies. The DADD has contributed to significant increases in student learning among underserved and underrepresented populations. By conducting assessment at a college-wide scale, and incorporating the DADD, Rio is better able to achieve its mission to reinvent the learning experience to change students’ lives.

Press Contact: Annette Flores