IRB Approved!!!!! #CBE #Research

I am unreasonably excited this morning as my IRB was officially approved when I was at Educause 2016 this week!  I can’t even tell you how incredibly happy I am to begin the research itself!

The reason I mention this is…..  I will be reaching out to some of you for participation in this:)  Wha ha ha!

Getting some new momentum on this, and super-happy about it!  Goal date has changed for completion.  (I’m almost a year behind my original schedule, but to be fair, I took a new job and moved my family across the country.  So there was that.  And then got some new responsibilities of… (wait for it!) CBE!  Added to my previous title is now “Alternative Learning Models.”  It literally did not fit on the business cards.  My new title is:  Assistant Vice President for Academic Technology, Course Production and Alternative Learning Models.

If I could have assembled my ideal job description, this would be it.

It wouldn’t be possible without the amazing team that I have the privilege to work with and my wonderful boss.  (Who would have thought I would be so enthusiastic about developing the young talent on my team, but it turns out it’s one of my passions!)

So feeling #grateful on so many levels.



Lessons in Leadership from Beyond the Grave

Recently my father-in-law passed away.   At the ceremonies surrounding his wake, lying in state and funeral, there was an overwhelming response from people who have worked for and with him over the years.  I never took the time to reflect on his leadership, but it is important for me to do so now.  To honor him.

There was a family saying, “We never left anything unsaid.” This comes from when his daughter died at the age of 9 after being hit by a van.  The family always, always left the house with a hug and a kiss and an “I love you,” because you never knew what tomorrow might bring.  There were things I didn’t say, though, or things that he never quite heard.  He was proud of us, but I wonder if he ever heard how proud I was of him. He always wanted to do more, he was constantly vigilant, he was worried about the America he was leaving for his grandchildren.  That lives with me too.

My father-in-law was Mayor, Governor, and Senator George V. Voinovich, from the great state of Ohio, and always in that order.  But there was another order, the order that came before the titles.  Dad was a man of faith, a husband, a father, and a grandfather.

These are a few of the things he taught me.

#1 Value People.

My father-in-law loved people.  He was curious about people – their stories, their backgrounds.  He cared about what they cared about, listened to what they said, thought deeply about opinions other than his own.  Often we would be somewhere together, folks would approach him with “I worked for your campaign back in 1970-something,” or “We spoke at an event in 1985” and he and Mom V would remember their names.  At events, Mom V would often have to give him “the look” and physically steer him away otherwise he’d be talking forever and no schedule for any event would be met.  This curiosity, this attention to the matters of other people’s lives, made him a great leader.  He knew who he was working for and what he was working towards, because he valued people.

#2 People Work With You, Not for You.

Valuing people extended to the people who worked with him.  Though he may not have known it, the biggest legacy he left was likely not the balanced budget in Ohio, the reforms to civil service, the in-state tuition provision for Washington, D.C. residents, or the championing of school choice.  The biggest legacy he left was undoubtedly in the people he mentored and supported and valued and loved – really loved – over the years.  He stayed in contact with so many people that had worked with him over the years.  At the ceremony at City Hall, one of the speakers said that years ago, Dad V had said to him “You don’t work for me, you work with me.”  He actually believed that; actually behaved that way.  In an era when collaboration is constantly discussed, George V. Voinovich got the jump on the secret sauce of leadership.  It’s about working with people.

He engaged both sides of the aisle, always.  He didn’t let party lines dictate his responses to legislation.  This modern fad of devaluing the opposite side, of avoiding common ground, was not his game.  It got in the way of doing the work that needed so desperately to be done.  He believed in what he did, and he believed that working together would get you further.

#3 Never Burn a Bridge.

He was not a “told you so” kind of guy.  He said more than once to me “Never burn a bridge,” then he would start chuckling and say “You’ll never know when you have to walk back over it.” (As a side note, he had the best laugh ever – really genuine and deep when he got to laughing.) There were times when he was very unhappy at work, the snail-like pace of change, the lack of willingness to work together.  He was different.  He was a man who admitted his faults, acknowledged when he had been wrong, and actually changed his opinion as a result of evidence (something so rare I could actually insert a mic drop here.)

This isn’t to say that he didn’t have very strong opinions – he did.  But he always kept it classy.  He never burned it to the ground.

#4 Work Like You Mean It.

