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BPCC named one of top colleges in country for instructional innovation



Bossier Parish Community College has been named a Bellwether Award finalist for the second consecutive year for its Open Campus™ initiative, Starting Below Ground: Channeling Paths to Completion in Developmental Education.

BPCC is one of only 10 colleges recognized for instructional innovation by the Community College Futures Assembly, which sponsors the Bellwether Awards.

Pioneering projects are selected from three categories: instructional programs, planning & governance, and workforce development. Three thousand (3000) colleges were nominated and the top ten in each category were chosen to present at the Futures Assembly.

The Bellwether Award has been compared to football’s Heisman Award because it is competitively judged and is an award given by peers in community colleges, with no cash award.  It has also been called “the award of awards” because many institutions with programs that have won other awards apply for the Bellwether Award.  Previous recipients of the Bellwether Award have said that it has been a springboard for other types of recognition and/or funding.

BPCC’s Allison Martin, who spearheads the Open Campus™ initiative, spoke for her team: “It’s such an honor for Open Campus™ faculty and staff to be recognized among the ten finalists, and we’re thrilled to represent BPCC and the LCTCS system. But the greatest reward happens practically every week when students tell us their stories of success. Knowing we’re making a difference is the best kind of win.” Martin notes that significant numbers of entering students have now tested up or out of developmental-level courses, effectively reducing their time to degree completion.

BPCC’s Open Campus™ introduced five math, English and reading courses in April of 2013, and the free online sites quickly caught on both at BPCC and across the state of LA. Martin says the team’s goal at the start of the project was to provide quality, accessible study materials for BPCC’s students and potential students prepping for placement testing. It has since grown into providing access to students from all 50 states and on 6 continents. For more than two years now, students have been accessing Open Campus™ lecture videos at a rate above 60 minutes per hour; as a result, statistically, every minute of every hour of every day, someone, somewhere around the world is watching a BPCC-branded Open Campus lecture.

“Students and staff have taken BPCC’s Open Campus™ learning materials and truly made them their own, as they continue to adopt and adapt content to meet their specific needs,” says Martin.  “What we envisioned for our students has taken on universal applications. From middle school to grad school to workforce and continuing ed, we’re seeing channels open beyond the community as statewide, national and international use continues to increase.”

Martin will represent the Open Campus™ team members and share the concept at the Assembly on January 30, in Orlando, FL. The winner will be announced the following day at the annual meeting.

The Community College Futures Assembly meets annually as a think-tank to identify critical issues colleges are facing and to recognize trend-setting innovations.

For the complete list of winners, visit  https://education.ufl.edu/futures/2016/12/11/2017-winners/.

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Sean Green is managing editor of the Bossier Press-Tribune.


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