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American Higher Education in Crises book cover

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OLC Excellence and Effective Practice Award Recipients Announced


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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

Showcasing Excellence And Innovation: Announcing A Faculty & Institutional Prize Competition For 2016

Kathleen Ives (Online Learning Consortium, USA)
Karen Pedersen (Online Learning Consortium, USA)
Jason Palmer (Gates Foundation, USA)
James Ptaszynski (Gates Foundation, USA)
Rahim Rajan (Gates Foundation, USA)
Session Information
October 16, 2015 - 9:30am
Leadership, Values and Society
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Practical Application
Institutional Level: 
Multiple Levels
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Featured Session
Southern Hemisphere II
Session Duration: 
45 Minutes
Concurrent Session 9
Virtual Session

The Online Learning Consortium (OLC) is pleased to announce a prize competition for individual faculty members and institutions for 2016 focusing on extending innovation and adoption of learning solutions using modern digital courseware. This session will provide key foundations concerning the ‘why’ of the prize competition, overview the faculty and institution excellence and innovation awards, showcase the role of the judges, as well as highlight next steps. For faculty members and institutional administrators, this is a ‘must attend’ session! 

Extended Abstract

Even with the emergence of new pedagogical models, the college completion gap has continued to widen. As the Indicators of Equity Report highlights (Cahalan and Perna, 2015), 77% of students from the wealthiest families currently earn bachelor’s degrees by age 24, in contrast to only 9% of students from the lowest-income families. In the last 35 years, the number of wealthy students obtaining bachelor’s degrees has grown dramatically (from 44% to 77%), but for low-income students it has only inched up three percentage points (from 6% to 9%). The next round of higher education innovation must close the gap in degree attainment.

The teaching and learning environment has changed significantly in recent years including significant progress in courseware adoption. Survey data collected from faculty members (Gates, B., Newman, A., Rajan, R., 2014; Tyton Partners, 2015), revealed relatively high levels of adoption of digital courseware among postsecondary faculty. Ninety six percent of respondents reported being aware or somewhat aware of digital courseware and how it can be used in a class, and 54% of respondents used digital courseware during the last academic year.

However, barriers still exist as awareness, adoption, and scale within and among institutions falls short of expectations. When faculty were asked whether they would recommend their courseware product to a friend or colleague at their own or another institution, only 15% reported that they are “very likely” to do. The majority of faculty users of digital courseware are actually detractors of their courseware.

Top barriers to adoption of courseware by faculty such as implementation time and instructional impacts of digital courseware, coupled with the still unproven learning benefits for students, makes further adoption of courseware a challenge.

The intent of this prize competition for faculty and institutions is to showcase exemplary practices and further efforts around learning solutions (i.e., modern courseware) in the broader digital learning domain to increase their adoption and extend innovation.

Cahalan, M., & Perna, L. (2015). Indicators of higher education equity in the United States. Available: http://www.pellinstitute.org/downloads/publications-Indicators_of_Higher_Education_Equity_in_the_US_45_Year_Trend_Report.pdf

Gates, B., Newman, A., Rajan, R. (October, 2014). Past, Present, and Future: The Marketplace for Digital Courseware in U.S. Higher Education. Paper presented by Education Growth Advisors.

Tyton Partners (2015): Time for Class: Lessons for the future of digital courseware in higher education. Retrieved from http://tytonpartners.com/library/time-for-class-lessons-for-the-future-of-digital-courseware-in-higher-education/

Lead Presenter
Kathleen IvesKathleen S. Ives, D.M. has worked in online technology for over 20 years and is currently the Online Learning Consortium's Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director where she oversees the organization's strategic direction. Dr. Ives assumes this leadership role after serving as interim CEO and Executive Director since October 2013. Additionally, she serves as faculty for the Institute for Emerging Leadership in Online Learning (sponsored by Penn State and OLC) and on the Leadership Advisory Board for the Center for Learning Innovations & Customized Knowledge Solutions (CLICKS). Formerly, Dr. Ives oversaw all forms of alternative instruction at Quinsigamond Community College in Worcester, MA (distance learning, accelerated programming). She serves as adjunct faculty for University of Phoenix, Denver-based American Sentinel University, and Bay State College in Boston. Dr. Ives began her career at CBS and helped to develop the service that evolved into Prodigy. She then spent fourteen years designing and implementing consumer online information services, first at AT&T and then at Verizon where she spearheaded the development of the nation's first online Yellow Pages product, now called superpages.com. Dr. Ives has degrees in communication, communication management, and organizational leadership from the University of California at Davis, the University of Southern California, Annenberg School of Communication, and the University of Phoenix-Online, respectively.
Karen PedersenDr. Karen Pedersen recently stepped into the role as Chief Knowledge Officer for the Online Learning Consortium (OLC). Prior to joining OLC, Pedersen served as the Associate Vice President for Extended Campuses at Northern Arizona University. In this role she was responsible for leading a system-wide enrollment management transformation as well as managing marketing, technology, and academic operations. Previously, she served as the Vice President for Professional Studies at Southwestern College (Kansas) for eleven years. Her responsibilities included envisioning and building an online program from the ground up (including seeking regional accreditation approval) and launching over 25 innovative online programs. Additionally, Pedersen had responsibility for expanding military partnerships, engaging in strategic infrastructure projects, as well as positioning the institution in an enrollment growth trajectory. Pedersen also held the academic associate dean and dean roles at Upper Iowa University’s Extended University. In these roles she was responsible for curriculum development, resolving academic issues, supporting learner success, as well as faculty hiring, training, and evaluation. She also built the foundations for an online operation and traveled internationally to develop partnerships in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Malaysia while at UIU. Prior to starting her administrative career, Pedersen served as a faculty member at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. Pedersen holds bachelor of science and master of science degrees from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a doctor of philosophy degree from Oklahoma State University. She has been active with the OLC Quality Scorecard, deploying it at two institutions and serving as an OLC instructor and reviewer.
Jason Palmer

