NGLC Breakthrough Models Incubator

EDUCAUSE, in partnership with The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the League for Innovation in the Community College created a space for innovation-oriented leadership teams to explore and launch new business and learning models for higher education.

We have welcomed new teams of innovators to the community. The common threads are serious attention to student-centered design, unwavering focus on providing relevant, high quality learning experiences, a sharpened focus on sustainability and the strategic use of technology. More institutions are joining this community of higher education innovators through the Breakthrough Models Incubator program in 2015.



Have you met the “new” college student? University of Maryland-University College designed a program for exactly this new profile – meet her here. Harper College redefined the first-year experience from its website to the nature of faculty engagement by investing in a deep series of student-only focus groups. Surprise finding – students don’t just want a degree; they want to know how to use it to build a meaningful life. Ball State’s app to reinforce and reward retention and graduation was developed by, tested by and iterated by students of the university. Montgomery County Community College created a campaign that dramatically influences positive student financial decision-making by seeking student insights.



University of New England, Excelsior College, Empire State, and Austin Community College all engaged employers as co-creating stakeholders in the development of new competency-based education (CBE) degree programs designed to provide underserved students with opportunities in fast-growing, rewarding careers in IT, health care, business and visual communications.



Austin Peay State University, Excelsior College and  Empire State College fully embraced and applied business concepts such as return on investment and net revenue analysis to develop financially sustainable prototypes that can grow into lasting sources of revenue for the institutions. All the teams used the rpkGROUP’s pro forma template. Access the pre-recorded webinar that sets the context for this tool here. APSU adapted the 2013 version of the tool to analyze the sustainability of other university projects; Empire State College used the 2014 version to create meaningful, guided internal conversation about the financial implications of their design decisions.



Empire State College, Austin Community College, University of Maryland – University College, and Austin Peay State University like most of this community all designed initiatives that are creatively supported and enabled by technology. They incorporate adaptive learning technology to develop math skills in the IT context, predictive analytics to help students choose a major, online-delivery of course content coupled with just-in-time supports and creative use of social media to promote student engagement. With their efforts the institutions in the CBE-focused cohort are providing momentum to advance all institutions to the next generation of learning management systems.