The man was always working.  He had these weekly reports he would have his staff write up, and he would review them every weekend.  He would answer his phone anytime, anywhere (something that would regularly drive me nuts when our family was at dinner.  I showed him a meme of a place setting that doesn’t have a space for a cell phone and he laughed, but I think it hurt him a little bit, something I now regret doing.)  We would debate issues all the time – politics were his profession and his trade, he was constantly reading, writing, and processing.  More than once something we discussed would prompt a question that he would jot down somewhere.

Even when we were on vacation, he was answering emails (often dictating them with hilarious results,) reading books, and writing articles.  He had this habit of reading something, looking up and sharing it, and saying “Would you believe it?” in wonder.  Dad V was a constant and hungry learner.  He was a work horse, and proud of it.

#5 Don’t Care About the Credit.

This is actually something that I didn’t know about as much before hearing the words spoken in his honor.  So many people at the various ceremonies and rituals mentioned how he always said (and backed up with action,) that you can get so much done if you don’t care about who gets the credit.

Often, in my relationship with him, he would say “You know, your father-in-law was instrumental in bringing the Rock Hall to Cleveland” (I knew,) or “You know, I helped support the revival of Playhouse Square” (I knew,) or “You know, I helped bring the City of Cleveland out from default” (I – and the rest of Cleveland – knew.)  I think this was because he never felt he did enough, because he was constantly concerned with the world that he was leaving us, that he was leaving the grandkids.

#6 Value Differences of Opinion, and Stay Independent.

When I first joined the family at the age of 24 (my husband and I got married when I was 27, but as far as his family was concerned, I was family as soon as I started dating Peter,) we debated education policy.  At the time, I knew everything there was to know about K-12 education (I have since transformed some of that thinking, and no longer believe I know everything about everything.)  He never once dismissed out of hand my opinions.  Even when I suggested that we arm and train the women of Afghanistan and Iraq (because, in my logic, who had the most to lose from the Taliban?) which was pretty far out there, he didn’t laugh at me.

Over the years, various issues came up where I felt like I knew how Dad V should vote on something.  Some of these were generational; waxing poetic about net neutrality was probably not a great choice.  He would consider what folks would say, he would make notes to confirm information.  But at the end of the day, he thought what he thought.  He didn’t adhere to random lines in the sand. He walked a path to get from one point to another, even if it was unpopular.  He was passionate about attempting to raise the gas tax – something incredibly unpopular to champion.  Even after he was out of office he tried to advocate for it.  He believed that you shouldn’t just run up the credit card for your grandkids to pay off.  His vote was always his own; he voted his conscience.

#7 Clean Your Own Bathrooms; Clean Your Own Floors.

Dad V was not above cleaning his own bathroom.  And when the wood floors of their house needed to be given a good scrub, he got down on his hands and knees and washed them by hand when Mom said it was time.  I think our country would be in far better condition if all leaders scrubbed their own toilets, cleaned their own sinks, and changed their own toilet paper rolls.  We are, all of us, equal.

#8  Don’t Upgrade.

For more than eight years, we lived across the street from Mom and Dad V in Cleveland.  Our oldest is six, and she and our son were blessed to have had so much time with them.  It was a relationship that can only happen with proximity.  It would not have happened had they lived in some fancy house – we couldn’t have afforded to live across the street.  They didn’t believe in waste, personally or governmentally.

The thing that wasn’t said at his services was his immense generosity.  Yes, he was fiscally conservative, but he and Mom were also so generous and supportive, to the grandkids, to us when we started out, and I think those things were linked.  Don’t upgrade.  Live beneath your means.  Have the freedom to make choices about how to spend your time and how to live your life.  Don’t be beholden.

#9 There Is Crying in Baseball

One of the articles about my dad after he passed mentioned that he was “often subject to his emotions.”  And he was.  He cried, more than once, and more than once in public.  He was passionate about doing good in the world, and when he was conflicted and believed deeply, he would show it.

This was pointed out as a postscript of note – that, despite being a great leader, he had this weakness of emotion.  But he knew differently, and those of us who loved him knew differently.  He was a great leader because he was subject to his emotions, not despite them.  He believed, and he led with the conviction of someone wanting to do good for his family and his country.  He was led by faith.

Doesn’t that seem so very strange?  It’s almost confusing to think of that kind of sincerity.  Genuine emotion when you believe in what you’re doing is not a weakness, it is strength.  It is human and it is real.

#10 Family Comes First.