Jason Palmer, deputy director, Postsecondary Success leads the foundation’s efforts in online and blended learning solutions, digital courseware, student coaching and advising, competency-based learning, seamless credit transfer, and employer pathways.

Prior to the foundation in 2013, Jason founded and grew three investor-backed technology and services companies before holding a series of executive positions at Microsoft, SchoolNet, Kaplan, and StraighterLine. At Microsoft Education, Jason was responsible for developing and launching the world’s first learning management system for tablet-based education. At SchoolNet, Jason was responsible for helping the fast growing startup establish partnerships with Scantron, The Princeton Review, Kaplan and ETS. At Kaplan, Jason led three education businesses as general manager or president, in addition to leading the company’s venture capital effort and serving as a board member to startups like Moodlerooms and iProf India. Jason was also one of the first employees at StraighterLine, serving as its first chief product officer, as well as an entrepreneur-in-residence at New Markets Venture Partners, a leading education-focused VC.

Jason holds a B.A. in interdisciplinary studies from the University of Virginia and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School, and also serves on the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education Foundation Board.

James Ptaszynski

James Garner Ptaszynski focuses on helping to fulfill the promise of technology in higher education. He has designed and implemented programs which assisted in improving the capabilities and utilization of technology in education, especially, around access, affordability and student outcomes. He is most passionate about helping faculty to integrate technology in meaningful ways in their classroom activities.

In 2015 Jim joined the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as the Senior Fellow for Postsecondary Success. The Foundation's mission, in postsecondary education, is to ensure that more students are able to complete high-quality, affordable postsecondary credentials that lead to sustaining careers.

Jim joined Microsoft in October 1995, having spent the past 16 years in higher education. For the six years prior to Microsoft, he was the associate dean at the Graduate School of Management at Wake Forest University. In that position, he was responsible for the graduate management school'™s strategic planning, adoption and integration of technology, student services, human resources, the institute for executive education, financial planning, and budget oversight. He also taught graduate-level marketing and published research in trends and driving forces for change in education. In addition, Ptaszynski has consulted for numerous businesses and not-for-profit organizations in the areas of strategic planning, environmental scanning, market research, and technology planning and implementation. His position at Microsoft allowed him to combine three of his professional passions: technology, strategic planning, and higher education.

Jim believes that there exists a great opportunity to significantly advance the appropriate use of technology in higher education. He is passionate that, in order for education to remain competitive in an increasingly information-based and global economy, higher education must adopt and better integrate information technologies.

Jim has served on the U.S. Secretary of Education'™s Commission on the Future of Higher Education (Spellings Commission), the Middle East Institute for Higher Education as well as many other taskforces and as a trusted advisor to numerous educational organizations including serving on the Council of Senior Advisors to the International Association of University Presidents (IAUP).

Jim received his BA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, his Master of Science from Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, and his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Rahim Rajan

Rahim S. Rajan is a Senior Program Officer in the Postsecondary Success Strategy at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In this capacity, Rahim leads and manages a grant portfolio in high quality personalized learning technologies and tools such as adaptive learning, blended MOOCs, and interactive digital courseware. The goal of the personalized learning portfolio is to dramatically improve undergraduate mastery and success for learners at both two year and four year colleges across the United States. Prior to joining the foundation, Rahim helped grow and launch a number of not-for-profit technology startups working at the intersection of network technologies, scholarly communications, and the global academy. In 2000, Rahim joined a recently launched JSTOR (www.jstor.org) focusing on partner development and new market development with a particular focus on expanding access to JSTOR to international scholarly audiences in South Asia, Europe, South America, and Africa. In 2005, Rahim joined the executive management team of another start-up (Aluka) created with support from the Hewlett Foundation, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Stavros Niarchos Foundation, and the Arcadia Trust. Aluka’s mission was to help digitize and globalize access to high quality research and primary source collections from and about the developing world with a particular focus on Africa and Latin America. At Aluka, Rahim led the curation, development, and launch of dozens of new media digital scholarly collections serving researchers and students across the globe including a public private initiative to digitize rare, medieval manuscript collections in Timbuktu, Mali. Rahim earned a BA from the University of Chicago and an M. Phil in Middle East Studies from the University of Cambridge. Rahim lives in Seattle with his wife and two daughters.