By: 
Thomas W. Durso
Honoree: 
Bossier Parish Community College

“Global reach” is not typically a phrase associated with two-year schools, but with YouTube viewership in 182 countries, Bossier Parish Community College in Louisiana is enjoying the kind of exposure campus officials at many institutions can only dream of.

More importantly, the college’s Open Campus—composed of free, open-source developmental courses for students readying for placement testing and those enrolled in credit-bearing coursework—has considerably improved placement and pass rates in all entry-level math classes.

“This program began as a supplemental instruction program for our students,” says Chancellor Rick Bateman Jr. “It quickly went beyond the borders of our campus.”

Like community colleges across the country, Bossier Parish was plagued by high dropout rates among students placed into developmental courses. Open Campus offers access to engaging content at any hour of the day, via brief lectures recorded and uploaded to YouTube. The initial videos were approximately 15 minutes but newer videos are much shorter to accommodate smartphone users. Multiple-choice quizzes allow students to assess their progress.

Around 35,000 users have taken Open Campus courses, and only about half are from Bossier Parish. The online videos feature what the college calls its “most sought-after developmental instructors.”

Allison Martin, director of institutional effectiveness initiatives, says approaching the most enthusiastic student-centered instuctors about recording their lectures to help as many students as possible was an easy sell. “They jumped on board immediately.”

Open Campus has attracted the attention of the U.S. Department of Education, which rewarded the college’s innovation with a $1.8 million First in the World Grant for innovation in helping at-risk college students.

The school is using the grant to make courses fully mobile-compatible, provide some gaming elements, and enhance data collection and assessment to “put a quantifiable figure on our effectiveness,” says Martin.

National Trends Link

  • More than two-thirds of all community college students place into at least one developmental education course in their first year
  • 30% of students placed into developmental courses never show up for the first course or subsequent remedial courses

Source: Complete College America