My father-in-law liked winning.  He was a competitive guy.  But he understood – always – his priorities.  It’s something he passed onto his kids.  The thing I first fell in love with about my husband is that he knew what was important.  People come first.  Family comes first.

I don’t know if it comes from losing a child – losing a sibling.  That kind of loss – as a parent, I cannot even imagine the horror.  So we never left anything unsaid in our family.

Dad died four weeks after we moved away from Cleveland.

We left Cleveland because of my career.  When we first told Dad that we were going, he was not very happy about it.  He was the kind of man who would move heaven and earth if he needed to, and he did his best to encourage us to stay.  But when all was said and done, he actually did understand the move, the opportunity, the necessity of it all.  He was always slightly perplexed by me, I think, and me by him.

When he died the ground dropped from beneath me.

When folks came to his wake, people I know and people I don’t know, many of them said “Oh, you’re the ones that moved to New Hampshire!” or “You’re up in New England now, right?” or “Didn’t you just move to Vermont?” or “How is the new job going?”  And I realized that not only do most people have no idea of the geography of those “little states,” he had told people about our move and he was proud of us.

He told me he loved me, the last time I hugged him and kissed him.   I don’t think he wanted us to go.  But he was proud of us.

The person – the human – is the leader, the two cannot be separated.




UMUC’s Blueprint for Designing a Culture of Constant Innovation | EdSurge News

  • Specifically, UMUC is about to embark on a 36-month transformation that will see its core learning model shift from memorizing knowledge to one that is experiential and competency-based. At the same time, it is re-imagining the digital experience of its 85,000 online students. Our academic and administrative teams already use project management practices to guide academic institutional development, and we believe applying this approach to a significant organizational transformation will lead to short- and long-term successes. It is our goal to embed project management into our culture, training stakeholders in an integrated model that becomes “who” we are.

    tags: blueprint designing culture constant innovation news umuc learning education

    • Specifically, UMUC is about to embark on a 36-month transformation that will see its core learning model shift from memorizing knowledge to one that is experiential and competency-based. At the same time, it is re-imagining the digital experience of its 85,000 online students. Our academic and administrative teams already use project management practices to guide academic institutional development, and we believe applying this approach to a significant organizational transformation will lead to short- and long-term successes. It is our goal to embed project management into our culture, training stakeholders in an integrated model that becomes “who” we are.
    • I want to discuss some of those errors and then describe how having the right kind of “looped evaluation process” can keep people focused on progress toward the desired “end state” as well as on the daily roll out of innovations that need real-time evaluation and testing. Doing these things seamlessly, as part of the daily routine, will provide a focused, ongoing learning experience about what is working, what is not, and how to continuously improve services and outcomes.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

1/3 Done with #CBE Program Chart

So, in what can be referred to as “the never-ending research” for my dissertation proposal, I’m 1/3 of the way through a chart of the CBE programs at colleges and universities that I can find.  It’s #exhausting, but pretty cool to see it coming together.

Find below the first chunk.  If anyone has corrections, additions, or anything else, please let me know.

The Dissertation Blues

So writing a dissertation is a lonely process.  I’m sure there are folks out there who are thrilled and excited for the entire duration of their research and writing.  There are also folks who tell me that the first three months of a new baby were magical and a stream of unending cute Pampers commercials.

I am not one of those people.

My new challenge lately has been staying awake.  Every time I sat down to write or edit I became inexplicably and profoundly tired to the point where I was working in 15 minute increments, getting up and walking around, doing anything to maintain mental focus.  It’s not exactly a thrilling endorsement when one’s own writing makes you want to fall asleep.

Still, it’s not like dissertations are stand up comedy, or even a clever dramedy.  They’re more like a dark comedy.  Only in this case, without the wry situational humor.  Or great production values.  Or attractive characters.  Or – you know – plot.

But still, there’s a bit of drama in that you MUST get it done.  And you MUST get it done right.  And in the face of this important pressure I apparently get really, really tired.

But today – it broke!  Today I stayed awake!  Today I finished a draft of Chapter 3!

I think it may have been guilt-inspired.  My husband is doing all the real work while I’m here in the thrill of a new job at a new university where I’m geeked out on the work and the people and the place.

All that I have to do is write.

Let’s do this.  Chapters 1 & 2 in revision.

