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How ACM Collaboration Built ICF Online

Published: April 11, 2017

How ACM Collaboration Built ICF Online

Beloit College President Scott Bierman speaking at the 2016 Institute on College Futures.

ACM’s ICF Online mini-course gives faculty and staff at colleges and universities across the country access to a set of powerful resources for understanding college finances and higher education economics.

With the course sparking interest on campuses beyond the 14 ACM member colleges, several people involved in creating the course will showcase ICF Online in a presentation at the Bryn Mawr Blended Learning in the Liberal Arts Conference on May 17-18.

ICF Online was built through collaboration among faculty and staff at four ACM colleges, ACM consortial office staff, and learning engineers at Acrobatiq, the educational software company that hosts the course. In an online environment, the course presents the central learning experience of ACM’s in-person Institute on College Futures (ICF) seminars for faculty.

The annual Bryn Mawr Conference focuses on how technology can be used to strengthen liberal arts education and draws faculty and administrators from liberal arts colleges nationwide to share pedagogies, techniques, findings, and other resources, according to Ed Finn, ACM Liaison for Innovation and Collaboration in Teaching and Learning.

Finn coordinated the ICF Online project and will be joined on the panel by Professor of Economics Bob Elder and Manager of Instructional Technology Jedidiah Rex, both from Beloit College, and Rachel Van Campenhout from Acrobatiq. The session is titled “Institute on College Futures Online: Teaching the Economics of Higher Education through Adaptive Learning.”

The course was built in Acrobatiq’s Smart Author adaptive learning platform, which is grounded in research conducted at Carnegie Mellon University in cognitive science, human-computer interaction, and software engineering.

“In adaptive learning, the first question to answer is ‘What do we want people to take away from this lesson or this course?’” said Finn. “So we started by defining the competencies, the learning goals or objectives, and the skills that we wanted the people taking the course to end up with. Then we built the course to take them there.”

Adapting the content presented at the in-person ICF seminars to the online environment required rewriting and creation of additional content by Elder and three other content specialists. They worked closely with instructional technologists, including Rex, and Acrobatiq to use the software to accomplish the course’s pedagogical goals.

“The panelists will talk briefly about their roles in the project and show examples of what people taking ICF Online see as they take the course,” said Finn. “We’ll also give an overview of the process we used in creating the course and then open it up for questions from the audience.”

Finn said he hopes the presentation will inspire faculty to experiment with adding some online elements to their classroom teaching.

“If someone goes back to their campus and works with their instructional technologist to create something that is personalized to their teaching style, that will make this presentation a success for me,” he said.

 

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The Institute on College Futures is supported by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Support for creating ICF Online was provided by The Teagle Foundation.

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