MIAMI, FLORIDA – Florida Memorial University, Lumen Learning, Oakwood University and Wiley College have announced their collaboration in support of The Center for Excellence in Distance Learning at Wiley College, with the goal of improving online education at HBCUs through the effective use of open educational resources. The Universities are forging a new path by tapping into the wealth of high quality open education resources (OER) available today. The Center for Excellence in Distance Learning is working with OER services provider Lumen Learning to tailor online courses to the unique needs of HBCUs and the students they serve.
“Distance learning is a great way to encourage collaboration and innovation in online learning within the HBCU community,” said Dr. Roslyn Artis, president of Florida Memorial online courses that we will begin offering on June 23rd.”
When Wiley College embarked on plans to build out its distance learning programs, faculty members found a growing body of free, high quality OER that aligned with many of the high-demand courses the College planned to offer. Seeking faculty professional development on how to use OER effectively, Wiley College joined the Kaleidoscope Project funded by Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC) and began collaborating with Lumen Learning and other colleges to design and improve OER-based courses.
According to Kim Thanos, CEO of Lumen Learning, OER offer several advantages over commercial textbooks for addressing challenges faced by many HBCU students. “Cost has an impact: OER are free, so no expensive commercial textbooks are required. Perhaps more importantly, OER provide faculty with the freedom to design a course that works for their students. With OER, they can excerpt, modify and rearrange course materials to align with learning objectives. They can also add elements that encourage student success, such as study aids, embedded assignments, culturally-relevant examples, and materials that fit different reading levels or learning preferences.”
Success with the Kaleidoscope Project collaboration in 2013 soon led to the creation of The Center for Excellence in Distance Learning at Wiley College. With most HBCUs relying on lean staffing and leaner budgets, distance learning programs have been largely out of reach. Leaders from Wiley College, Oakwood University and other HBCUs hope to change this picture.
“As we introduced the new OER-based online courses for Wiley College students, we saw huge potential for broader collaboration with other HBCUs,” said Dr. Glenda F. Carter, Executive Vice President and Provost at Wiley College. “We all face similar challenges with online education. Through The Center for Excellence in Distance Learning, we can share courses, materials, progress and innovation. With a pooled investment, we can get further and faster toward the outcomes we all want to see.”
HBCUs Florida Memorial University and Oakwood University have joined The Center for Excellence in Distance Learning at Wiley College. Faculty members from these and other Lumen Learning client institutions are working together to develop new OER-based courses. They plan to offer 30 new courses in summer 2014, adding to 12 already being taught across a range of high-enrollment subjects. Wiley College is in discussion with other HBCUs interested in joining the Center.
In addition to cross-institution collaboration in support of distance learning, the vision for the Center is ultimately to develop a vast catalog of online courses, programs and supplemental resources that historically black colleges and universities can use to build distance education programs more efficiently and effectively. With this collection grounded in open educational resources, each institution and instructor has greater freedom to adapt the courses and materials to their programs, preferences and students’ needs.
Through the Center, Lumen Learning provides faculty training and ongoing support to help instructors teach effective courses using OER. This support assists with instructional design, maintaining current and high quality learning content, alignment with learning outcomes, proper licensing and attribution, and ongoing improvements to courses and materials based on student success data.
“In the end, this is all about encouraging student success,” said Dr. Kim Long, Director of The Center for Excellence in Distance Learning at Wiley College. “Many of our students lack the technology and information literacy they need to succeed in both online courses and the workplace. Using OER, we are designing online courses and programs to help them develop and apply these skills as an integral part of the education we provide.”
For more information about FMU’s involvement with the Center for Excellence Distance Learning Collaboration, contact Erica McKinney at 305-626-3626 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.