"Mind the Gap: Connecting K–12 and Higher

[The Technologies Ahead]
Mind the Gap: Connecting K–12
and Higher Education Educators
to Improve the Student Experience
increasing popularity of MOOCs, open-education resources
ach fall, over 7,000 recent high school graduates
such as OpenStax College, and freely available course content
enroll in courses at The Ohio State University. With
on platforms such as iTunes U brings an incredible opportueach incoming class comes a group of students with
nity for high school teachers and college instructors to collaboincreasingly higher composite ACT/SAT scores
rate and enhance each other’s instruction.
and, unsurprisingly, increasingly higher expecOhio State is leading one such project. College Ready Ohio
tations for an engaging, world-class education. As students
seeks to provide K–12 teachers with college-level content and
transition from a high school to a college/university setting,
professional development related to digital pedagogy, the
the role of the teacher in their educational experience changes
incorporation of mobile technology for teaching and learning,
as well. In some cases, particularly at Ohio State, students step
and digital content creation. Through a partnership between
into a classroom comprising more students than were in their
Ohio State, the Ohio STEM Learning Network, two regional
entire graduating high school class. Many students go from
Education Service Centers, and ten participating school dishigh school teacher to college professor with little preparation
tricts across the state, College Ready Ohio aims to expand stufor this shift.
dents’ access to—and increase the affordability of—higher eduWhen we compare high school teachers and college profescation for Ohio’s students. By piloting dual enrollment, known
sors, high school teachers typically have deep expertise in pedas College Credit Plus in Ohio, for students in
agogy, whereas college professors are more
the partner districts, College Ready Ohio will
focused in their subject area. A newly hired
We can all benefit
help ease the financial burden of higher educollege faculty member typically spends four
to five years in a graduate research group and
from learning from cation by providing students with an opportunity to earn college credits in high school,
then follows that up with a research-intensive
each other, and
while simultaneously preparing students for
post-doc or two. Through this experience,
ultimately, students
the rigor of college-level coursework.
each faculty member conducts countless
will benefit as
Within the scope of the grant delivery,
hours of research and receives mentoring
K–12 teachers from participating districts will
from not only an advisor but also collaborawe create a more
spend two years working with Ohio State factors in the specific field. Thus, most faculty
personalized and
ulty and staff to hone their skills in teaching
at research institutions have an impressive
seamless transition
in their specific content areas by incorporatbackground in research but are usually missfrom high school
ing open-education resources from Ohio
ing a solid teaching background. They have
State faculty and by learning how to create
little to no teaching experience before they
to college.
and curate high-quality digital content into
set foot in the classroom of their first teaching
their high school courses. At the beginning of the third year of
assignment. This deviates dramatically from the instruction
the project, this group of teachers will become catalysts within
that high school students receive from their certified and highly
their districts and will lead the training of their colleagues.
qualified teachers. Through their K–12 years, high school stuEmbedded within the professional development component
dents receive instruction from teachers who have studied and
of the grant is the opportunity for participating K–12 teachers
been trained in instructional practices, education philosophy
and Ohio State faculty to collaborate on teaching with mobile
and theory, and implementations of practical pedagogical strattechnology and digital content. Each student enrolled in a
egies, even though they may not have completed much more
course taught by a catalyst teacher will receive an iPad in a 1:1
than a few introductory-level college/university courses or a
setting. As the collaboration cross-pollinates and expands,
bachelor’s degree in the content area they are teaching.
Ohio’s students will be the ultimate beneficiaries, becoming
With such vastly different and equally important skill sets
more prepared for the rigor of college course material, developin the educational spectrum, it’s unfortunate that high school
ing digital literacy and collaboration skills, and gaining college
teachers and college professors do not collaborate more often.
credits at no cost to their families.
Strong collaborations would enhance instruction for both parMeanwhile, college faculty can share their insights with
ties, would increase the understanding of what types of teachhigh school teachers on developments and trends within their
ing and learning are happening in each setting, and would assist
respective fields and can drive applications for the threshold
students in their transition from high school to college. The
52 E d u c a u s E r e v i e w M A R C H / A P R I L 2 015
New Horizons Department Editor: Jonathan Blake Huer
B y M at t h e w W. S t o lt z f u s , B e n S c r a g g , a n d C o ry T r e ss l e r
EDUCAUSE is a nonprofit association whose mission is
to advance higher education through the use of information technology.
EDUCAUSE Board of Directors
Bruce Maas, Chair
CIO and Vice Provost for Information
University of Wisconsin–Madison
Susan Metros, Vice Chair
Associate Vice Provost, Associate CIO,
University of Southern California
Justin Sipher, Secretary
Vice President of Libraries and Information
St. Lawrence University
Bill Hogue, Treasurer
Vice President for Information Technology
and CIO
University of South Carolina
Kara Freeman
Vice President of Administration and Chief
Information Officer
American Council on Education
Joy Hatch
Steve McCracken © 2015
Vice President for Technology
Fort Hays State University
Marc Hoit
Vice Chancellor and CIO
North Carolina State University
Ron Kraemer of knowledge needed to perform well
in a college classroom. At the same time,
K–12 educators can share their insights
with faculty on instructional design,
teaching methods, the current landscape of learning in Ohio high schools,
and the best way to develop meaningful
assessment focused on evidence of student learning.
Students today have a seamless, integrated experience with everything they
touch, from Amazon to iTunes. It will
take some time, but we can all benefit
from learning from each other, and
ultimately, students will benefit as we
create a more personalized and seamless
transition from high school to college—
a transition that also challenges each
student in the areas needed. Technology
not only allows this to happen but opens
up the classroom for instructors to make
w w w. e d u c a u s e . e d u / e r o
the best use of their face-to-face student
interactions that extend beyond traditional lectures. Through this unique
collaboration, faculty in both K–12 and
higher education institutions can continue to raise the student learning experience to new heights.
Matthew W. Stoltzfus ([email protected]) is
Senior Lecturer, Department of Chemistry and
Biochemistry, at The Ohio State University. Ben
Scragg ([email protected]) is Program Manager, College Ready Ohio, Office of Distance
Education and eLearning, at The Ohio State
University. Cory Tressler ([email protected]) is
Associate Director of Learning Programs, Office
of Distance Education and eLearning, at The
Ohio State University.
© 2015 Matthew W. Stoltzfus, Ben Scragg, and Cory
Tressler. The text of this article is licensed under the
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0
International License (http://creativecommons.org/
Vice President for Information Technology and
Chief Information and Digital Officer
University of Notre Dame
Laura Patterson
Associate Vice President for Information
Technology and CIO
University of Michigan–Ann Arbor
Kay Rhodes
Associate Vice Chancellor and CIO
Texas Tech University System
Tracy Schroeder
Vice President of Information Services and
Boston University
John (Jack) Suess Vice President of Information Technology and
Chief Information Officer
University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Ex Officio Member
Diana G. Oblinger
President and CEO
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