Local Control vs. Economies of Scale: On Partnering, Consortia, and MOOCs CAEL International Conference November 8, 2013 Marc Singer Center for the Assessment of Learning Thomas Edison State College The Problem • How to maintain local control and uniqueness when increased need for accountability, tightened funding, technological change, and the College Completion agenda put the pressure on to standardize • Local Control vs. Economies of Scale Past • Colleges sought to shape their students’ worldview—Yale created the “Yale Man” • Principal characteristics of a Yale man: "selfconfidence and a worldliness that is neither bookish nor anti-intellectual."--William Buckley a direct and confident “Yale” set in a modified version of the Yale typeface Present • Producing the “Yale Man” or the “Wellesley Girl” or the “Oberlin Student Graduate Person indeterminate is not the goal if we focus on competencies, PLA, transfer of credit, assessment. • Many institutions outsource much of what used to be proprietary: – – – – – Food service Parking lots Technology services Instructional Design resources Grading “What is our business? Our business is the business of ideas. We all talked about returning to the core -teaching and learning -- and developing a new funding strategy to support that. When is the last time a parking space found a cure for cancer?” --Geoff Chatas, senior VP and CFO, Ohio State University, Quoted in Inside Higher Ed, 15 July 2013 The Pressures • Funding and resource limitations, especially at state institutions and small private colleges • Need for accountability: Focus on learning outcomes, tighter oversight by regional accreditors, articulation with workforce and industry needs • Technological change: students have options online and elsewhere, expectations for flexible modes of delivery, opportunity to “swirl” and transfer back and forth • College Completion Agenda: grants come with expectations that structures will be created The Question • Where is the balance? How important is it for a college to have its own unique approach, native curriculum, faculty control? What is our core mission? • Teaching and Learning • Helping students achieve success • CAEL: Linking learning and work Acceptance of PLA • If you accept PLA, you already are giving up control over some learning. Learning can come from anywhere, and you didn't direct or control it. • Is learning from elsewhere just as good as what happens at your institution? Data suggests yes: – Fueling the Race to Postsecondary Success shows high success rates for PLA students – 60% of community college students who transfer to four-year schools graduate within four years (National Student Clearinghouse Research Center)—compares with 59% overall graduation rate – May be a tribute to accreditors, independent validators of learning Advantages of Scale • Economies of scale: costs us less if we outsource to national entities. • Learning Counts, CLEP, DSST, StraighterLine, ACE and NCCRS all provide services that have high standards in allowing students to acquire knowledge or demonstrate it in a manner that we feel comfortable accepting. • We rely on national organizations to help us set standards. AAC&U provides VALUE rubrics and frameworks to set our general education standards. • IT, Data Management, LMS’s—all have standards More Scale • Colleges created the regional accreditors and the College Board ourselves. They were a way to share resources and create and maintain standards (and in some cases, to protect our interests and keep out the riff-raff) • But those organizations are more centralized and more powerful in many ways. Disruptive Innovation A Sector… • with complicated products/ services… • that were expensive and inaccessible… • And served only a limited few sophisticated customers… Is transformed into one which… • Offers products and services that… • Are simple, affordable and convenient serving…. • Many--no matter their wealth and expertise --Louis Soares, 2012 Advantages of local control • • • • Research (to a certain extent) Unique, niche programs Regional or local distinctiveness Close ties with local employers, cultural institutions • Sense of identity • Other? A Middle Ground? • Partnerships with other Colleges--Difficult to create without mandate • Excelsior and Thomas Edison State College: testing and portfolio – Each has its own expertise – Assign one program to each? Share staff and resources? – Logistics, ego, job security got in the way Where Partnering Can Work • When the other organization has a different mission or set of goals • Example: Saylor Foundation and TESC • Where there are mutual benefits • No one is subordinate to the other • We can assess the final products ourselves • Medium Scale Program Review Consortium • Includes six institutions that conduct reviews of training, licenses, and certificates: – – – – – – Thomas Edison State College SUNY Empire State College Excelsior College Vermont Community Colleges Charter Oak State College Granite State College • Goals: Share reviews with one another, share resources, establish a common definition of college-level learning, ensure standards NJ PLA Network • Includes most two-year and four-year public institutions in NJ • TESC coordinate sharing of standards and methods for evaluating prior learning—all contribute • Institutions without PLA programs send students to Thomas Edison State College for same price • Faculty at other institutions will be trained to evaluate portfolios, review training • Network might expand to other NJ institutions, neighbors in Pennsylvania and Delaware • Issues: transcripting, “ownership” of process Other Plans • More work with OER partners • Graduate!Philadelphia • Small-scale collaboration with SUNY Empire State College on competencies • Ensure regular communication among current partners Medium is beautiful.