October 2, 2014

SUNY Empire State College Innovations Attract Grant Funding, Expand Student Access, Advance Open SUNY

Innovative Instruction Technology Grants Advance Teaching and Learning Best Practices Across the SUNY System

Faculty mentor Audeliz Matais, at the podium, opens “The Future of STEM: Women and Minority Adult Students 2014 Conference.” Carlos Medina, associate provost and associate vice chancellor for the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at SUNY System Administration, addresses the audience as Joseph Skrivanek, who heads the SUNY Replication Project looks on. Photo/Empire State College

At the podium, faculty Mentor Audeliz Matais opens “The Future of STEM: Women and Minority Adult Students 2014 Conference,” which was funded by a 2013 Innovative Instruction Technology Grant. Carlos Medina, chief diversity officer and senior associate vice chancellor for diversity, equity, and inclusion at SUNY System administration, addresses the audience as Joseph Skrivanek, who heads the SUNY Replication Project, looks on. Photo/Empire State College

(SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Oct. 2, 2014) SUNY Empire State College faculty and staff have again received Innovative Instruction Technology Grant (IITG) grant funding for projects that enhance, support and extend innovative and collaborative online teaching and learning environments.

The funding enables the college’s faculty, staff and their SUNY and non-SUNY collaborators to scale up the projects and, in so doing, provide new avenues for development and delivery of collaborative content, courses and programs in New York and across the globe through Open SUNY.

Open SUNY is the systemwide effort designed to maximize online-enabled learning opportunities for all SUNY students, current and future.

“Finding innovative ways to improve teaching, learning and collaborating is a 43-year tradition at Empire State College,” said Merodie A. Hancock, president of the college. “I congratulate the college’s many award recipients and collaborators for earning recognition and funding for their research and ideas. I am confident these projects will be added to the long list of contributions Empire State College is making to Open SUNY.”

“The IITG program is an opportunity for faculty to take their most innovative teaching and learning techniques to the next level, not only fostering their ideas on their home campus, but teaming with colleagues across SUNY to implement them elsewhere within our system,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. “We look forward to bringing the opportunity of these outstanding ideas to even more of our students, faculty and staff as a result of this year’s grants.”

The SUNY Empire State College projects and principal investigators for tier three awards are:

  • Prior Learning Assessment: A Competency-Based, E-Portfolio Framework, Director of the Office of Collegewide Academic Review Nan Travers. This project is based on the Global Learning Qualifications Framework, which was developed by the college and funded through a Lumina grant as an Open SUNY project. The Global Learning Qualifications Framework “scaffolds” students through the process of having learning gained outside a traditional academic setting evaluated for college credit, provides professional development to faculty and a framework for trained evaluators to assess learning. The proposal seeks to scale up a proof-of-concept project across additional SUNY campuses.
  • iMOOC: A Multiuser Platform for International Students to Navigate U.S.-style Virtual Learning Environments, Valeri Chukhlomin, faculty mentor and academic area coordinator in business, management and economics. This cross-campus collaborative project proposes developing and launching an open access course (iMOOC) with a range of supporting open education resources to prepare international online learners to successfully integrate into virtual learning environments, such as Open SUNY.
  • Designing Innovative Online Learning: Integrating a Coursera Massive Open Online Course with Open SUNY Badging, Thomas P. Mackey, dean of the college’s Center for Distance Learning with SUNY Distinguished Librarian Trudi E. Jacobson, head of the Information Literacy Department, University at Albany. This project merges two innovative and flexible learning models: a metaliteracy Coursera MOOC open to all SUNY students and its integration with competency-based badging. This unified approach to learning appeals to students and employers alike, and serves as a robust model to advance Open SUNY. Being “metaliterate” means having the ability to successfully consume and create quality information in collaborative, online environments. “Badges” are used recognize learning that happens anywhere. “Open Badges,” a free, new online standard to recognize and verify learning, is (conjugate with ‘standard’) used by the Mozilla Foundation.

Nathan Whitley-Grassi, an instructional technologist with the college’s Buffalo regional office, received a tier one award for: Ecology and Earth Science Virtual Field Experiences Open Education Resources: Expanding Access to Field-Based Research Techniques for Students at a Distance.

The project’s goal is to develop and share six ecology/earth science virtual field experiences as open education resources, based on the need to develop resources and expand access to scientific field-based research techniques for students learning at a distance or with other barriers to access. These OERs will be part of the larger SUNY community as a resource in an online repository in the SUNY Learning Commons (SLC) that could be utilized by future Open SUNY programs.

Whitey-Grassi has received an IITG award in each of the three years the program has been in existence.

About IITG Grants

The Innovative Instruction Technology Grant program is competitive and open to SUNY faculty and professional staff across all disciplines. IITG encourages development of innovations that meet the Power of SUNY’s transformative vision. Grant recipients will openly share project outcomes in the SUNY Learning Commons, enabling SUNY colleagues to replicate and build upon an innovation.

Nearly all IITG-funded projects include collaborations by two or more campuses and/or with local organizations and businesses. Project outcomes are shared openly across SUNY, enabling colleagues statewide to replicate and build upon the innovations.

Of the 63 proposals submitted for this year’s competition, 21 were funded, with four being renewed from previous IITG grants.

Tier three awards provide up to $60,000 and require the collaborating campuses to provide an additional 33 percent of the grant award in matching funds.

Tier two awards provide up to $20,000 and require collaborators to provide 25 percent of the total in matching funds.

Tier one awards provide up to $10,000 and matching funds are not required.

About SUNY Empire State College

Empire State College, the nontraditional, open college of the SUNY system, educates nearly 20,000 students worldwide at eight international sites, more than 35 locations in the state of New York, online, as well as face to face and through a blend of both, at the associate, bachelor’s and master’s levels.

The average age of an undergraduate student at the college is 35 and graduate students’ average age is 40.

Most Empire State College students are working adults. Many are raising families and meeting civic commitments in the communities where they live, while studying part time.

In addition to awarding credit for prior college-level learning, the college pairs each undergraduate student with a faculty mentor who supports that student throughout his or her college career.

Working with their mentors, students design an individual degree program and engage in guided independent study and course work onsite, online or through a combination of both, which provides the flexibility for students to choose where, when and how to learn.

Students have the opportunity to enroll five times during the year.

The college’s 73,000 alumni are active in their communities as entrepreneurs, politicians, business professionals, artists, nonprofit agency employees, teachers, veterans and active military, union members and more.

The college was first established in 1971 by the SUNY Board of Trustees with the encouragement of the late Ernest L. Boyer, chancellor of the SUNY system from 1970 to 1977.

Boyer also served as United States commissioner of education during the administration of President Jimmy Carter and then as president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

More information about the college is available at www.esc.edu.


Media contact: David Henahan, director of communications

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