Sunday, April 22, 2007

HLC motto: Serving the common good by assuring and advancing the quality of higher learning

The 112th Annual Meeting of the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), is in full-throttle this Sunday, April 22, 2007 and I attended two conference sessions this morning illustrating the HLC organizational motto of, "serving the common good by assuring and advancing the quality of higher learning". The first session, Using Student Ratings to Improve Program Quality and Student Learning, included a panel presentation and overview of Kansas State University's The IDEA Center and first hand accounts of how use of The IDEA Centers "learning -centered" surveys support an institution's ability to demonstrate an "understanding of teaching and learning and improve the use and interpretation of information" to provide statistical evidence of meeting AQIP's Category One: Helping Students Learn in systems portfolios.

The second session's panel, What Remedial Freshman Can Teach University Administrators, focused on issues of remedial students in higher education and how their issues were connected to administrative issues at their university. This panel presented in an engaging, humorous, and story-telling manner and at the same time pointed out the serious problems underprepared students have when they enter higher education.While I found value in each presentation panel it was this one that fired me up.

Higher education knows underprepared students are a serious and growing problem. Long's (2005), The Remediation Debate: Are We Serving the Needs of Underprepared College Students, reported that "only one-third of students leave high school prepared for college" and while national research suggests that students provided remediation "have better outcomes than students with comparable backgrounds and preparation who do not take remedial courses" (Long, 2005)", national debates rather than action are still common place.

As the debates about cost, appropriateness of course work below college level, and squables over who, when, and how students might be served take place, 2001 saw the California State University system kicking out over" 2,200 students-nearly seven percent of the freshman class-for failing to master basic English and math skills " (Trouson, 2001).

Underprepared students (Bettinger& Long, 2006)are a growing concern for all of higher education and and might be alleviated by collaborative curriculum endeavors. There are content experts trying to address this need. One example is Minnesota's Mindquest Academy a series of online Adult Basic Education modules created by grant dollars and successfully used to get many Minnesota underprepared students prepared.

Because remedial course work is resource intensive; money, people, and vetted curriculum to effectively move underprepred students content is needed. Online digital content projects that were funded to create these kind of resources for the underprepared should be culled and harvested. I am sure that there are other successful curricula and courses out there to tackle this problem one place to look for them might be Curriki.

Curriki might provide an opportunity for good minds and good content to be massaged, manipulated, and shared to move students through content designed to get to the courses that "count" in a degree plan. According Curriki , "Anyone with access to the Internet can contribute and use the material found on Curriki to teach themselves or others. Whether its algebra, reading, or physics, they will be able to access the curricula online, print it, and/or save it to a CD".

According to Dr. Barbara"Bobbi" Kurshan, when fully operation Curriki will provide easy-to-use tools and a place to create shared curriculum from content developed by world wide contrubutors. Curriki is unique in that its focus will be on complete curricula solutions and not just textbooks and lessons plans(Wikipedia, 2007). The collaborative work that will take place in Curriki will use technology to provide users worldwide access to quality digital content. Founded by Sun System Curriki is an Open Source curricula .