The Long and Winding Road to Success with Personalized Courseware

Concurrent Session 3

Brief Abstract

When launching a digital courseware pilot, the path to success can be different for every faculty member. Sharing perspectives from multiple institutions, courses and disciplines, this session profiles different, common faculty approaches. It highlights the unique challenges they encounter along the way and explores solutions that help them achieve success.


Kelly Gillerlain, PhD., MBA, is the Interim Dean of Business, Information Technology & Public Services and a program head for business, marketing, finance and real estate on the Chesapeake, VA campus of Tidewater Community College (TCC) with a student population of over 40,000 students. As the faculty lead on the Gates Foundation "Next Generation Courseware Challenge", she is responsible for ensuring compliance and faculty support in the roll out of four courses using Open Educational Resources (OER). Gillerlain is also a subject matter adviser for the Principles of Marketing course being developed for a spring 2016 pilot. With a PhD in Organizational Leadership with a concentration in Human Resource Development, her research includes the study of leader self-development, competency-based learning, and the effect OER has on student success.
Nicola Wayer is an experienced educator with extensive teaching and instructional design experience in both K-12 and higher education settings. She is currently the Director of Instructional Design and Training for the Tennessee Board of Regents and is also on the faculty of the Johns Hopkins University School of Education. Previously, she has served as a teacher and curriculum specialist at the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind, an instructor, instructional designer, and faculty developer at University of Florida, and helped to found the Center for eLearning at Florida State College at Jacksonville, and was Director of Instructional Design at Champlain College in Vermont. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Florida in curriculum and instruction with a concentration in educational technology; an M.Ed. from the University of North Florida in secondary education; and a B.A. from Flagler College in deaf education and elementary education. Dr. Wayer’s research interests include serving students with disabilities in blended and online courses and teacher professional development for blended and online learning.
Kim Thanos is the CEO of Lumen Learning. Lumen provides well-designed, low-cost digital course materials that help colleges and universities offer the best education to all students, regardless of socioeconomic status. Core to its approach, Lumen guides institutions to use open educational resources (OER) to their full benefit. Kim has spent the past ten years focused on the challenge of how to move OER from a concept that is philosophically interesting, to a practical tool that is changing success rates for at-risk students. Through that journey she has worked with hundreds of institutions to explore content creation and adaptation models, student and faculty engagement approaches, economic impacts, institutional strategy and policy, faculty collaboration, and the possibilities that open education provides to create to a more personalized learning experience.

Extended Abstract

Tidewater Community College (TCC) and TN eCampus each launched personalized learning pilots with open educational resources (OER) to allow faculty members to explore new models for engaging and connecting with students. These projects sought to bring together the benefits achieved through the access and affordability of OER, as well as testing models to improve metacognition and the faculty-student connection.


In the case of TCC, the pilot project involved aggressive timelines for introducing Lumen Learning’s Waymaker courseware starting in fall 2015 as an early adopter and collaborator on course design and development. Over time, TCC has worked to organically expand adoption of two courses in the business department, particularly among part-time and adjunct faculty. Using this approach, the college aims to address issues of affordability, access, and the ability to deliver a consistent quality of higher-touch learning experience throughout the department.


In the case of TN eCampus, initial plans proposed that three courses would go live in the summer 2017 using Lumen Learning’s Waymaker personalized courseware. Only one of the three courses met the timeline, with the other two courses delaying pilot until fall 2017. Still, all courses are on track for successful implementation and showing promise to achieve the initial goals of the project.


In a review of the challenges and successes for each implementation, program leads have identified differences in the faculty members’ approach to evaluating personalized courseware, and some tension between an emphasis on the content versus the pedagogy delivered through a personalized system. Both projects were also impacted by missteps in aligning calendars and roadmaps across the educational institution and the courseware provider.


This session will explore the different faculty personae and suggest approaches to engage and support faculty members with diverse approaches. Faculty personae include the subject matter expert, the innovative teacher, and the frustrated trailblazer. Participants will have an opportunity to identify faculty personae and approaches that they have encountered in similar initiatives to augment the discussion.


The session will summarize initial research and impact studies from personalized learning implementations around the country, and highlight where these experiences map to broader trends. It concludes by suggesting approaches to reduce risk in personalized learning implementations.