Title V InFocus Grant

The Title V Distance Education InFocus: Improving Course Design and Strengthening Student Support (InFocus) grant celebrates its first anniversary this month, October 2021. The grant provides $2.68 million over five years to support Latinx students and other underserved communities through collaboration with three full-time embedded tutors, two distance education advisors, and two instructional designers for online course redesign.

“This is an opportunity for the ACC community not only to expand the infrastructure to support our Latinx students but to continue to attract funding that will allow us to be more aggressive in our approach to being an institution known for equity and inclusion,” said Dr. Denise Robledo, Project Activities Director for the InFocus grant.

ACC has been a Hispanic-serving institution (HSI) for 10 years. The InFocus grant demonstrates ACC’s commitment to recruiting Latinx students to ACC as well as their success while here, said Robledo.

In its second year, the grant’s primary goal is for ACC faculty to feel empowered to take ownership of the Quality Matters (QM) certification process, said Robledo. The Quality Matters (QM) certification is based on nationally recognized best practices and built on the expertise of instructional designers and experienced online teachers.

“This certification highlights the important work our ACC faculty are doing,” said Robledo.

Faculty who have already taken the online course redesign academy (OCRA) are encouraged to work with the grant’s instructional designers to pursue the QM certification.

An update to share since the grant’s implementation is the launch of online tutoring platform Upswing on September 6, 2021.

The College reviewed bids for several platforms. With Upswing, students review tutors’ availability and schedule their own appointments, giving students ownership of their schedules and allowing tutors to concentrate on helping students.

As of September 2021, Upswing has recorded:

    • 2,000 logins, of which 52.4% resulted in students scheduling tutoring sessions, and
    • 2,651 hours of tutoring, of which 73% were conducted online, indicating that the tutoring platform is “meeting a need,” said Robledo.

For Spring 2021, 76% of students in courses with embedded tutoring successfully completed the course, compared to 56% for students in courses that did not have embedded tutoring.

The data demonstrate what many educators already know, that tutoring helps students succeed at higher rates. To that effect, “ACC Faculty should know that tutoring is available to students 24/7,” said Robledo.

In the following weeks, TLED is excited to cover this grant’s progress by sharing the experiences of faculty members who have completed the InFocus QM certification for their courses or are currently in the process.