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University projects garner attention in several higher ed forums

Wednesday, 03 July 2013

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Dr. Ray Rice, Chair of the University of Maine at Presque Isle's College of Arts and Sciences, participated in three higher education presentations during the 2012-2013 academic year, providing the University with important regional and national exposure for its LOOC (Local Open Online Course) project—also known as the UMPI OpenU initiative—and its data-driven transformation strategies with Project Compass.

At the New England Board of Higher Education conference The University Unbound: Can Higher Education Compete and Survive the Age of "Free" and Open Learning?, held Oct. 15, 2012, at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, he co-presented Open, Flat and Free: Improving Higher Ed and Lowering Its Price with Mary Lou Forward, Executive Director of Open Courseware Consortium, and Jeff Shelstad, Co-founder and CEO of Flat World Knowledge. Dr. Rice discussed UMPI's OpenU program as a "local online open curriculum" and its distinction from its qualitatively different larger siblings, the "MOOCs" (Massive Open Online Courses).

On April 5 at the Association of American Colleges and Universities conference Student Success and The Quality Agenda, held in Miami, he co-presented a workshop titled Data-driven Transformative Strategies for Campus-wide Faculty/Staff Collaborations to Enhance Student Success with Carmen R. Cid, Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at Eastern Connecticut State University; Heather Bouchey, Director of the Patrick and Marcelle Leahy Center for Rural Students at Lyndon State College; and Alicia Doyley, Director of the Academic Achievement Center at Bridgewater State University. Dr. Rice discussed ways that UMPI developed more effective student support services for its underserved student populations through its Project Compass efforts.

Most recently, on May 22, Dr. Rice co-presented with UMPI's Dr. Melissa Crowe a webinar for the New England Resource Center for Higher Education's Virtual Think Tank Series. Titled The LOOC (Local Open Online Course): Full Access to Free Online Courses, the two discussed UMPI's process toward developing its "LOOCs"; the politics of scalability, asynchronicity vs. connectivity, and massive delivery capacity vs. local engagement; and how the MOOC movement could be repurposed to engage and promote the best values of a liberal education while serving as a tool for institutions of all sizes to better serve their community. The webinar can be viewed at http://www.nerche.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1116:2013-virtual-think-tank-series&catid=938:think-tanks&Itemid=351

"MOOCs are no different from any other technology-based academic reform. They can be used to engage and promulgate the best values of a liberal education and as tools which truly make higher education accessible to a wider audience. Or they can be tools which further divide the haves from the have-nots," Dr. Rice said. "As a public institution with a mission to provide the best access and the best education possible to our community, we are determined to see them as instruments of empowerment and opportunity."

To learn more about UMPI's OpenU initiative, please visit www.umpi.edu/openu.