by Alana J. Mauger and Diane VanDyke
Montgomery County Community College is one of seven institutions in the country named to the inaugural Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC) Breakthrough Models Incubator (BMI) national grant program to improve students’ success and completion.
“This initiative directly relates to the College’s strategic plan, which emphasizes student access and success and focuses on creating effective pathways for students to seamlessly transition from high school to college, from non-credit to credit, from college to college, from college to career and from career to college,” said Dr. Karen A. Stout, President. “The New Literacy MOOC will help students acquire the information they need to successfully progress and achieve their goals.”
The BMI program will assist institutions through the design and launch of technology-based, support programs specifically created to improve completion rates, the quality of student learning and the time it takes to complete associate’s and bachelor’s degrees. Led by the non-profit organization Educause, with support from the League for Innovation in the Community College and funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, each participating institution will receive $150,000 in grant funds and a range of support from the incubator.
Through its participation in the project, Montgomery County Community College looks to improve first-time students’ understanding of financial, civic, and digital literacies – skills that are necessary for success in college and beyond. Through a combination of College-developed and open-source curriculum, MCCC will create a “New Literacy” Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). New students will be expected to successfully complete each tuition-free module before or during their first semester at the College.
The New Literacy MOOC does not replace the College’s Strategies for Success Course (SSC 101). Rather, the modules are intended to improve students’ financial planning skills; enhance their understanding of technology; and recognize the importance of engaging in their communities – all of which are shown to improve retention and completion.
The tuition-free MOOC delivery format ensures that every MCCC student has access to important support tools and information without creating cost/credit barriers or taxing College resources. To help facilitate seamless transitions to college, high school students will be granted access to the MOOC, and it will also be made available to other institutions through Creative Commons.
The six other selected schools selected for the inaugural NGLC BMI program are Austin Peay State University, Ball State University, Charter Oak State College, SUNY-Empire State College, Harper College and the University of Maryland-University College.