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Breakthrough Models Academy: Team Projects

2015 Projects


Justin Lonsbury, Julian Allen, Phil Ventimiglia, George Pullman

Abstract: GSU+ is an affordable, self-paced, online program built on a foundation of one-credit microcourses that can stand alone or stack into badges, certificates, or entire degrees. Whether used as a professional development, degree-credit, enrichment, or extension platform, GSU+ provides students precise and up-to-date information about competencies they need to realize their aims, courses available to develop related knowledge and skills, and employer-endorsed credentials that translate demonstrated competencies into real opportunities. Because GSU+ courses and credentials are co-developed with or endorsed by local employers and community groups, students can be confident that their investments will pay dividends, and employers and community groups can be confident that GSU+ graduates will be contributors from day one. And, by offering students high-quality, customizable, and targeted alternatives to full degrees, GSU+ also offers the potential to lower the costs of higher education while breathing trust into the ethos of non-traditional higher educational models.

Project Plan: Click here


Peer-Reviewed Assessment Repository

Kailyn Helget, Kathe Kacheroski, Robert Knops, Heather Zink

Abstract: The demand for more skilled and diverse graduates creates a huge opportunity for colleges and education as a whole. The time to act is now. There is a greater need than we have ever seen before. As educators, we are responsible for preparing students with the skills and knowledge to be successful in an ever-changing and demanding workforce. In addition, accurately measuring students' attainment of these skills and providing rich feedback to continue the learning cycle is essential as students move through their degree programs.

As institutions of higher education, it is our responsibility to ensure that all graduates are entering the workforce equipped with the competencies intended in their degree program. Those competencies should align with the skills and tasks that students will perform in the workplace. Authentic assessments are powerful ways to provide students with real world scenarios, and opportunities to demonstrate their application of the knowledge and skills they have acquired. Feedback on those assessments helps students fill in any gaps within their own learning and better prepares them for application in the workplace.

As the adoption of Competency-Based Education (CBE) grows in the United States, more colleges and universities are turning to authentic assessment strategies to document mastery of skills and competencies within degree programs as well as to generate feedback for continual learning.

While authentic assessment might be a powerful learning tool, it is not yet a widespread practice (CBEN, 2015). While being experts in their fields of study, faculty may not be equipped to create authentic tasks that are aligned with the skills employers are seeking. In addition, faculty may not have access to a network of colleagues, workforce and workplace demands, nor assessment experts that are willing to collaborate to create high quality assessments. Ensuring validity and reliability in authentic assessments is a more complex process than determining quality in an objective test. Faculty need access to high quality authentic assessment projects that measure the skills employers are seeking.

Project Plan: Click here

Excelsior College Bachelor of Science in Information Technology Competency-Based Capstone Course Plan

Kuang-Yuan Huang, Cherylmcphillips

Abstract: In this final submission, we propose a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology (BSIT) capstone course project draft plan. In accordance with the philosophy of the Excelsior College –What you know is more important than where or how you learned it–, the capstone course is the only residency requirement for BSIT students. Due to this reason, BSIT may have limited involvement in students‟ education path toward the bachelor degree, and it is therefore crucial for the BSIT program to design and deliver a robust capstone course that helps assess, evaluate, and strengthen students in every aspects of the IT competencies in order to prepare them for the IT workforce. Three key components of the BSIT CBE capstone course –comprehensive outcome assessments, IT projects, and student project reports/ITA portfolios –complement and reinforce each other to ensure that students complete the course have achieved and demonstrated competencies that are required for success in the information technology field.

Project Plan: Click here


Competency Classification Index (CCI): A Taxonomy of the Knowledge, Skills, and Attitudes Achieved by Learners

Julie Uranis (Western Kentucky University); Rita DeBate (University of South Florida), Ashley Cullum (Georgia Regents University) and Michael Erskine (Metropolitan State University – Denver)
Abstract: The Competency Classification Index (CCI) will radically simplify the assessment, transcription, and workforce connections of learning achieved in formal and informal contexts. Inspired by medical coding and classification, CCI will establish a national taxonomy of competency codes by level and specialization allowing the articulation and seamless transfer of knowledge, skills, and attitudes achieved in both formal and informal settings. This provides an opportunity for national comparability as well as the collection, classification and presentation of competencies. Implications include improved transfer of both competency­based and traditional time­based curricula, mechanisms for articulation of competencies gained through work experience, and transparent articulation of critical competencies necessary for workforce development and delivery.

