01 Dec, 2021, 10:00 ET
AUSTIN, Texas, Dec. 1, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- The Digital Higher Education Consortium of Texas (DigiTex), a coalition of community colleges in Texas, today announced it has been awarded a $645,405 grant from the Greater Texas Foundation for its flagship project, Harnessing Course Sharing to Support Texas Pathways at Scale. This funding will expand a collaboration between Texas community colleges and Acadeum, the creator of an online course-sharing platform used by nearly 400 colleges and universities, to increase access to STEM and shorter-term courses and in turn improve persistence and on-time completion through guided pathways.
"Too often, the limited nature of course offerings at rural and remote community colleges can create unintended barriers for learners as they navigate pathways to meaningful credentials while balancing their lives," said Judith Sebesta, executive director of DigiTex. "This grant extends the work already underway to help Texas community colleges more strategically work together to share solutions and ideas that allow us to better meet our challenges head on. By sharing courses with each other, we can ensure that every learner in our state has access to in-demand courses no matter where they live."
The new project will address two primary goals, first to increase the number of STEM and in-demand shorter-term courses that are a part of the existing course sharing initiative. Second, the new funding will help partner colleges better implement course sharing strategies to ensure learners can access and complete these in-demand pathways.
On-time credential completion rates continue to be a significant problem for community colleges. Data from the National Center for Education Statistics in 2020 show that only 13% of community college students graduate in two years. In Texas, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board reported in 2020 the average time to complete an associate degree was 3.9 years; meanwhile three-year graduation rates for full-time students were 24.9%, and for part time, 13.1%. Guided pathways have proven to be one effective solution to this problem and research shows that the practices used in guided pathways programs can lead to better outcomes for students. However, many colleges lack access to courses needed to create and consistently fulfill in-demand pathways and support on-time completion.
"Community colleges hold an enormous amount of potential to be economic growth engines within their communities" said Austin Community College's District Chancellor, Dr. Richard Rhodes. "We are proud to deploy course sharing to ensure that in-demand certificate and degree completion pathways can reach students in every geographic region to deliver on that growth opportunity promise."
The new project builds off of the recent success of online course sharing within community college networks, including the League for Innovation Online Course Sharing Consortium. More than two dozen community colleges across the country are supported by Acadeum's course-sharing platform. Course sharing helps learners access courses they could otherwise not take, keeping them on-track for timely completion. Courses offered through course sharing consortiums, such as DigiTex, count fully toward GPA, financial aid, and graduation requirements at students' home institutions, ensuring that learners don't waste credits or time on their path to an in-demand credential. Acadeum's network of consortia now includes over 400 institutions of higher education and a global catalog of more than 40,000 online courses.
The new award will contribute to Greater Texas Foundation's goal of transfer, transition, and advising as well as the goals of the state's higher education plan, 60x30TX, by increasing access to affordable, in-demand, just-in-time courses to fulfill guided pathways no matter where a student resides in the state. To learn more about DigiTex's course sharing work, visit https://digitex.org/course-sharing-2/.
Since its founding as the Virtual College of Texas in 1998, DigiTex has facilitated inter-institutional course sharing across the state, with more than 50,000 students accessing courses needed for completion of credentials. DigiTex also supports the adaptation, development, and implementation of Open Educational Resources (OER); leads the Texas Quality Matters Consortium; and conducts research on digital education, among other activities. DigiTex is based at the Austin Community College District.
About Greater Texas Foundation
Greater Texas Foundation supports initiatives that increase rates of postsecondary enrollment and completion for all Texas students, with a particular focus on students who may encounter barriers to postsecondary success. Greater Texas Foundation is a private foundation headquartered in Bryan, Texas. Since inception, Greater Texas Foundation has approved more than $104 million in grants to support Texas students. For more information, visit www.greatertexasfoundation.org.
Acadeum helps colleges and universities create academic partnerships with like-minded institutions to support student progress and equitable access. Today, more than 380 higher-ed institutions use Acadeum's course-sharing network to place students in online courses they need to stay on track for timely graduation. Institutions gain new revenue from courses they offer through the network, by sharing tuition dollars from courses taken by their students, and by keeping at-risk students enrolled. To learn more about Acadeum, please visit www.acadeum.com.
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