Apr 102014

open_book_neonTonight (April 10th, 2014) during the New Horizon’s Excellence in Education Awards dinner,  Chancellor Glenn DuBois will be announcing the next round of the Chancellor’s OER Adoption Grant. Because you are reading my blog or following me on Twitter, you get an advanced peek at the grant details and online application. Don’t say I never gave you nothin’.

Building on the success and momentum of the 2013 grant, which produced twelve high-enrollment, faculty-developed courses in which all required materials are free and openly licensed, the next phase of the Chancellor’s project will focus on increasing OER adoption by incentivizing VCCS faculty content experts to build and curate a library of open educational resources . The 2014-15 grants will be awarded to individuals who will form multi-college content teams to identify and review open content for high-enrollment course sequences (BIO 101-102, CHM 111-112, etc.). Each grantee will receive $1000 to collect these materials as well as  use them  to build and pilot their own OER courses at their respective colleges. Other VCCS faculty will be able to confidently select from this curated content to incorporate into their courses however they wish.

This OER development model of content teams has been used successfully in the Kaleidoscope Project, an effort several of our colleges are participating. Grantees will be supported by Lumen Learning.

For more information about the grant, or to fill out the online application, follow this link to my Chancellor’s OER Adoption Grant page. You’ll find out more grant details and links to the RFP and online application. The turnaround time for applying is pretty short: the deadline is April 28th, 2014. Good luck!


Apr 022014


Pull your best arrows out of the quiver, take careful aim,  and hit the innovation bullseye and you could steal away with up to $5 million in  booty from the Robin Hood organization. Robin Hood’s “College Success” Prize  is a jackpot of $5 million that will go to the individual or team that develops a scalable technology solution to help community college students stay on track to a timely graduation.

The  goal of the organization is to alleviate poverty.  Robin Hood believes that developing innovative, scalable, and technology-enabled tools that improve the academic performance of underprepared college students can help achieve that goal.

Here is a description of the competition from the Robin Hood web site:

The competition is open to individuals and teams that develop scalable solutions that will help more community college students graduate within 2-3 years.  Competitors may address whichever set of student skills they believe will produce the greatest success. These may include math, reading, or writing, as well as behavioral, non-cognitive or non-academic factors.

The Prize will reward successful interventions – such as smartphone apps, computer applications, and web-based tools—that are aimed at the individual student and will supplement existing curricula and supportive services such as tutoring.

The competition launched in March 2014 and continues through October 2018, with the prize money distributed incrementally based on results.

Apr 012014


NROC, or the National Repository of Online Courses, announced at its 2014 Member meeting in beautiful Monterey, CA that their new platform, EdReady, is now available and free to the public. EdReady allows users to assess their readiness for college math and, based on the results, provides individuals with a personalized study path of college math content. There are assessments that target the Accuplacer and Compass, and one for a general college placement assessment. NROC is also developing similar modules for English readiness, which should be ready around this time next year.

As of today–April 1st, 2014–anyone can use the EdReady platform. However, member institutions get access to a dashboard that allows them to customize the content, brand the experience, and generate detailed user reports, among other things. So far, pilot institutions have used EdReady in a high school college readiness program, in a Developmental Math MOOC, as component of college courses, and in Adult Basic Education courses.

NROC is a non-profit organization funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. In addition to the EdReady content, NROC offers a wealth of other  course content found at HippoCampus that are designed to cover the breadth and depth of topics based on generally accepted national curricula and free to teachers and students. Member institutions can also customize these courses within a course management system.

You can find out more about NROC here: http://www.montereyinstitute.org/nroc/
You can find a link to EdReady here: https://edready.org/
You can find a link to Hippocampus here: http://www.hippocampus.org/

Mar 282014


From the New Media Consortium:

The rebranded NMC Academy launched publicly today, a not-for-profit hub for education-related professional development. The mission of the project from its inception has been to provide busy teachers and other learning professionals with the opportunity to expand their knowledge and skills online, to explore new ways of delivering online learning, and to generally push the boundaries of cutting-edge professional learning opportunities. HP has selected the NMC to lead the next phases of the project because of the NMC’s track record for creating sustainable models that advance innovation in education.<full article>

The link to the NMC Academy site is academy.nmc.org

Mar 282014


From LifeHacker:

At long last, Microsoft is bringing its Office suite to the iPad, and you can download it today. The Word, Excel, and PowerPoint apps are specifically designed for the iPad’s touch environment and will sync, via OneDrive, to other Office apps on other devices.

In today’s demonstration, Microsoft showcased how formatting is consistent between the iPad apps and desktop versions, as well as some nifty touch-only formatting and editing capabilities. Some of the more interesting features include previewing charts in Excel before you insert them, laser pointing with your finger in PowerPoint, and very flexible Word layouts.

The full version, with full editing capabilities, is free for Office 365 subscribers. For everyone else, you’ll be able to use Office for iPad at least to view or present documents.

You can download the apps today in iTunes via this link.

Mar 272014


There are two new job openings here at the VCCS System Office for anyone who wants to work where the real action is. I have posted excerpts from the position descriptions below, but click on the links for all the exciting details .Please feel free to forward the link to anyone you think may be interested in working for the VCCS.