Project Plan: Click here


Freshman Agile Standup (FAST)

Eric Himes (Marshall University), David Bruce (University of Arkansas) and Matthew Henry (LeTourneau University)
Abstract: The Freshman Agile Standup (FAST) project offers an innovative approach for improving first year student retention by leveraging industry proven Agile methodologies. By adapting the Agile stand-up meeting for the classroom, the FAST focus on continuous improvement and instant feedback engenders peer support and strengthens just-in-time intervention by higher education institutions.

Project Plan: Click here


2014 Projects


Tammi Cooper, Shelly Dixon, Andi Koritari, Thomas Riebe

Abstract: There are over 37 million people in our country with some college credit and no degree. Without an easy way for these potential students to ask multiple institutions to provide a solid path to completion, based on what they bring with them, there exists a void in the current higher education degree completion market. is a project proposal aimed at addressing this market void by merging concepts found in services such as and with those in services like to empower students to find the best path to completing their degree. Through this proposed webbased portal, students can provide their pertinent information, have their transcripts requested, find out which institutions are the best option for completing their degree and receive official awards of credit from matching institutions. This is not just an information only site. We believe that every student deserves to be empowered to complete a degree that best serves their needs while maintaining high quality standards. We believe students should make that decision based on concrete facts.

Project Plan: Click here


Brighter Edge

Sally Beatty, Steve Eubanks, Dustin Hilt, Kathryn Klose, Kelvin Thompson

Abstract: Brighter Edge connects underserved students and institutions with professional skills nano-modules and experienced professionals to facilitate and deepen the learning of competencies necessary to be successful in the global economy. Countless studies have confirmed the gap between the professional skills and abilities needed by employers and those taught in the classroom. Brighter Edge helps colleges and universities ensure that their graduates are ready for the workforce and career ready by providing an online program focused on developing 21st century professional skills and abilities. Because the program is competency-based and is modeled in a nano-module framework, it is flexible enough to fit seamlessly with existing curriculum or to be accessed individually on the fly. Furthermore, institutions can access a network of experienced professionals who can be invited to campus to share their experience and insight within the context of a particular competency to provide a complement to the lessons, as well as an opportunity for underserved students to connect directly with a local employer.

Project Plan: Click here
Project Website: Click here



Michelle Cuomo, Jake Holmquist, Jill Leafstedt, Kim Round
Abstract: SHERPA will transform the manner in which educators address the learning needs of their students, assisting them to provide the right resources at the right time to help them succeed. SHERPA will function as an intelligent pedagogical assistant, leveraging quantified self, social and learning analytics data to provide a continuous feedback loop between students and instructors. Information will be synthesized into teaching and learning dashboards, generating actionable personalized recommendations to increase student success.

Project Plan: Click here

El Viaje: Journey to Success

David Dean, Tori Mondelli, Amy Rommelfanger, Jose Sanchez

Abstract: Journey to Success elevates recruitment and retention efforts by providing both an interactive game space and a campus-based support app for discovery, engagement and student success. El Viaje was conceptualized to improve retention and success among Hispanic students by leveraging High Impact Teaching and Learning Practices such as active and collaborative learning and promoting engagement with the university community. Educational scholars point to these strategies to improve success and retention for all students. This groundbreaking tool blends virtual spaces with any brick and mortar campus to promote student engagement with the university and overcomes barriers that may exist on the traditional campus. Colleges that use El Viaje will benefit from providing students with just-in-time resources and access to community while fostering best-practice behaviors and collecting behavioral data from student players. We have infused video-gameplay in the college journey so students will want to engage, and level up, together.

