Initiatives: Leading Academic Change

The Kirwan Center plays a critical role in bringing together leaders in academic change from across the system and across the country to collaborate, share ideas and best practices, and build capacity to guide academic transformation.

In 2014, the Kirwan Center convened the first national Leading Academic Change Summit, bringing together 60 academic innovation leaders representing public and private universities, colleges, and state systems offices. During the two-day conference, participants shared insights into how people learn and how that knowledge can be combined with emerging technologies to transform and improve the student experience. Additionally, in 2015, the Kirwan Center released a market scan of postsecondary academic innovation centers across the country.

Most recently, the Kirwan Center has been focused on supporting academic change within the University System of Maryland through the USM OnTrack initiative. The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically shifted how courses and programs are being offered and how faculty and students are engaging in teaching and learning. Moreover, the pandemic is likely to have a far-reaching impact on student mobility and institutional operations going forward. To be prepared for the fall 2020 semester as well as the post-COVID-19 world, USM institutions must adapt both their technology infrastructure use and teaching methods to produce optimally effective learning environments—whether online, face-to-face, or some combination of both. The Kirwan Center and University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) are partnering to help build institutional capacity to meet these needs. USM OnTrack is working with provosts, teaching and learning center directors, instructional designers, and academic technology professionals across USM institutions to support and assess the expansion of high-quality learning into fall 2020, with an eye toward sustaining and building upon these improvements into the future.

Our Work in Leading Academic Change

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August 17, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically shifted how courses and programs are being offered and how faculty and students are engaging in teaching and learning. Moreover, the pandemic is likely to have a far-reaching impact on student mobility and institutional operations going forward. To be prepared for the fall 2020 semester as well as the post-COVID-19 world, USM institutions must adapt both their technology infrastructure use and teaching methods to produce optimally effective learning environments—whether online, face-to-face, or some combination of both.

June 11, 2018

In spring 2018, members of the Kirwan Center’s Academic Transformation Advisory Council (ATAC) embarked on a project to conduct analyses of return on investment (ROI) on academic innovation efforts undertaken around the system. ATAC members are exploring ways to more effectively capture the impact of academic innovation, especially around ROI; applying an ROI lens in order to build a connection between student success, quality, and financial sustainability and examining how academic innovation contributes to all three; and using ROI data to help communicate about the work happening at each of the institutions and across the system around academic innovation.

October 27, 2015

Academic change is the term being used increasingly to describe universities’ efforts to improve student success by creating optimally effective learning environments that simultaneously increase access, affordability, and quality of higher education for all those who want a postsecondary degree. Institutions are starting to see the vast potential of hybrid classrooms, shared courseware initiatives, open educational resources, competency-based education, learning analytics, and adaptive learning environments and they are seeking ways to scale and sustain these innovations. Among the positive outcomes from these change efforts have been two interesting developments.

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