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Wow! 5 Higher Ed Technologies Win Awards

Five education innovations, from adaptive learning technology to OER associate degrees to the use of gaming in supporting student writing, will be recognized during this year's annual meeting of WCET, the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies. WCET, a division of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, each year presents its WOW award to colleges, universities and organizations that are trying out "exceptionally creative, technology-based solutions" in response to challenges in higher education.

This year's recipients are:

  • Colorado Technical University, which created intellipath, its own adaptive learning platform for use by students and faculty involved in MBA prerequisites;
  • Capella University, which launched FlexPath, a federally-approved competency-based direct assessment degree program in business, information technology and psychology;
  • University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee has implemented U-Pace, an instructional approach that combines self-paced master-based learning through a learning management system with instructor-initiated "amplified assistance" in online courses via email customized from templates;
  • Excelsior College, which developed the OWL, a multimedia online writing lab that helps students with the writing process, documentation, grammar, avoiding plagiarism and other topics. The lab can be accessed from computers, tablets or smartphones. An independent study found students who used the OWL improved their writing skills and processes, and increased their final grades by an average of 6.6 points; and
  • Northern Virginia Community College, recognized for its open education resource associate degree project, which enables students to take courses without purchasing textbooks. Savings in its first semester of use was "in excess of $200,000," the college reported. Currently, the school offers OER-based sections in 15 courses.

"Each year this coveted award is bestowed upon institutions who are creatively applying technological innovations to answer the big questions related to student access and success in higher education," said Shanna Coles, interim director, distance education & summer school, University of North Carolina Charlotte and chair of the WOW Award committee. "Encompassed in this year's winners, we have effective models to help students move towards credentials quickly, with the foundation necessary for success while keeping access and affordability at the forefront."

"Receiving the 2014 WOW award from WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies reinforces that CTU has remained at the forefront of an evolving educational landscape," said Connie Johnson, chief academic officer and provost at Colorado Tech. "When it comes to education, we know students are looking for innovative and efficient programs, so our coursework features cutting-edge technologies like intellipath that give students what they need to be successful in the classroom and in their careers."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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