WOW Media Release 2011

WCET Recognizes Outstanding Technology Projects that Promote Student Success in Higher Education

For Immediate Release
October 11, 2011
Contact: Mollie McGill
Deputy Director, WCET

Boulder, Colorado – The WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET) is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2011 WCET Outstanding Work (WOW) award, a competition that recognizes innovative uses of educational technologies in higher education. Since 2004 the WCET WOW award has been presented to higher education institutions and organizations for exceptionally creative, technology-based solutions to a significant problem or need. Twenty-three works were nominated by colleges and universities across the country this year, and three were named winners. Each of them addresses a critical goal related to student retention and completion, demonstrating an innovative solution to one specific aspect of overall student success. The issues addressed by 2011 WOW awardees include students who enter college with no plan for their educational goals nor a roadmap for how they might begin to create a plan; the need to promote awareness of and emotional resilience against suicide in college students; and keeping pace with student demands for engaging online courses that make appropriate use of social media and multimedia resources.

2011’s WOW Award recipients:

“Each of these three initiatives addresses a specific area of need that cuts across higher education institutions of all sizes and from all sectors–student ownership of their educational pathway and options, the critical need to pay more attention to the mental health stressors many college students face, and the need to provide faculty with as many tools as possible to offer engaging online courses that incorporate many of the learning tools that our students use inside and outside of the virtual classroom,” says Peg O’Brien, WOW award committee chair and director of extended programs for Dakota State University in South Dakota. “The WCET WOW award represents a great tribute to the work of the winning organizations and also serves as a meaningful way to disseminate exemplary practices to the higher education community. I encourage other institutions use these models and adapt them for their own students and faculty.”

The winning projects will be honored at the WCET Annual Conference on October 26-29 in Denver, and featured in a free webcast, “Achieving Innovation in Higher Education,” scheduled for October 17 at 1:00 pm MDT. The 2011 WOW awardees include:

Century College and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities

GPS LifePlan helps students achieve their educational, career, and personal goals by putting them in charge of creating intentional connections with their campus and making their own personal plans for tapping into a host of campus resources. The GPS (Goals + Plans = Success) LifePlan includes three key components; a one-stop website with links to resources and activities to help students develop their goals and plans related to career, education, finance, leadership, and personal development; the use of eFolio (an electronic portfolio) to track and reflect upon activities completed; and on-campus activities such as workshops and curriculum integration. The initial development of GPS LifePlan at Century College was spawned by the work of a collegewide task force, convened to address issues of poor student college readiness and the high number of students who tested into at least one developmental course.

The use of the GPS LifePlan has been infused into the work that educational professionals are already doing in the area of student success. Over 120 faculty members have integrated the program into their curriculum. With support from the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System, the program has been adopted by 18 colleges, one university, and three collaborative organizations. Through partnerships with the state’s National Guard, Veterans Affairs, Economic Development, and Education agencies, additional versions were created for the following audiences: military, workforce, and secondary students. Watch the video!

Michele Jersak
Counselor and GPS LifePlan Outreatch Coordinator
Century College

Kansas State University

University Life Cafe serves as the first interactive college website promoting the mental wellness and academic success of college students. Originally developed with a three-year grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the site features a gallery of user-submitted artwork, writing, and photography; a blog for students to identify and share similar experiences; and resources from a network of mental health professionals. The site is available for public view, with content contributed entirely by K-State student, faculty, and staff. It reaches all K-State campuses and the university’s distance-student community globally. These audiences total approximately 23,500 students and 4,000 faculty/staff. Google Analytics reports an international reach of site visits from 147 countries, translated into 71 languages. University Life Cafe now is sustained by the K-State Counseling Center.

This engaging, community-based approach for university counseling services met an urgent need to educate and empower the campus and larger community to recognize signs of risk for suicide and other mental health issues, providing a safe venue for students to express themselves and reach out to trained counseling staff. The American College Health Association reported that 9.8 percent of students have seriously considered committing suicide, and the American Psychological Association reported suicide as the second highest cause of death among college students. Since its launch in 2009, at least one K-State student used the site to express emotional distress and threat, resulting in a successful protective intervention by trained campus staff. The American College Personnel Association named University Life Cafe’ as one of the top innovations in college counseling for the 2009-2010 academic year. Watch the video!

Barbara Pearson
Director, University Life Cafe
Assistant Director, K-State Counseling Services
Kansas State University

Regis University

Passport to Course Development addresses the challenge faced by many institutions with rapidly growing enrollments in e-learning; providing adequate training and support for faculty, oftentimes adjunct faculty, who are new to the online environment. Using an avatar called Addie — an acronym for analyze, design, develop, implement, and evaluate — the Passport system guides faculty through the course development journey, complete with a colorful interactive world map that represents various design and development destinations and even includes a passport that gets stamped at every stop along the way. The course itinerary includes nine learning topics ranging from identifying learners and organizing content, to learning assessment, and finding additional resources.

The learning design team for the College of Professional Studies designed the Passport course to serve as an exemplary online resource with robust interactive components. Faculty can view and compare how different multimedia tools, such as games, learning agents, and simulations, reinforce specific learning objectives within a course. From its inception the Passport project was to be used as a “fun” support piece, providing course development information “just in time and just enough,” rather than presenting information as merely another training course. Watch the video!

Jane Johnson
Instructional Designer
Department of Learning Design
Regis Unviersity

The WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET) accelerates the adoption of effective practices and policies, advancing excellence in technology-enhanced teaching and learning in higher education.

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