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ACE Launches Presidential Innovation Lab

July 02, 2013

Adult Learners

Fourteen Presidents from Diverse Institutions to Explore Potential of New Educational Technologies to Help Address Attainment Gaps

ACE today announced the launch of the Presidential Innovation Lab, a groundbreaking effort to examine new models inspired by the disruptive potential of new educational technologies such as massive open online courses (MOOCs) to boost the number of Americans able to earn a college degree.

Fourteen chief executive officers from a diverse group of colleges and universities are participating in the Presidential Innovation Lab. The Lab will be an opportunity for higher education leaders to engage in proactive thinking about this new learning space and guide a national dialogue about potential academic and financial models that can help close persistent attainment gaps, including those among low-income young adults.

The Presidential Innovation Lab is part of a wide-ranging research and evaluation effort examining the academic potential of MOOCs announced by ACE in November 2012.

The initial session will be held July 21-23 at the Institute for the Future in Palo Alto, CA, an independent, nonprofit research organization that will help guide the work of the Lab. A second two-day meeting will take place in Washington, DC, in October. The Lab’s findings will be shared with the ACE membership, policymakers and the press.

Participating in the Presidential Innovation Lab are:

  • Joseph E. Aoun, president, Northeastern University (MA)
  • Chris Bustamante, president, Rio Salado College (AZ)
  • Scott S. Cowen, president, Tulane University (LA)
  • Michael M. Crow, president, Arizona State University
  • John F. Ebersole, president, Excelsior College (NY)
  • Renu Khator, president, University of Houston and chancellor, University of Houston System (TX)
  • Paul J. LeBlanc, president, Southern New Hampshire University
  • Robert W. Mendenhall, president, Western Governors University (UT)
  • Mohammad H. Qayoumi, president, San Jose State University (CA)
  • Vincent Price, provost, The University of Pennsylvania
  • L. Rafael Reif, president, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Kevin P. Reilly, president, University of Wisconsin System
  • Clayton Spencer, president, Bates College (ME)
  • Linda M. Thor, chancellor, Foothill-De Anza Community College District (CA)

“This is an opportunity for senior higher education leaders to engage in comprehensive and critical thinking about the potential of this new learning modality to boost attainment levels, particularly among older, post-traditional students, low-income young adults and other underserved students,” said ACE President Molly Corbett Broad.

“The work of the Presidential Innovation Lab, supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will guide a national dialog about the type of academic and financial models that might grow out of the current high level of interest in MOOCs and other new technologies and learning methods,” added Cathy A. Sandeen, ACE vice president for education attainment and innovation.

Lab participants will consider questions such as how newer educational innovations could be used by students toward degree completion and the potential impact of such innovations on the fundamental design and delivery of instruction, institutions’ recognition of learning, and the underlying financing models for all of higher education.

Working with institutional leaders, organizations like Coursera, Udacity, edX and the University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA), and supported by funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, ACE is leveraging its thought leadership position as the major coordinating body for all the nation's higher education institutions to identify and answer questions about the disruptive potential of this new and innovative approach to higher education.

Credit Evaluation

As part of this overall effort, ACE’s College Credit Recommendation Service (ACE CREDIT®) has evaluated and made credit recommendations for five MOOCs delivered by Coursera, four MOOCs delivered by Udacity and one offered by edX.

ACE CREDIT has connected workplace learning and higher education since 1974 by helping adults gain credit for courses and exams taken outside traditional degree programs. Clients include Fortune 500 companies like Starbucks and McDonald's, education providers like Skillsoft and government agencies like the Federal Aviation Administration.

During the ACE CREDIT review process, a team of academic faculty from relevant disciplines carefully evaluates courses and exams and makes recommendations for college credit. (Actual credit is awarded at the discretion of individual colleges and universities.) In this way, qualified nontraditional education becomes eligible to count toward traditional degree programs. Through the ACE CREDIT Registry and Transcript System, adult learners who have successfully completed courses or exams with valid ACE CREDIT recommendations can obtain official transcripts for documentation.

More than 2,000 colleges and universities consider ACE CREDIT recommendations in determining the applicability to their course and degree programs.

Research Agenda

Among the questions ACE will address in research undertaken in collaboration with the University of Illinois Springfield's Center for Online Learning, Research, and Service are to what extent do MOOCs reach low-income young adult and older adult learners, what the level of satisfaction is of students enrolled in MOOCs, and whether MOOCs have the potential to help lead to degrees or certificates. This work will be performed using data from several MOOC platforms.

Working with UPCEA, ACE will assess the applicability of ACE CREDIT recommendations to degree completion programs aimed at adult learners.

Seven institutions have agreed to grant credit for MOOCS for a pilot program researching and evaluating the applicability of ACE CREDIT recommendations of MOOCs to degree programs aimed at adult learners: Central Michigan University; Western Carolina University; SUNY Empire State College; University of Maryland University College; Kaplan University; American Public University System and Regis University (CO).

MEDIA CONTACT: Jon Riskind ▪ 202-939-9453 ▪ jriskind@acenet.edu

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