WCET recognizes creative higher-ed tech programs

Three programs have been recognized for their ed-tech creativity in higher education.

A program that offers math development to disadvantaged students, a streaming video service for higher education, and an educational app repository are winners of the 2012 WCET Outstanding Work (WOW) winners, a program from the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET).

WOW is an annual nationwide competition that honors colleges, universities, and organizations for their creative and innovative uses of educational technology in higher education.

“The significance of the WOW Award is more than just some cool, new technology tools,” said James Bowey, professor at Winona State University and chair of the WOW Awards Committee, in the official WCET press release. “At the heart of the award and this year’s three honored projects is that each addresses a real and important need that is shared widely across higher education. It’s the innovative, often collaborative, way in which these projects were carried forward that merits the award, as well as the fact that each serves as a model for others to replicate.”

To be eligible to receive a WOW Award, WCET specifies that a college, university, or organization must address a significant need or problem in higher education, incorporate creative and/or innovative uses of technology or resources, and demonstrate a positive impact toward addressing the need. Also, each must represent a significant contribution to the field of technology-enhanced postsecondary education and develop methods that can be adapted or used as a model for others.

The 2012 WOW Award recepients are:

  • The Monterey Institute of Technology and Education for NROC Developmental Math
  • New Jersey Research and Education Network (NJEDge.Net) for NJVID
  • Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) for the TBR Mobile App Education and Workforce Resource Center

NROC Developmental Math program

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The belief that “everyone is entitled to an education, regardless of [his or her] financial or social circumstances” underlies the Monterey Institute of Technology and Education’s NROC Developmental Math program. Comprehensive programs that offer financially disadvantaged students tools to sharpen their math skills in preparation for college course work are extended to the general public free of cost.

Program participants are required to complete a diagnostic pre-exam to clarify their math-related strengths and weaknesses. Based on these results, a personalized course plan is formulated to confront and remedy a person’s “problem areas.” Individualized programs incorporate media tools such as interactive simulations and puzzles, and enforce state and federal standards.

The NROC Developmental Math program is an open educational resource-based nonprofit, funded by the William and Flora Hewlett and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations. The math programs are already used in multiple pre- and postsecondary educational institutions, in addition to both traditional and non-traditional environments.

New Jersey’s Digital Video Repository (NJVID)

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NJVID preserves and streams academic and research videos for higher education. This statewide collaborative effort expands beyond universities to provide video resources to libraries, museums, and K-12 institutions. NJVID is home to more than 5,000 cataloged commercial educational videos from PBS, Ambrose, Intelecom, and Films Media Group, among other sources.

Aside from the ability to stream previously cataloged videos, educators are able to upload and share their own virtual clips and full-length videos with students. Educators also can compile personalized playlists of their favorite videos. NJVID simplifies video search options and offers greater opportunities for educators to incorporate integrated media into their classrooms.

“In creating a unified portal for faculty uploaded, locally owned and commercial licensed videos, NJVID has today grown to fulfill a much greater need of educators and students alike: the use of video as a major tool in teaching and learning,” according to the WCET press release.

TBR Mobile App Education and Workforce Resource Center

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With the advent of the smart phone, the Tennessee Board of Regents’ TBR Mobile App Education and Workforce Resource Center gives educators, students, parents, and workers an assortment of educational and job-related mobile applications. Simplified search options introduce users to more than 60,000 apps across 125 disciplines. Each mobile app is tagged according to educational level, subject area, and device type.

The TBR Mobile App Education and Workforce Resource Center aspires to become the premiere repository for educational and career training mobile apps for higher education, in addition to adult workforce training and K-12 education.

The center is careful to ensure that their apps retain high quality and relevancy. “The center uses a peer review rubric developed by MERLOT to elevate the apps for compliance with ADA standards, device neutrality, cost, privacy, and student engagement and outcomes,” the official WCET press release reads.

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