#IncrementalProgress #TheLittleEngineThatCould #IThinkICan #LeanIn #HashtagsUnite #IMadeThatOneUp



New Blog on History of CBE in Evolllution

… by yours truly.  Check it out here:

There has been a lot of buzz around competency-based education for the past couple of years. Many new programs have been developing in higher education, and it seems like CBE is the “MOOC” of the moment—ubiquitously mentioned in colleges and universities—fresh-faced and fancy-free, unburdened from a legacy past. This is not exactly the case. Just as MOOCs didn’t invent free online education, CBE didn’t crop up in the past couple of years. The use of CBE models has been gaining traction since playing out at a series of innovative institutions that embraced the model long before it was the disruptive flavor of the month. – me

Federal Financial Aid and CBE

Hello All!  If you didn’t know, I had a brief break from blogging about my dissertation (I’m sure the entire internet noticed;)

I have joined the team at Southern New Hampshire University as their Assistant VP for Academic Technology and Course Production.  SNHU is an amazing organization focused on quality and innovation in online education, and I am thrilled to be working with an amazing team there.  (I’m using “amazing” quite a bit with regards to SNHU, however I am not planning on toning that down.)  I will definitely miss Tri-C and all the dedicated colleagues I had the good fortune to work with over the years; we did good work together for the students of Cuyahoga County #MissionDriven!

So I needed to buy a house and sell a house and all those many involved things that take up a lot of time, and are (generally speaking) fairly stressful.  We’re embracing them with an air of adventure and confidence that there is an end-point to this transition.  For the time being I’m calling a great Airbnb place as my home, and have set up my Surface Pro on the dining room table where I’m diving back into it.

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.

I’ve found most of my cultural references are Shakespearean.  I’m definitely the life of the party, that’s for sure!

In any case, check out this latest section on my (revised) understanding of the U.S. DOE’s distinction between “Direct Assessment” and what we’re commonly calling “Credit Conversion” (I’ve also seen “Credit-Based CBE,” so any norming on that language would be helpful.)

All comments and feedback welcome!  There may be elements I haven’t captured, so any help in making it better is greatly appreciated:)  Big shout out to Kathe Kacheroski, who also joined the SNHU team as the Associate VP for CBE/SNHU Accel for her counsel on this – though any errors are decidedly my own.

Federal Financial Aid for CBE Programs

            Federal financial aid has historically only been available to students at institutions who use traditional Carnegie credits.  As noted in the Dear Colleague letter, GEN-13-10, from 2013, the majority of CBE programs currently operating are “offered in credit or clock hours and can be accommodated under the current title IV, student financial aid regulations as non-term programs” (para. 2).  Programs that fall into this “credit conversion” category, whereby Carnegie credits are used to track progress towards degree, but where students gain those credits in a competency-based, often time-variable manner, do not need to do anything additional to make their programs eligible for financial aid.  An example of this type of program is that offered by Western Governors University, which had been operating under this “credit conversion” model since its inception in the latter 1990s.

In 2005, Section 8020 of the Higher Education Reconciliation Act (Pub. L. 109-171) for the first time enabled direct assessment CBE programs to be eligible for title IV funding.  This type of program is indicated by students progressing upon completion of assessments, and progress being tracked solely by those competencies “in lieu of measuring student learning in credit hours or clock hours ” (Dear Colleague Letter, GEN-13-10, 2013, para. 3).   For programs that wish to be considered as Direct Assessment programs, in order to receive federal financial aid (title IV funding,) they must utilize a provision made available in the 2005 HERA, and apply to be approved as an experimental site for CBe.

Experimental Sites

The federal government recently expanded federal financial aid eligibility to institutions that use solely CBE as a select number of experimental sites.  These focus of four specific types of experimentation:  (1) entirely CBE programs, (2) hybrid programs with a blend of CBE and traditional credits, (3) PLA- programs, and (4) work study for near-peer counseling (Competency-Based Education Network, 2014).

In a Dear Colleague letter from 2013, the U.S. Department of Education invited colleges and universities to apply to participate as an experimental site status in order to receive federal funds for programs that utilized CBE instead of credit hours.  In order to apply for this status, however, colleges must, in their application for experimental site status, provide an equivalency for how many credits the competencies represent and how it determined the equivalencies.  The Department then uses these to determine eligibility and award funding.

