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October 15, 2018

Empire State College Awarded $120,000 in SUNY Funds to Support Faculty and Staff Innovations

Projects Include a Global MOOC, Workforce Development in STEM, Catalog of Competency-based Educational Resources

Image of a group of people.
Robert Perilli, the college’s associate director for administrative applications, leads a group discussion with SUNY Empire Staff.

(SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Oct. 15, 2018) SUNY Empire State College has earned $120,000 in SUNY funds to support innovations by faculty and professional staff that have the potential to be replicated at college campuses elsewhere within the statewide university system.

SUNY Empire has received 23 awards since SUNY’s Innovative Instruction Technology Grants (IITG) program began in 2012. Projects receiving support this year include a global MOOC, workforce development in STEM and a catalog of competency-based educational resources for nontraditional students.

“Innovative teaching, learning and research by SUNY Empire faculty and professional staff have been hallmarks of the college since its founding in 1971,” said Mitchell S. Nesler, the college’s officer in charge. “This year’s IITG-funded initiatives reflect and meet the diverse needs of our adult, nontraditional students, the SUNY system, New York state and beyond. My congratulations to this year’s cohort of principal investigators.”

“It is inspiring to me, and our students, to see the innovations in instructional technology being made by our faculty and support staff throughout the system, and this year’s IITG awarded projects are examples of groundbreaking technologies resulting from this work,” said SUNY System Provost Tod Laursen. “Congratulations to all of the researchers, faculty, and campuses awarded grant money from this year’s IITG program.”

Awarded on a competitive basis, approved research projects must enhance, support and extend innovative and collaborative online teaching and learning environments, as well as have the strongest potential to be replicated across SUNY’s 64 campuses.

This year’s award-winning innovative initiatives are:

  • “Advancing Metaliteracy in a Post-Truth World through the Design of a Global MOOC,” Tier III award, $60,000, Professor of Arts and Media, Division of Arts and Humanities, Thomas P. Mackey and SUNY Distinguished Librarian Trudi Jacobson, head of the Information Literacy Department at the University at Albany, principal investigators.
  • “Academic Sharing Community: A SUNY Catalog of Educational Projects and Innovative Initiatives (ASC SUNY),” Tier III award $50,000, Nan Travers, director of the Center for Leadership in Credentialing Learning, principal investigator.
  • “STEM Job Skills Development in a Competency-Based Evaluation Model,” Tier I award, $10,000 Nathan Whitley-Grassi, assistant director of educational technologies, principal investigator.

The funding enables the college’s faculty, staff, and their SUNY and non-SUNY collaborators, to scale up the projects and, in doing so, provide new avenues for development and delivery of collaborative content, courses and programs throughout New York and around the globe.

About SUNY Empire’s 2018 IITG Projects

“Advancing Metaliteracy in a Post-Truth World through the Design of a Global MOOC”

This innovative project unites two SUNY campuses in the design of a new Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), “Empowering Yourself in a Post-Truth World,” using the Open EdX platform.

The MOOC, a free, open-resource, scalable across the entire SUNY system and open to lifelong learners globally, will empower learners to be successful participants in social media and online communities.

Learners will explore issues related to the post-truth era, such as false and misleading information, online hoaxes, confirmation bias, personal privacy, tribalism (when groups identify so closely that they fail to consider other perspectives), and online “trolling,” being deliberately inflammatory online.

“Metaliteracy,” a concept developed by Mackey and Jacobson, reinvents information literacy as a meta-literacy and empowers learners beyond the search and retrieval of static documents to the collaborative production and sharing of dynamic information online.

Metaliteracy provides an overarching and self-referential framework that integrates emerging technologies and unifies multiple literacy types. This redefinition of information literacy expands the scope of generally understood information competencies and places a particular emphasis on producing and sharing information in participatory digital environments.

This MOOC expands the current Metaliteracy digital badging system with new content and will feature the Metaliteracy learning goals and objectives to support reflective and critical thinking.

The team includes co-principal investigators Kelsey O’Brien, information literacy librarian at UAlbany, and Christine Paige, director of instructional design at SUNY Empire.

“Academic Sharing Community: A SUNY Catalog of Educational Projects and Innovative Initiatives (ASC SUNY)”

This innovative project will develop a SUNYwide, web-based interactive academic sharing community, with a catalog of educational projects and innovative initiatives.

The web-based portal will:

  • Promote a culture of strategic design of curriculum, assessment, academic and student support services, as well as applied learning through strategic prompts that help shape the design and implementation of initiatives.
  • Provide a repository of different teaching and learning initiatives, resources and tools.
  • Encourage peer-to-peer networking and partnerships across SUNY campuses.

In addition, the site will link to SUNY policies and procedures, internal and external grants, as well as other opportunities for program development and expansion.

The proposed academic sharing community also will support and demonstrate the reach of the SUNY Excels performance framework.

“STEM Job Skills Development in a Competency-based Evaluation Model”

This initiative will design a series of competency-based education resources, which will facilitate workforce development and learning for STEM students, with a particular focus on those students who have cognitive disabilities.

Generally, competency-based education, known as CBE, advances students as they demonstrate proficiency in a subject and, most often, is not tied to a traditional calendar-driven classroom model.

This initiative also will deliver a one-day symposium on CBE, open to all SUNY.

The symposium will allow a forum to discuss this and other SUNY CBE projects and provide opportunities for researchers and SUNY faculty to network and form supportive communities of practice.

Specific focuses or tracks at the symposium could include CBE in STEM, CBE for workforce development, CBE for students with disabilities and applications of CBE for adult and nontraditional students.

SUNY Empire faculty and staff experts will participate in developing the symposium curriculum.

This project makes use of the work performed in a previously funded IITG project, “Designing Competency-based PLA Pathways to Scale Up Completion and Learner Success.”

Allison Moreland, educational technologist and project coordinator, and Educational Technologist Shaun Hoppel are co-principal investigators on this initiative.

About IITG

IITG funds campus innovations and initiatives that have the potential to be replicated elsewhere within SUNY to benefit students and faculty across the state and worldwide and are awarded on a competitive basis.

Approved research projects must enhance, support and extend innovative and collaborative online teaching and learning environments and have the strongest potential to be replicated across SUNY’s 64 campuses.

IITG funds projects for one year at three tiers. “Tier III” awards up to $60,000, “Tier II” awards up to $20,000 and “Tier I” awards funding up to $10,000.

Of the 68 IITG proposals submitted by SUNY colleges and universities across the state, 30 were selected for funding, resulting in a 44 percent funding selection rate.

Each proposal received four independent peer reviews, coupled with a secondary review by the SUNY Innovation Instruction Research Council and a final review by members of the SUNY Office of the Provost.

IITG funds encourage individuals and teams to extend beyond departmental and campus boundaries to pilot, share and scale up innovations that have potential to transform and impact teaching and learning practices.

About SUNY Empire State College

SUNY Empire State College educates more than 17,000 students in person, online and through a blend of both, at more than 30 locations in New York and at eight international sites worldwide. Together with one of SUNY Empire’s more than 1,300 faculty mentors, each student designs his or her own individualized pathway to a college degree that accommodates his or her schedule and awards credit for prior college-level learning. SUNY Empire awards more than 3,000 degrees annually and 94 percent of graduates stay in New York state. Today, more than 84,000 SUNY Empire alumni are entrepreneurs, veterans and active members of the military, professional athletes, teachers, medical professionals and leaders in their field, as well as in their communities. To learn more, visit www.esc.edu and follow the college on social media @SUNYEmpire.

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