North Shore Community College (NSCC) has been awarded $100,000 to help make college more affordable and accessible through enhanced digital learning opportunities.
NSCC will use the funds to develop a new Flexible Learning Model with hybrid learning classes (in-person and online) and “fast track” seven-week, back-to-back courses to allow Liberal Arts Transfer students to accelerate completion of their associate degrees.
“Through this funding, 20 general education courses will be created in 7-week hybrid blocks. Each course will be offered with low-cost textbooks or open education resources,” said NSCC Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Karen Hynick. “The advantage of this concept is it allows students an affordable option concentrating on 2- 3 courses at a time, allowing for deeper exploration in the content course, and promotes balance with their life/work responsibilities.”
The grant, part of $1.2 million in state grants given to 16 Massachusetts public colleges and universities, was awarded through the state’s Performance Incentive Fund (PIF), which the Department of Higher Education gives to encourage state higher education institutions to produce cost savings for students through cross campus collaboration. Since 2012, the fund has awarded more than $25 million in grants.
“Performance Incentive grants allow our state colleges and universities to explore new digital innovations in teaching and learning to make higher education more affordable and accessible for students across the Commonwealth,” Governor Charlie Baker noted in announcing the grants. “Massachusetts is poised to be a leader in online learning, and we are pleased these grants will help our public higher education institutions achieve that goal.”
Last month, Governor Baker announced he will establish a new Commission on Digital Innovation and Lifelong Learning to develop recommendations that will lead to more online learning opportunities for Massachusetts residents to obtain education and skills for in-demand fields.
“New approaches are needed to expand higher education opportunities for all Massachusetts residents, particularly for those who need flexibility and are not able to take traditional classes on a college campus,” Lt. Governor Karyn Polito said. “Incentivizing grants like these will help ensure the Commonwealth’s higher education institutions can provide services that meet the demands of today’s students.”
“From the start, the Performance Incentive Fund has encouraged campus leaders to think in new ways about some of the most intractable problems we face in higher education,” said Carlos E. Santiago, Massachusetts Commissioner of Higher Education. “We’re now beginning to see the fruits of that effort, as we award grants to campuses that want to build on the gains and successes of prior years’ funding.”