Reclaim Open Learning

better online learning for higher ed

College Unbound

September 20, 2013 by Claudia Caro Sullivan

Adam Bush, Director of Curriculum, College Unbound; National Advisory Board Member and Director of Publicly Active Graduate Education, Imagining America
Dennis Littky, College Unbound & Big Picture Learning

College Unbound was founded in 2009 as a college degree program housed at Roger Williams University to create a more just higher education delivery system that honors and furthers learning, community voice, and collective action in and through credit bearing instruction, support, and assessment.

Students do not work on course requirements nor are they bound to a semester schedule—student work is actionable and project based; connected to personal, vocational, and community need. While begun for traditional aged students, full time working adults as well as organizational partners soon began seeking out CU as degree model that would allow them to keep full time employment while also being a fulltime student all the while helping workspaces and community organizations build capacity.

This fall, we are inaugurating a new pilot partnership with Charter Oak State College as we begin to conceptualize what an online CU curricular program should look like. While utilizing Blackboard for work submission at our university partner, we base our instruction through as a Learning Management System to house student project development. Students manage and design their courses and invite those affected by to their work to be involved in a shared and iterative assessment practice.

In doing so, we try to think of open resources as both online and on-ground—where CU helps students learn to value the networks of which they are already a part and seeing community members and partners in the workforce as faculty built through reciprocal learning relationships.

As we begin to think about growth (we have graduated 38 students so far out of the 89,000 adults in RI who have not completed a degree program), we are at the early stages of figuring how to navigate the relationship between an online university structure, a student driven LMS, and an on-ground, collaborative instructional method.

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