USM and Ithaka S+R Launch Rigorous Study of New Technologies' Impact on Student Performance
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Awards $1.4
Million to Ithaka S+R to Fund Project
Adelphi, Md. (Nov.
13, 2012) -- As universities explore the potential of online
education and other new technologies to improve student learning and graduation
rates while lowering costs, the University System of Maryland (USM) is
partnering with Ithaka S+R on a project to measure how well online learning
platforms are working. Ithaka S+R, the recipient of
a $1.4 million grant from the Gates Foundation, is a
nationally known higher education research and consulting group.
seek to accelerate the use of new learning technologies across higher
education. The USM will serve as a test bed for online or hybrid courses (those
that blend face-to-face instruction with online instruction) in a range of
subjects at campuses throughout the System.
"As a nation, if we have any hope of overcoming the
challenge of decreased public funding, with the resulting rise in the cost of
higher education, and still meet our obligation to produce more college
graduates, we must embrace interventions like highly interactive online
learning. These interventions hold out
real hope for improving learning outcomes and containing the growth in costs,"
said USM Chancellor William E. "Brit" Kirwan.
teaching technologies can deliver tangible cost savings, from engaging faculty
in the most efficient manner to ensuring more students are able to graduate and
complete their degree in less time.
focus of USM's partnership with Ithaka S+R will be a series of tests of online
learning methods. These tests will be conducted during the 2013 spring, summer
and fall terms. They will mostly be
side-by-side evaluations of learning outcomes, comparing traditionally taught
sections with hybrid or online-only sections in courses offered for
traditionally taught sections and hybrid sections using Coursera and possibly
other massive online open courses, or MOOCs, will take common final exams. This
methodology will allow the partnership to assess the effectiveness of the
different course delivery models. Students also will take surveys at the end of
a term to give feedback about their experience in the courses.
energized by the opportunity to be a central resource that is on the cutting
edge of these learning innovations, working with Ithaka S+R and our academic
colleagues within the System," said Joann Boughman, USM senior vice chancellor
for academic affairs.
Among its 11
campuses, USM includes the full range of institutional types that comprise
American higher education. This breadth of institutions includes historically
black universities, research universities, and the University of Maryland
University College-the nation's largest non-profit online university. Given the
System's strong record of experimenting with new teaching and learning
technologies, the USM provides an ideal testing platform for how an individual
campus can adopt advances in online learning.
the USM was the first university system in the nation to embrace the use of
technology and innovative educational techniques to redesign entire courses,
resulting in better learning outcomes and lower costs.
"An important next step is to go beyond individual
course redesign to consider online learning at the departmental and
institutional levels," said Deanna Marcum, Ithaka S+R Managing Director.
"Which online learning strategies will work in which circumstances? Can
costs be reduced while maintaining or bettering learning outcomes? How can
faculty interests and administrative interests be aligned? These are some of
the questions that we want to explore and share our findings with the broader
higher education community."
partnership with Ithaka S+R reflects the priorities of Powering Maryland Forward,
USM's strategic plan. One of the plan's
major strategic priorities is to transform the academic model with course
redesign strategies that help more students understand material, complete their
degrees, and become better-qualified to join the workforce.
Contact: Mike Lurie