From Virtual Reality to OER to Math Readiness and Guaranteed Pathways, WCET Award Winners Are Making a Difference for Students

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WCET is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2015 WCET Outstanding Work award – Boise State University; The NROC Project; University of Central Florida; University of Maryland University College

2015 WCET Outstanding Work Award Logo
These four award recipients represent creative innovation, hard work, and deep commitment to students and their success in higher education. - Janet Atkinson, director of the eCampus Center at Boise State University and chair, WOW Award committee.

Since 2004, the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET) has been presenting the WCET Outstanding Work (WOW) award to colleges, universities and organizations who are implementing exceptionally creative, technology-based solutions to contemporary challenges in higher education. The WOW award helps WCET meet its mission of promoting innovative and effective practice by providing exemplary programs as models for the higher education community to adapt for their own students and faculty.

This year’s WOW award recipients have all implemented solutions in areas shown to have impact on student success.

  • Boise State University: Virtual Reality Nursing Simulation with Custom Haptic System for Patient Safety allows students to practice sterile procedures in a gaming environment.
  • The NROC Project: EdReady, A College Math Readiness System is a personalized college math readiness system that helps students avoid the time and costs associated with remediation.
  • University of Central Florida: Direct Connect to UCF Pathway is a career and academic support tool, designed to work closely and intentionally with students as they prepare to transfer to UCF.
  • University of Maryland University College: Open Educational Resources Initiative maximizes the use of OER across over 700 undergraduate courses.

“This year it was our honor to review 38 powerful projects,” said Janet Atkinson, director of the eCampus Center at Boise State University and chair, WOW Award committee. “These four award recipients represent creative innovation, hard work, and deep commitment to students and their success in higher education.”

The WOW awardees will be recognized by WCET’s national community of higher education innovators during the WCET 27th Annual Meeting in Denver, CO November 11 – 13, 2015.

Boise State University: Virtual Reality Nursing Simulation with Custom Haptic System for Patient Safety
The use of medical manikins in nursing education, while reducing prep time for clinical training, is expensive. Many institutions do not have enough manikins to allow all nursing students to practice on them to desired levels of expertise before transferring their skills to work on a human being. Consequently, millions of patients undergo procedures performed by trainees and new medical personnel who may not have had adequate time to practice them. Insufficiently prepared personnel increase the risks, for example, to secondary infections.

To accomplish this goal, nursing faculty teamed up with gaming developers at Boise State and created a virtual reality simulation. GIMM is a new undergraduate major formed under the College of Innovation and Design. Its focus is on working with cutting edge mobile and gaming technologies, including the Internet of Things, Virtual, and Augmented Reality. Their simulation focuses on sterile techniques in urinary catheterization with the use of custom haptics (i.e., simulation gloves, muscle sensors, and infrared detection) to facilitate training of nursing students in the mastery of this basic medical procedure. The virtual reality system allows students to practice sterile procedures in a gaming environment that captures real movements from their bodies, arms, and fingers and translates them instantly into the simulation. A pilot study of the system demonstrated the system’s promise, both in the subsequent accuracy of the students’ ability to perform the actual procedure and the ability to implement the technology at one third the cost of using a medical manikin.

Contact: Cienna Madrid
Title: Communications Specialist
Phone: (208) 426-4147; ciennamadrid(at)boisestate(dot)edu

The NROC Project: EdReady, A College Math Readiness System
EdReady supports and accelerates student success in starting and completing college by eliminating the need for math remediation. Within EdReady, institutions create "goals" to support a variety of academic initiatives (e.g. SAT preparation, Accuplacer preparation, etc.). Each EdReady goal represents a unique, student-focused readiness experience, within which learners take a college math readiness diagnostic, view study options, and follow a personalized study path to fill in any identified gaps in their knowledge. Educators and administrators can see useful data to guide student success and improve retention, while institutions can customize EdReady to support various programmatic goals and academic initiatives.

EdReady was designed to be adaptable and flexible, so it can be used effectively in many different institutional contexts and for many different target populations. EdReady is currently in use at greater than 100 systems and institutions across the United States. In one case study, the Montana Digital Academy and the University of Montana employed EdReady to offer 63 incoming freshman the opportunity to avoid the remedial classes for which they were slated. These learners had six weeks to utilize EdReady online and at their own pace, with academic coaching available. Eighty-seven percent of the students who reached the EdReady target score substantially improved their college math readiness, with 60% able to skip one developmental math class, 25% able to skip two classes, and one student able to skip all three classes.

Contact: Amanda Melton
Title: Communications Specialist
Phone: (206) 949-2814; amelton(at)thenrocproject(dot)org

University of Central Florida: Direct Connect to UCF Pathway
This Pathway is a career and academic support tool, designed to work closely and intentionally with students as they prepare to transfer to UCF. Created around the concepts of student development competencies, academic and career planning, and academic and social integration, the Pathway (1) provides stronger career and academic preparation for students earlier in their collegiate career; (2) offers structured and guided support to students before, during, and even after their transfer into UCF; (3) affords opportunities for students to develop and advance their skills in order to promote career success; and (4) ultimately offers a smoother and easier transition experience for students from their state colleges into UCF.

In order to meet these goals, five DirectConnect to UCF partners—Daytona Beach State College, Easter Florida State College, Lake Sumter State College, Seminole State College, and Valencia College—along with internal constituents and students, designed very thoughtful touch-points along the Pathway to include completion of career assessments; declaration of meta-majors and majors; attendance at various skills workshops; meetings with advisors that are planned and intentional; participation with various student groups; and guided assistance in meeting all of the requirements for the UCF application and transfer process. The Pathway is built and accessible within UCF’s learning management system, uses virtual advising tools to meet students in the online environment, and awards digital badges that are themed to enhance student engagement. The Pathway provides a well-defined structure to the DirectConnect experience that gives students the ability to track their own academic and professional growth, and sets purposeful expectations and learning outcomes at each stage of the Pathway journey in order to best guide students and promote their success.

Contact: Jennifer Sumner
Title: Director of Academic Support Services, Regional Campuses, University of Central Florida
Phone: (407) 823-3119; jennifer.sumner(at)ucf(dot)edu

University of Maryland University College: Open Educational Resources Initiative
UMUC has completed the first phase of the largest non-profit initiative in the U.S. to maximize use of open Education Resources (OER) for all students. UMUC is leading this initiative to respond to the need to lower costs and increase access to course materials for its students. UMUC, given its worldwide population of military and adult students, implemented a plan to ensure that by fall 2015 all undergraduate courses will have adopted eResources at no cost to the student, thus making course materials freely available to all 64,000 undergraduate students and significantly reducing the cost of attendance.

This goal has now been met, with more than 700 courses converted to an eResource format. In the next phase of this project, the graduate school will phase in OER resources for its curriculum by fall of 2016. By that date, all of the approximately 82,000 students at UMUC worldwide will have access to all required course materials at no cost.

Contact: Bob Ludwig
Title: Assistant Vice President, Media Relations
Phone: (301) 985-7253; email: Robert.ludwig(at)umuc(dot)edu

About WCET
The WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET) is the leader in the practice, policy, and advocacy of technology-enhanced higher education. More information about WCET’s institutional membership resources and services can be found on WCET’s website, http://wcet.wiche.edu
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