Summary: An overview of the challenges of the Bridge To Success project that takes UK open content to targeted US students.
Abstract: ‘Open Learning: Bridge to Success’, a Next Generation Learning Challenges grant project, is a partnership between The Open University (OU) (UK), Anne Arundel Community College (AACC), the University of Maryland University College (UMUC), and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (USA). The grant has enabled these institutions to capitalise on the success of the OU’s ‘Openings’ content by modifying it for students in the US with the aim of improving retention, learner capability, confidence and motivation through the acquisition of learning skills and core maths. During a short timeframe (12 months) this has brought about the creation of versatile OER content that has drawn on the expertise of its partner institutions to develop. The OU’s ‘Openings’ courses have been shown to increase learner capability and confidence, encourage participation, result in student registration on accredited courses, and contribute to greater progression and completion. The Bridge to Success (B2S) content aims to allow remediation and practice, accelerate time to completion and open up pathways to skills. Two of the Openings courses have been adapted for B2S (Starting with Maths and Learning to Change) and enhanced with activities (pre-assessment, diagnostic activities, formative assessments) to engage adults in the learning process. Course units have been presented and developed in the OU’s free, standards-based OpenLearn LabSpace website which allows all users to contribute to, edit and initiate material. The content is therefore not only available to targeted students in the US, but anyone browsing or searching the OU’s content. Pilot institutions in the US have adopted B2S content as the recommended route for preparation to college placement. The piloting process is monitoring, supporting and evaluating the impact of materials within the colleges involved. A program offering support material for adoption by colleges and instructors has been established so that those with no formal connection to B2S can utilise the content. B2S is contributing to the American Graduation Initiative outlined by President Obama in 2009 which aims for all US citizens to obtain at least one year of post-secondary education or career training. The project will directly engage with over 3000 students and over 100 educators during the grant period. The proposed session will:
Showcase the OU’s technology base from which it develops and delivers OER to scale, including the B2S content. Explain the project’s pilots: the range of US institutions adopting the content and the diversity of delivery methods. Discuss the challenges of taking UK face-to-face courses and adapting them to function in the US as both standalone OER and taught online courses. Show how the use of online formative assessment has aided remote instructors to track student progress. Provide an overview of the evaluation strategies that have been employed to ensure the delivery of quality content (usability, accessibility, developmental testing).