Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia Higher Education Breakthrough Models

University System of Georgia application deck

Targeted Degree Program: Communication with a Civic Leadership focus
Organizations: The University System of Georgia and Columbus State University
First-Year Enrollment Goal: 500
Anticipated Students Served in First Five Years: 5,000
Geographies Served: Georgia
Targeted Students: low-income students, the young adult military population, and those whom higher education has not traditionally served well in terms of race and ethnicity

The University System of Georgia (USG) and an institution in the system, Columbus State University, will develop and implement a new model for an accessible bachelor’s degree with a high completion rate. The program, which is delivered 90% on-line and punctuated at key risk points with in-person credit-bearing service learning experiences, seeks to develop leaders in community development, regional economic development, and public-private partnerships.

The program is structured to provide intermediary markers of achievement, awarding the student a certificate credential within the first year, awarding an associate’s degree before the end of year two, and awarding the bachelor’s degree upon completion. This staged method reinforces motivation to progress, increases marketability should a student leave, and increases ease of return and timely graduation should a stop-out occur. The learning experiences are designed to match this staged approach: first build knowledge, then integrate knowledge from various fields, then apply that knowledge through real-world experiences, and finally teach and lead others.

Four Innovations of Degreein3
Overview of four innovative practices

Four learning modalities are employed to balance cost and to support and retain the target student population:

  • asynchronous short-session on-line courses,
  • face-to-face service learning experiences in the senior year
  • self-paced on-line modules of competency-based learning and
  • portfolio opportunities tomprovide individualized student learning

Through a partnership between the University System of Georgia and Desire2Learn (a learning management system provider), instructors will be able to use advanced learning analytics to support students in real-time begining in late 2014. Student support team members (instructors, advisors, and support staff) will be responsible for monitoring and supporting 400 students through these learning analytics. This high ratio is afforded by the automated capabilities of Design2Learn and builds on the existing success of University System of Georgia's electronic core curriculum (eCore), which allows students to compete their first two years in an online environment.

In order to ensure a streamlined transition between high school and college, students may earn credit through dual enrollment prior to admission to the program.  Up to 30 hours of credit will be available for award through competency based formats including outcomes based modules, in-house prior learning assessment, portfolio options tied to service learning, as well as nationally recognized assessments from external organizations etc. Students can transfer the core curriculum across Georgia’s network of institutions.

The University System of Georgia will implement a cross-institution sustainable open resource development model intended to allow up to half of the courses in the core curriculum to utilize primarily open educational resources. This cost-saving model engages faculty and reflects students’ current methods of learning. Another cost-saving feature is the use of e-books and low-coast codes to publisher sites. For further support of this predominantly on-line program focused on low income young adults, Columbus State University will loan technology including notebooks to students in order for them to be able to access courses and supplementary materials at no cost.