Project Plan: Click here


The Masterly Network

Kelvin Benthly, Ann Marie Buchele, Chad Maxson, Monica Orozco

Abstract: There is a significant need to help institutions create competency-based programs in a streamlined manner, and this means creating a process where competencies can be identified and vetted in a similarly streamlined manner. Masterly is designed to help scale competency-based efforts at colleges and universities nationwide. Competencies will be crowdsourced using our company’s portal. We will establish relationships with leaders from different companies to gather the competencies they seek in various careers and use the Masterly portal to “vote up” or “vote down” these competencies. The Masterly plan is valuable to higher education institutions, industry leaders and job seekers. By crowdsourcing competency development, as well as utilizing expertise from both academia and industry, we strengthen the validity of the competencies generated while simultaneously reducing the labor burden for individual institutions that wish to convert their curriculum to competency-based education (CBE).

Project Plan: Click here
Project Website: Click here


2013 Projects


Team 4: Roger Yohe (coach), Marwin Britto, Regina Obexer, Julie Johnson

Abstract: WIL Academy is an innovative Work Integrated Learning (WIL)1 model designed to connect educational institutions, industry and learners to develop effective programs aimed to fill local skills gaps in STEM, Health and IT fields. The program is aimed at adult learners who have been out of workforce for some time. Through partnerships with local employers, students receive up to 50% of their educational experience in the workplace. The other 50% will be delivered through a competency-based adaptive learning structure at the host college. Learning technologies such as ePortfolios, adaptive learning systems, and online learning resources are important enabling components. WIL Academy will develop effective models of collaboration to deliver relevant programs that address the growing skills gaps in the economy, and help careerinterrupted learners with valuable pre-existing skills get back into the workforce.

Project Plan:  Click here


WIL Academy by Marwin Britto, Julie Johnson, and Regina Obexer is licensed under WIL Academy by Marwin Britto, Julie Johnson, and Regina Obexer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.



Team 5: Shelli Fowler (coach), Trevor Davis, Danna Gibson, Tacy Holliday, Phillip Neufeld

Abstract: Collectively, institutions of higher education have always had missions that included preparing students for the demands of their lives after graduation. However, the nature of these demands has changed. The economic reality of current graduates is that they must be prepared for multiple jobs and changes in required skills - prepared for work yet imagined. Yet, many jobs are unfilled with employers indicating students are unprepared. Universities and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have not been able to fully equip students with 21st century workplace competencies. U.Belong is a student-centered initiative that enables and supports students collaboratively working within peer groups; learning through crowd-sourced competency-based modules; creating culminating portfolios; and, through their co-agency in each others’ success, developing resiliency and efficacy necessary for workplace success. U.Belong connects students with each other, community resources, and educational institutions to improve student’s ability to successfully navigate the transition from college to career.

Project Plan: Click here



Team 10: Shelli Fowler (coach), Kevin de Kock, Andrew Meyer, Susan Opp, Sharon Silverman

Abstract: Remedial coursework has many negative consequences including contributing to high dropout rates, lengthening time to college completion, and costing both colleges and students time and money. We propose to harness the educational benefits that can be gained from students playing alternate reality games and replace both remediation and high-stakes placement tests with these games. The learning environment in games - where failure is common, repeated attempts are encouraged, working in teams is helpful and encouraged, and the successful end result is all that really matters - is significantly different than in typical classrooms. Prospective college students will embark on series of “missions” while playing games in the LifeTracks series. In the pilot year, the game will be SportTracks with a baseball theme. LifeTracks will gather student work in an e-portfolio that will be assessed by educators to demonstrate that students have met the learning outcomes necessary for college-level work.

Project Plan: Click here



Class Mob

Team 12: Tom Cavanagh (coach), Jean Derco, Brad Hinson, Brian McNurlen, Amy Collier

Abstract: Not every learner’s needs are met by a degree program. Some learners, such as displaced workers who are trying to enter new career fields, need customizable and flexible education options without the additional requirements of general education courses or pre-requisites. ClassMob is a tool that allows learners and employers to define their learning preferences, needs, and outcomes via crowdsourcing. Learners are empowered to design, request proposals/bids on, and vote on the curriculum and instruction they desire to drive personal career change, skill attainment, or employment. Employers can define skills they most want to see in new hires, but may be missing in college graduates or displaced workers. Education and commercial training providers bid to meet the learning needs of the Mobs.

Project Plan: Click here