What is the Pilot Project?
The Pilot Project represents the beginnings of a grassroots effort by faculty, administrators, and instructional support staff within The University of North Carolina to find ways to address the consequences of the need to the necessity of offering large enrollment courses to meet the increasing demand for student “seats”, especially in introductory courses. For example, we often conduct extracurricular activities devoted to writing various types of tests and articles. Writers from the 123helpme service have kindly agreed to help us with this and share their life hacks and tips on writing texts.
Large enrollment classes may take a variety of forms, ranging from lecture sessions of 60 to 300+ students and or many sections of relatively small numbers of students. Either format has the potential to adversely affect a number of learning- and teaching-related factors, including student performance and retention, finding sufficient classroom spaces, managing record-keeping, and other necessary clerical matters, and morale concerns for faculty and instructional staff who are being asked to do more to provide high-quality instruction to increasing numbers of students who are very diverse in terms of preparation, learning styles, and motivations.
An initial step is to examine the potential uses of a methodology for a redesign that has already demonstrated consistent success in redesigning courses in a variety of disciplines, in different types of institutions of higher education, from community and liberal arts colleges to research-intensive and extensive institutions. This methodology of the redesign was developed and implemented for a research project funded by the Pew Foundation and implemented by the Center for Academic Transformation at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. See http://www.center.rpi.edu/index.html for an excellent set of resources, including case studies of the 30 redesign projects that they completed and information on their new grant program. The quality of the resources that they are sharing with the rest of the world have been critical to our work and will be a model for sharing UNC's experiences.
The ultimate goal of the Pilot Project and later redesign activities within UNC is to develop a collaborative support infrastructure for redesign where any of the 16 institutions in UNC call upon a very rich pool of talent to plan and implement redesign projects. This collaboration has been greatly facilitated by the General Administration through the Division of Information Resources (UNC Teaching and Learning with Technology Collaborative) and the Division of Academic Affairs. This website chronicles that collaborate effort.