Assistant Vice Chancellor for Technology Services Administration

The position will provide effective and strategic leadership, administration and support for all activities associated with the administrative functions required to maintain and operate a complex enterprise technology infrastructure. This includes overall responsibility for departmental decisions and directing activities for information security, project management, advanced technology, technology acquisition services, technology support services and more. Work will focus on the strategic nature of technology planning and administration, and the AVC will be responsible for developing and nurturing a long-term vision that positions administrative technology services as a key factor in enhancing the excellent customer service and planning provided for all of Information Technology Services. <more>

Assistant Vice Chancellor for Enterprise Services Operations

The AVC will provide vision and strategic direction for long range planning of the enterprise systems, and is responsible for the overall architecture, design, deployment, utilization and enhancement of the systems and services. This includes overall responsibility for departmental decisions and directing activities for application support, enterprise engineering, network support, application integrations, and more. Work will focus on the achievement of objectives through the effective use of technology, and focuses on the human, organizational and value stream aspects of business processes and their transformation. <more>

 Posted by on March 27, 2014 Jobs, VCCS News No Responses »
Mar 132014

After years of having its licensed images show up illegally in thousands of boring presentations, Getty Images has tried a new tact to encourage heavier use of and credit and payment for their library of high quality and high resolution images.

Users can now embed many of Getty’s images for free. If any of the licensed images have the following  embed icon:



Once you click on the embed icon, you simply copy and paste the code and paste into your WordPress blog, web site, or any other location that allows embedding.

The caveat here is that, if Getty ever deletes the image, or if the link changes, the embedded file will no longer work. I think Getty Images might suggest that you consider purchasing these images to avoid this problem.

 Posted by on March 13, 2014 VCCS News No Responses »
Mar 112014


The OpenEd conference is hands down the premier national conference on Open Educational Resources. Now in its 11th year, the conference traditionally alternates between a location in Utah, its state of origin, and an international location, such as China (2008) or Vancouver, Canada (2012). As I was leaving Park City, Utah after the 2013 Open Ed Conference, the rumor was that the 2014 conference would be located in either Brazil or New Zealand.

No offense to either Brazil or New Zealand, but I am relieved and excited that David Wiley and the conference organizers decided instead to host the conference right here in our backyard, in Arlington, VA. Relieved because, as much as I would love to travel to either of the alternate international locations, there is little doubt the state would pay my way. Excited because having the conference in Virginia is an acknowledgement of the Commonwealth’s national role in OER development–especially the VCCS’s leading role in VA–and will allow VCCS faculty and staff to highlight their cutting edge work on such an important stage.

With that said, the call for papers for OpenEd 2014 is now open. Please share this information with your college colleagues, especially those who are currently involved in or interested in being involved in open educational resources. With this conference not just in the same timezone but right down (or up?) the road, it is a great opportunity for VCCS faculty to learn from the many other OER projects around the world.

Follow this link  to submit a proposal: http://openedconference.org/2014/

Mar 112014


Tidewater Community College President Edna Baehre-Kolovani used her guest columnist spot in the Friday, March 7th Richmond Times-Dispatch to talk about TCC’s groundbreaking Z-Degree, the first college degree in the nation that has zero textbook costs. Despite the significant cost savings to students–potentially $3600 per student–President Kolovani also shared the preliminary outcome from TCC’s pilot: the OER courses had higher student retention and comparable grades, and students perceived better course quality and success at meeting learning goals. Additionally, once word got out about the OER courses, the course offerings for spring filled quickly.

Kolovani also made an interesting case against traditional textbooks. She wrote:

Because textbooks are frequently written for broad audiences in the hopes that they will be adopted by large numbers of faculty and departments, they are filled with content that is superfluous to a specific course’s learning outcomes. At best, the faculty member who is focused on content directly supporting the course’s outcomes must skip significant portions of the textbook. At worst, a faculty member may rely on the textbook’s content, not the learning outcomes, to organize and teach a course.

You can read President Kolovani’s the entire R T-D column here.

 Posted by on March 11, 2014 VCCS News No Responses »
Mar 102014


Northern Virginia Community College’s Extended Learning Institute (ELI) is currently being showcased on the OpenCourseware Consortium website for their OER-based General Education Project. The OpenCourseWare Consortium is a worldwide community of higher education institutions and associated organizations “committed to advancing open education and its impact on global education.” NVCC’s OER-Based General Education Project utilizes free and/or open courses materials to deliver a high quality learning experience and lead to a General Studies Certificate and satisfy the first year of the Associate of Science Degree. The project was funded through a 2013 College Innovation Fund grant received from the Virginia Community College System.

Dr. Preston Davis, Director of Instruction at Northern Virginia Community College’s Extended Learning Institute, and his staff of faculty, librarians, and instructional designers used the grant funds not just to reduce costs, but also to create greater awareness of OER among faculty at NVCC and, most importantly,  improve teaching and learning through the use of engaging new OER content. —
Currently, the Gen Ed OER project offers twelve courses that have no course material or textbook costs. The courses are ART 101 and 102, ENGLISH 111,112,125, and 251, HISTORY 121, 122, and 262, MATH 151, PHYSICS 201 and 202, and STUDENT DEVELOPMENT 100. A second CIF grant awarded to NVCC in 2014 will allow the college to develop OER for additional second year courses in order to offer a General Education degree with no textbook costs.

Watch the video below to hear the ELI  team talk the project.