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Purposefully Repurposed: College for America Converts a CRM Tool Into a Learner-Centered LMS

Readers of NGLC’s blog are no strangers to Southern New Hampshire University’s College for America (CfA), the remarkably innovative competency-based degree program supported by NGLC that, in spring 2013, became the first such program in the nation to win authorization to offer federal financial aid not tied to the credit hour. This unprecedented development brought SNHU media attention from many corners, up to and including the New York Times. Behind a departure like this lie many individual smaller breaks with conventional processes and approaches. In and of themselves, these changes may not be media magnets, yet they constitute vital components of the breakthrough.

Trending Now: Recent News in the Postsecondary World of Next Generation Learning

In January’s  “Trending Now: Postsecondary” post, Kristen Vogt called attention to a Center for American Progress (CAP) report that pointed to competency-based credentials as a way to provide employers with more confidence in the capabilities of higher education graduates.

Trending Now: Recent News in the Postsecondary World of Next Generation Learning

Near the end of 2013, developments in higher education that caught our attention  included a nationally telecast meeting in Washington on competency-based education at community colleges and a report from Moody’s Investors Service indicating deepening tuition revenue declines for both public and private institutions. Each has implications for NGLC’s grantees, for our work, and for those interested in the best ways to meet students’ needs while improving their institutions’ fiscal health in this challenging era.

And the Winners of the Breakthrough Models Academy Competition Were…All Twelve Teams

CloudU … ClassMob … U.Belong … WIL Academy …  MapEd … Silicon Valley ed-tech startups, perhaps? In fact, these –and five other designs—are creations of the change agents who emerged from the first-ever Breakthrough Models Academy.  The intriguingly titled projects don’t exist in finished form, but they live in the minds of their creators—and, as of last week, in the minds of many who encountered them in the Breakthrough Models Academy competition session at the EDUCAUSE Annual Conference in Anaheim. They debuted Thursday, October 17 in a glassed-in area on the bustling exhibit floor that just managed to contain the energy of twelve innovative teams and their projects.  The projects were initially sketched out during the residential segment of the Breakthrough Models Academy, an intensive week in Cambridge, MA last July.

Progress Report: NGLC Learning Analytics Projects

Think of learning analytics as the warning lights of online learning’s dashboard – that gleaming assemblage of dials and icons that alerts a driver at once if gas in the tank is running low, a door is open, or the cooling system isn’t working. Learning analytics makes it possible for faculty members, student support professionals, and students themselves to notice as soon as problems arise, before those problems lead to the student’s failure in or departure from a class – when there’s still time to take action to remedy the situation. And while you’re thinking about learning analytics and the opportunities it affords institutions to identify students at risk and to intervene, we invite you to take some of your own time to learn about what NGLC’s grantees in this area have accomplished. Today we release a report focused on this challenge area, one of four from the very first grant opportunity that our initiative issued.

Trending Now: Recent News in the Postsecondary World of Next Generation Learning

Summer – at least in theory – offers us opportunities to step back, think about the big picture, and consider some of those analyses that have been published in recent months. In that spirit of summertime reflection, here is my take on a few thought-provoking reports that have crossed my virtual desk of late.

What We Learned at the Inaugural Breakthrough Models Academy

“What a week!” That was what one member of the inaugural Breakthrough Models Academy  posted to the group listserv as the participants dispersed. We had just spent an intensive week together in Cambridge, July 13-19, during the residential portion of the program. The Breakthrough Models Academy’s goal is to create a “sleeper cell:” a cohort of leaders who have the insight, energy, and commitment to design models that will address the critical issues in higher education and point to future change. NGLC was present as the group began the process of stretching toward that kind of leadership. The week combined opportunities to learn from insightful leaders and thinkers in next generation higher education with time for work in inter-institutional teams, with support from experienced coaches, to design a unique breakthrough model.

Northern Arizona Wins Regional Accreditor’s Approval for Personalized Learning Program

It’s all systems go, at last: Northern Arizona University, one of the ten institutions presently developing breakthrough degree programs with NGLC support, recently got the green light to start enrolling students in their Personalized Learning program. The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (HLC), NAU’s regional accreditor, approved their application to offer a competency-based degree program that moves away from the credit hour standard to use an approach referred to as “direct assessment” instead.

Trending Now: Postsecondary

MOOCs dominate recent news and reports in next generation learning, while Southern New Hampshire makes history with competency-based learning.

Last month, Kristen Vogt inaugurated a monthly series on the latest news and reports on next generation learning, contributing the view from the postsecondary sphere. Leading off her inaugural post were notes on the rapidly evolving new federal policies about financial aid funding eligibility for competency-based, self-paced degree programs.  

Blazing the Trail in Texas: Work in Progress on the Texas Affordable Baccalaureate


“What we’re talking about is a different satisfactory academic progress model than most of you are used to,” said project leader Van Davis to a large group of faculty from the two Texas campuses implementing the Texas Affordable Baccalaureate. Far from being shocked by his statement, the group appeared eager to dive into the day’s work on that very model.


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