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22st Annual OLC International Conference
November 16-18, 2016 | Orlando, Florida | Walt Disney World Swan/Dolphin Resort

OLC Innovate 2016 - Innovations in Blended and Online Learning
April 20-22, 2016 | New Orleans, LA | Sheraton New Orleans Hotel

Accelerating College Readiness Using Blended Learning in Dual-Credit Courses: UT Austin's OnRamps

Julie Schell (Harvard University, USA)
Additional Authors
Megan Parry (University of Texas at Austin, USA)
Session Information
July 8, 2014 - 4:30pm
Blended Models and Course Design
Areas of Special Interest: 
Innovative Blends
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Innovation and Experimentation
Institutional Level: 
Multiple Levels
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Information Session
Governor's Square 11
Session Duration: 
50 Minutes
Information Session 3

The University of Texas at Austin is using an innovative blended learning model to offer university-level dual credit courses.

Extended Abstract

The University of Texas at Austin is spearheading innovative blended-learning models that do not fit neatly into existing taxonomies. Through a signature initiative called OnRamps, we have developed dual-credit courses designed for blended delivery in four subjects: English Language Arts, Computer Science, Mathematics, and Statistics. The mission of OnRamps is to increase the number and diversity of students who experience rigorous, college-level coursework aligned with the expectations of a leading research university.

OnRamps is unique in six primary ways: rigorous content; blended approach; pedagogy; university engagement, and robust professional development as described in Table 1. Our blended-learning model fits most closely, but not exactly, with the Flipped Classroom, Rotational Model classification by the Clayton Christenson Institute (Staker H, & Horn, M. (2012). Classifying K-12 Blended Learning," Innosight Institute). They define this model as one in which the "rotation occurs between the school for face-to-face teacher-guided practice (or projects) and the home or other off-site location for online content and instruction." In our blended model, content can be delivered synchronously or asynchronously, online or face-to-face, in or out of class.

OnRamps Features
-UT Austin Curriculum: OnRamps content, including assessments, was developed for college-level rigor by faculty at a leading research university.

-Dual-Credit: Students have the opportunity to earn college credit at UT Austin or another accredited institution. Each OnRamps course is aligned with state college readiness standards to ensure college readiness relative to content and cross-disciplinary skills.

-Blended Approach: Content can be delivered synchronously or asynchronously, online or face-to-face, in or out of class.

-Pedagogy: Each course features one research-based pedagogy that structures formal class time, including project-based learning, discovery learning, and flipped learning.

-UT Austin Departmental Engagement: To ensure OnRamps content and pedagogy are aligned with the expectations of research universities, OnRamps facilitates partnerships with UT Austin subject-matter experts. Each course has a dedicated Faculty Lead, Course Coordinator, and Instructor of Record employed by the academic unit of the OnRamps course subject area.

-Robust Professional Development: To prepare instructors to teach rigorous, dual-credit courses, OnRamps offers a robust professional development approach that includes summer institutes and ongoing training and support.

Rationale: In the State of Texas, only 25% of high school students who enroll in higher education earn a degree in 4 years. The University of Texas at Austin is exploring the intersection of two promising practices to improve college competitiveness, persistence, and completion among high school and community college students with its OnRamps initiative.

The first promising practice is dual-credit. Research completed by Jobs for the Future in 2012 (Struhl & Vargas, 2012) demonstrates that students who take a single dual-credit class while in high school are twice as likely to enroll in higher education and nearly twice as likely to complete a degree in 6 years. This is true regardless of course quality or delivery method.

The second promising practice is blended learning. Preliminary data from The University of Texas at Austin shows that large gateway courses that have been redesigned using blended learning are improving student performance. The rates of students in STEM gateway courses—like Chemistry and Biology—who earn a D, an F, or quit the course have decreased since those courses have incorporated a blended learning. UT-Austin's OnRamps initiative is designed to leverage the power of dual credit by incorporating blended learning to further accelerate student success in college.

The goal of this presentation is to share a successful blended learning, dual-credit model led by a major research university. Participants will leave the presentation with an understanding of how our model differentiates from existing blended learning models and with a blueprint for developing rigorous, dual-credit blended-learning initiatives at their institutions.