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INNOVATOR 2005: Coppin State


Dramatically Improving Student Note-taking and Class Retention Coppin State University / Tegrity Campus
An historically black institution in Baltimore, MD, Coppin State is dedicated to helping its 4,000 students succeed in the face of obstacles.With limited financial support,many students must maintain jobs during the course of their studies, and their obligations at home sometimes precede their course responsibilities. Coppin State needed to offer its students a flexible, effective and inexpensive way to improve learning, studying, and information retention. In addition, the university was looking for a way to expand class time beyond the four walls of the classroom— all of which would give students a better opportunity to succeed.

Technology Choice/Project Design

Coppin State chose the Tegrity Campus solution from Tegrity ( According to the university’s VP/IT and CIO Ahmed El- Haggan, “What struck us about Tegrity was that it was a technology that impacted and improved fundamental learning behaviors— listening to lectures, taking notes, studying— with minimal change in classroom behavior for both the instructor and the student. While the underlying technology is complex, it’s simple for our students and faculty to use, and can benefit all students, traditional and non-traditional. In terms of scalability and extensibility, the technology could easily be implemented across the entire campus in a short period of time; we employed a pilot program prior to implementation to ensure that it would be appropriate, beneficial, and worth the investment. Other technologies included in the deployment: Blackboard’s course management system (, already in place; Tablet PCs to capture written communication by professors; and audio and visual recordings, projectors, document cameras, and wireless microphones and cameras, many of which were already installed in our 40 ‘smart’ classrooms.”

Coppin State instructors continue to teach as they always have, and the students maintain their normal classroom behaviors, both within the institution’s existing technology infrastructure. The software simply provides anytime access to the recorded classroom experience. The addition of the Tegrity digital pen allows students (who do not wish to use or don’t have access to laptops and tablet PCs) to take handwritten notes during class. The technology then records the class or lecture (and lectures across campus), automatically populating the archived lectures in the university’s course management system. Later, students can view their notes online, exactly as written in their notebooks, and double- click on any notation to hear and see the professor explain a particular concept again. Or, they can replay the entire class online.

Key Players
Assessment and implementation of the technology (Learning on Demand, Coppin’s Tegrity Project) was a campuswide effort, and came under the auspices of the Information Resources Management Committee (including El-Haggan and other top administrators, and student affairs representatives), the Office of Information Technology, Office of the Provost, the Faculty Information Technology Committee, and the Student Advisory Board.
The rate of faculty adoption was "unprecedented" .

The initiative resulted in saving students a great deal of study and learning time by allowing them to re-access classes and lectures at any time of the day or night. Response has been “overwhelming,” says Habtu Braha, chair of the Faculty Information and Technology Committee and professor of Economics.“Our students have jobs on top of their school work—many have responsibilities at home. They’re facing the pressure to succeed academically, despite considerable financial challenges. Now they have flexibility. They have an effective learning tool that conforms to their unique situation.”

Coppin State commissioned the A-HEC (, a non-profit research and educational organization, to conduct an objective survey of its students and faculty to determine the impact of the technology. Nearly 90 percent of the student respondents said that the new technology contributed positively to their learning, and 94 percent indicated their desire to use the note-taking solution in some or all of their future classes. Fifty-four percent indicated that they believed that the technology solution helped to improve their grades in the course in which it was used.“For our instructors,” says Sadie Gregory, provost and VP of Academic Affairs, “the enthusiasm and success that students are reporting has led to similar sentiments. The rate and extent of adoption by the faculty was unprecedented. We had originally designed the pilot project, which concluded this past spring, to involve two faculty using Tegrity for two courses. Due to high demand, we expanded the pilot to include 10 faculty and 12 courses. When we held our technology conference at the onset of the summer, to train the faculty on the technologies available to them on campus, we had a 99 percent turnout rate, largely due to the growing interest in this technology. At the conference, 30 instructors signed up for summer training, unpaid, in order to use the new solution in the fall.”

This summer, Coppin State’s Office of the Provost designed a mini-grant for the summer that initially enlisted five faculty members to develop full online courses using the Tegrity technology coupled with Blackboard’s course management system. Again, due to demand, the mini-grant was extended to 10 faculty members. The faculty also took part in the survey conducted by the A-HEC. Ninety percent of the faculty indicated a desire to use Tegrity in some or all future classes; 62 percent expressed a desire to use Tegrity Campus in all of their courses.

Fifty instructors are currently expected to use the note-taking solution throughout the fall semester, for 160 courses. Last spring, 150 students were using Tegrity pens; this fall, there will be over 800 pens in use. Coppin expects full deployment by spring of next year.

Though welcome, the overwhelming adoption by the faculty was the biggest surprise. And while the larger-than-expected pilot program called for the enlistment of additional tech support, it was, for the most part, unneeded.
Next Steps
Coppin State is planning to equip all of its classrooms across campus with microphones and cameras to make the note-taking solution accessible to all students and faculty, and will also explore the possibility of investing in movable cameras that can “follow” the more mobile instructors.The university is also discussing the possibility of installing additional microphones in the classroom, aside from those worn by the professors, in order to better capture student comments and questions on audio recordings.
Says El-Haggan, “To get a feel for the technology, implement your own pilot program, or formulate a dry run where a select group of faculty and students are provided the equipment to use for a week or two. Introduce your faculty and students to the technology in advance of a course so that they are all wellprepared, and can take best advantage of the solution. Also, be sure to arrange for the appropriate technical support, if only to reassure the faculty and students that help is available when they need it.”