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Friday, December 4, 2009 

Ed-tech grants target remedial college courses


Fri, Dec 04, 2009 

Ed-tech grants target remedial college courses 
Nearly $13M in Gates Foundation funding will support faculty certification
and a range of other programs for basic college classes 
By Dennis Carter, Assistant Editor 

 

Primary Topic Channel:  Funding <http://www.eschoolnews.com/search/?tid=126>
, Grants <http://www.eschoolnews.com/search/?tid=131>  , Professional
development <http://www.eschoolnews.com/search/?tid=137>
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A Gates Foundation grant will create online "gatekeeper courses" for
community college students. 

Social networking soon could be used to help form a virtual community of
campus educators charged with creating a national certification for teachers
of remedial college courses, after the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
announced $12.9 million in new education technology funding for community
colleges Dec. 3.

The funding will be spread through a host of higher-education programs,
according to the foundation's web site--but a central goal will be boosting
remedial education for students entering college without math and reading
skills to meet basic requirements.

More than 60 percent of students in community colleges need some kind of
remedial class--most often, math training--before they can take
credit-bearing courses, according to recent studies. This comes with a price
tag: A study published this summer shows that community colleges spend more
than $1.4 billion on remedial courses every year.

The Gates Foundation has earmarked $3.6 million of the grant money to be
used for remedial training. A group of 26 college faculty from 16 states
will forge an online community aiming to boost the number of educators
teaching remedial lessons in two-year schools.

"Using a mix of learning approaches, we can use technology to make learning
more accessible to a wider range of students," said Ruth Rominger, director
of learning design for the Monterey Institute for Technology and Education
(MITE). "We can create learning environments that let students work through
the courses in a way that is suitable for their learning styles."

George R. Boggs, president of the American Association of Community
Colleges, said offering a financial lift to programs and groups that lay the
educational groundwork for remedial students would help tackle an
increasingly common problem in community colleges.

"The investment announced . by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation addresses
two of the most urgent challenges confronting community colleges today: how
to improve success rates for the millions of underprepared students who come
through their doors, and how to harness the power of technology to expand
capacity and enrich the learning process," Boggs said in a statement.

The Gates Foundation also will allocate $5 million for the development of
new remedial math learning material that will be freely available to
students and teachers through the web site www.HippoCampus.org.

Carnegie Mellon University's Community College Open Learning Initiative will
receive $2.5 million for the development of web-based open learning
platforms for "gatekeeper courses," or introductory-level classes that
students must pass to enter a field of study. (See
<http://www.eschoolnews.com/news/top-news/index.cfm?i=60721> "Program goes
beyond open course model.")

With community college classrooms filling up during the current economic
downturn, these gatekeeper courses are more popular than ever, and many
students are left on lengthy waiting lists, forced to delay their education.


The New York-based National Center for Academic Transformation (NCAT) will
get $1.8 million to help community colleges redesign remedial math classes
that lack sufficient technology integration. Previous course redesigns at
NCAT partner institutions have resulted in an average 51-percent increase in
course completions and an average 37-percent reduction in instructional
costs.

"We are targeting the best new ideas that hold the greatest promise for
improving the odds for low-income young adult learners," said Hilary
Pennington, director of education, postsecondary success, and special
initiatives for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "The power of
technology is its ability to connect people, foster collaboration, empower
learners and teachers, and challenge the status quo."

College officials said they've always expected adults returning to school to
require remedial classes, but an old phenomenon is becoming an escalating
problem: Recent high school graduates coming to campus often lack basic
skills in algebra.

"Remedial math courses are always one of the very large programs in
community colleges," said Boggs, of the American Association of Community
Colleges. "We're getting more students in remedial courses . because math is
one of the most prominent obstacles for student success. It's not something
[adult learners] tend to recall as easily as other subjects."

Links:

Bill and <http://www.gatesfoundation.org/Pages/home.aspx>  Melinda Gates
Foundation

National Center for <http://www.thencat.org/index.html>  Academic
Transformation

American <http://www.aacc.nche.edu/Pages/default.aspx>  Association of
Community Colleges

 

 

 

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