Before the Department will approve such a program, though, certain other criteria must also be met, including approval of the program by the institution’s accreditor, which must also have reviewed and approved the equivalencies.  Certain types of learning are expressly not eligible for funding through this experiment, including PLA, programs at foreign schools, any coursework prior to the program admittance that would be considered prerequisite, programs related to teaching credentials at the K-12 level, and remedial coursework (Dear Colleague Letter, GEN-13-10, 2013).

As applications followed, Southern New Hampshire University’s College for America program became the first to be formally approved as an experimental site for direct assessment; additional colleges were interested at the time including Capella University, Northern Arizona University and Brandman University (Fain, 2013).  Each of these schools was on the preliminary list of participants for experimental site status as of April 2015 (Preliminary List of Participants, 2015).

For the subsequent 2 years, however, there were few developments from the U.S. Department of Education (Laitinen, 2015).  Though colleges have asked for guidance from the department on how to proceed, and the department had committed to having guidance out by the beginning of June, 2015 (Laitinen, 2015).  Finally, the Competency-Based Education Experiment Guide was published by the U.S. Dep artment of Education in September of 2015 in order to give colleges specific requirements, policies and procedures in order to implement their programs.

Figure X:  Title IV Federal Financial Aid CBE Decision Tree

Federal Financial Aid Decision Tree.PNG

The decision for an institution to proceed either with “credit conversion” or full direct assessment is one that requires analysis, as the requirements for experimental site status enable the institution to gain flexibility around dispursement and direct/indirect cost, but still require the institution to design the program with credit equivalencies.  Those credit equivalencies are used to justify the robust nature of the program to both the accreditor and the U.S. Department of Education  (Dear Colleague Letter, GEN-13-10, 2013).

Another experiment that may have implications for CBE is the Education Quality through Innovative Partnerships (EQUIP) experiment whereby higher education institutions are invited to submit for approval to be Experimental Sites for partnerships with non-higher education institutions to provide content and learning through third-party providers (U.S. Department of Education, 2015) .  Currently, programs are not eligible for federal financial aid if more than 50% of the degree program is delivered by a third-party provider.  These Experimental Sites will not be subject to that restriction, and it will enable experiments with alternate educational providers that are emerging, particularly in IT fields.  The pilot program would utilize third-party quality assurance entities to ensure the quality of these programs, and is thought to support access to boot camps, MOOCs, and other short-term certificates (Field, 2015).

Thanks for reading!  I’ll post an expanded citation list in the next few weeks.  The literature review feels like one of those old-fashioned sponge toys I’d get as a kid in my Christmas stocking or for my birthday.  Do you know those?  They’re super-small, almost like pills, but they are really these super expanding sponges, and they make a giant sponge character when you soak them in water.  They just keep growing.  That’s where the lit review is at right now.  But I’m going to cut that down to size – we need to get this show on the road!





The Great LMS Review Adventure

Thrilled to have had the opportunity to guest blog for WCET! Check it out!

WCET Frontiers

Who wants the best LMS?  We all do!  How do you pick the best LMS?
*cricket chirp, cricket chirp*

A choice of a Learning Management System (LMS) is a critical one for colleges and universities on so many levels – it is the most important academic technology system in the majority of higher education technical infrastructures and has tentacles into every facet of learning and teaching.  This brief post will share some lessons learned from a 14-month long LMS review process at Cuyahoga Community College.

Picture this – a large community college with approximately 23% of FTE attributed to online courses, and another 8% attributed to blended or hybrid courses.  With an annual student population of 52,000, this Midwestern college has a strong shared governance structure with a well-established faculty union.  Now picture this – the college has used Blackboard since 1997.  It’s a “Wild Wild West” model of online courses…

View original post 2,170 more words

2015 Recap of Online Learning: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Check out this post I wrote for Tri-C’s eLearning and Innovation page!

Online Learning and Academic Technology (formerly Office of eLearning & Innovation)

2015 has seen some interesting developments in online learning.  Here is a recap of some key trends, as well as critical components for higher education to consider in innovating online learning to improve student success in online programs and courses.

Some large surveys have revealed important data about student preferences and perceptions, as well as that of faculty and administrators.  There is a strange symmetry in these results. 

What Students Want Online

An important answer for any institution to know is if students would come to an on-campus class if their program wasn’t available online.  Of online learners, 30% said they would probably or definitely would not attend face-to-face.  Also important to note is that online learning is growing at a much higher rate than higher education overall – the IPEDS data release recently for Fall 2014 indicated that overall enrollments in colleges and universities were down 2.2% over…

View original post 769 more words