Big deals: New programs tackle counterfeiting, support teacher development, and enhance distance learning

News from George Mason University's Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center, Alliant International University and San Diego Unified School District, and Brightpoint Community College

George Mason University’s Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center (TraCCC) announced its second annual Bring Down Counterfeiting Hackathon. This event awarded $50,000 in prizes last year in a policy-focused competition that attracted over 200 registrants from around the world. This year TraCCC is partnering with the US Chamber of Commerce Global Innovation Policy Center to challenge teams from U.S. academic institutions, companies, or other affiliations to design and propose novel technical and policy solutions that prevent counterfeit and pirated goods from entering the stream of commerce and reaching the hands of consumers. They are also seeking tools that help recognize the spoofing of official US government websites, trademarks, and other services. The hackathon has announced a grand prize of $20,000 for the best solution presented. Strategy and analytic firm Blue Clarity returns to administer the competition.

This year, challenge organizers are looking for novel technical solutions such as new technology to advance counterfeited product identification devices or advanced algorithms to secure supply chains and identify counterfeit goods. The most desirable solutions should have direct applicability to stated challenges that government agencies like the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and others are actively working to overcome. 

Dr. Louise Shelley, Director of TraCCC at George Mason University explains TraCCC’s commitment to studying and addressing the industry-wide, global challenge of counterfeiting: “Counterfeiting is a crime that affects us all. This hackathon will bring students together with policymakers, academic institutions, domain and private sector experts, and other professionals to raise awareness of the threats and generate powerful new ideas to stop this criminal activity. The results will also be used to inform our ongoing research on counterfeit and other criminal supply chain networks.”

This challenge launched in August and is open to anyone. Registration for the event is free and not only offers the opportunity to win $20,000 but also to learn about what can be done to combat counterfeiting. The Terrorism and Transnational Crime and Corruption Center, a research center at George Mason University, is the first center in the United States devoted to understanding the links between terrorism, transnational crime and corruption, as well as teaching, researching, training, and helping to formulate policy on these critical issues. TraCCC’s research is disseminated to the public through conferences, congressional testimony, TraCCC’s book series and other publications.

Alliant International University and San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) have partnered through SDUSD’s TEACH-LEAD program in order to support aspiring teachers on their educational journey. TEACH-LEAD San Diego (TLSD) is San Diego Unified’s latest endeavor focused on eliminating barriers that hold future educators back from pursuing their goals. The new program offers both financial and personalized pathway resources to individuals beginning or continuing their journey towards a career as a teacher. TEACH-LEAD San Diego is the district’s new “grow your own” teacher pipeline program, dedicated to supporting individuals in becoming teachers in their local communities.

Through this partnership, employees of SDUSD can pursue their single subject or education specialist credential at Alliant with or without a master’s degree in education with a 20% tuition savings and application fee waiver. Those who currently hold a teaching credential can complete a bilingual added authorization in Spanish or Mandarin so they can teach in a dual-language classroom. In addition, SDUSD & Alliant have an internship agreement allowing candidates to serve as the teacher of record (once intern eligible) with salary and benefits while completing their credential program. “We believe that every student deserves a qualified and impactful teacher in the classroom, no matter their background, circumstance, or zip-code,” said Dr. Kristy Pruitt, dean of the California School of Education at Alliant International University. “We also believe that every aspiring teacher deserves the opportunity and support they need to become a teacher. That is why this partnership with TEACH-LEAD is such a natural fit, and we look forward to growing our impact together.”

Alchemy, a leading education technology and services provider, announced its partnership with Brightpoint Community College, a member of the Virginia Community College System (VCCS). This strategic collaboration aims to accelerate the transformation of Brightpoint’s distance learning offerings, transitioning 10 of their online degree programs from a traditional 15-week session to a more agile 7-week format in order to better meet the needs of today’s learners who seek more flexible educational opportunities. The initiative also endeavors to reduce student costs, foster enriched student-instructor interactivity and enhance overall course engagement by emphasizing open educational resources (OER).

Alchemy brings to Brightpoint a unique combination of technology and services that enable a dynamic learning design partnership. Alchemy’s team of expert learning designers will work closely with faculty to tailor each course to meet the specific learning objectives and requirements of the subject matter. At the same time, faculty will have access to Alchemy’s groundbreaking technology platform, Curie, a centralized workspace that houses interactive resources designed to optimize the process of developing humanized, inclusive and engaged learning experiences.

Brightpoint faculty will also be supported by Alchemy’s Faculty Concierge service, through which faculty members will have 24/7 access to expert guidance and specialized resources whenever they need them. This robust support system will enable faculty to continuously iterate and enhance their courses, incorporating new technologies and evolving their teaching approach.

“We are thrilled to join forces with Brightpoint in their ongoing efforts to enhance distance learning for modern learners,” said Carrie O’Donnell, founder and CEO of Nectar, Inc., parent company to Alchemy. “This collaboration will not only continue to elevate the quality of their courses but also provide their faculty with personalized resources and just-in-time support to continue to create increasingly meaningful and engaging learning experiences for their students going forward.”

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Kevin Hogan
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