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Grant to Improve College Readiness and Completion

April 14, 2011
Education
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            Anne Arundel Community College plans to help students improve college readiness and complete their academic goals through "Open Learning: Bridge to Success," an initiative funded by a $750,000 Next Generation Learning Challenge (NGLC) grant.

            The college will work with partner institutions to design online content that students can use to master gaps in their math ability so that they can move into college-level courses and toward completing a certificate or associate degree. Helping students achieve their educational goals

is the driving force of AACC's Student Success 2020 initiative, which aims to double the number of AACC certificates, degrees or workforce credentials awarded by the year 2020.

            "This grant offered us an avenue to boost students' math abilities, one of the barriers our college has identified to students' completing a certificate or degree. Breaking down those barriers is just one of our strategies toward reaching the goals in our Student Success 2020 initiative," said AACC President Martha A. Smith, Ph.D.

            Nationwide, about 60 percent of first-year-college (Bailey, T. & Cho, S-W. 2010. Developmental Education in Community Colleges. Issue Brief prepared for: The White House Summit on Community College, September 2010) students are required to take at least one development course before they can begin taking college-level courses, according to "Developmental Education in Community Colleges," an issue brief prepared in fall 2010 for the White House Summit on Community Colleges. At AACC, 67 percent of the fall 2009 students (2,663) had at least one developmental requirement, and 98 percent of those students were required to take developmental math.

            Led by The Open University, an institution based in England that offers open access to online higher education courses, the partnership includes AACC, the University of Maryland University College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In addition, AACC will share the curriculum and training with other community colleges, both in state and through the Global Corporate College, which delivers services in 38 states and nine countries.

             "Open Learning: Bridge to Success" will begin in fall 2011. Jean M. Runyon, dean of AACC's virtual campus, said the project will use materials from The Open University's Open Educational Resources (OERs). While the open access makes delivery of the classes easy to use, another attraction is that OERs offers courses on specific topics, such as arithmetic, fractions or pre-algebra. Under this format, students will take courses to master only the skills that a prior assessment shows they lack.

            AACC and partner institutions will develop new content and modify existing content to more closely match needs of community college students, as well as work with faculty to utilize OERs and to share best teaching practices. "Open Learning: Bridge to Success" will use open access to high quality educational materials to increase the number and diversity of adults who are prepared not only to enroll in community colleges but to be successful in their pursuit of a degree, certificate or professional certification and in chosen careers, Runyon said.

            NGLC is led by EDUCAUSE in partnership with The League for Innovation in the Community College, the International Association of K-12 Online Learning and the Council of Chief State School Officers. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation helped design the Next Generation Learning Challenges and fund the initiative.

For information about the project, contact Runyon, 410-777-1249 or jmrunyon@aacc.edu.