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April 11, 2011


The University of Maine at Fort Kent will participate as part of a $250,000 grant from the Next Generation Learning Challenges. The grant was received by the American Association and State Colleges as part of its Red Balloon Project, which is an effort to re-imagine undergraduate education nationwide. 

UMFK is among 20 participating AASCU member institutions nationwide with the University of Central Florida (UCF) as the lead university. UMFK will benefit from support of the AASCU/UCF proposal, Expanding Blended Learning Through Tools and Campus Programs, an initiative designed to expand adoption of blended learning to the participating institutions, through the development of a “Blended Learning Toolkit.” 

UMFK President, Wilson G. Hess, said, “Selection as a member of the Next Generation Learning Challenges  grant is an important next step in achieving UMFK’s vision to be a statewide leader in student success.” 

Based on proven best practices that have been successfully implemented by the University of Central Florida, the toolkit will include strategies for blended course design and delivery; open educational resource blended course models in composition and algebra; assessment and data collection protocols; and “train the trainer” materials and workshops. 

“UMFK is pleased to be engaged as a partner with AASCU institutions to implement the University of Central Florida’s national model for blended learning,” said Dr. Rachel E. Albert, UMFK’s vice president for academic affairs. “Blended learning provides pedagogic advantage and is becoming recognized as the gold standard, because it enhances the traditional classroom experience by combining it with self-paced online learning,” she added.

In addition to distributing the toolkit and course materials to its members, AASCU will use its networks and conferences to work with the 20 collaborating institutions on blended learning implementation.

“We are particularly excited about the participation of 20 AASCU campuses in this initiative.  Ten of the campuses will be individual participants, while an additional 10 have created multi-institutional partnerships in three states,” said George Mehaffy, AASCU’s vice president for academic leadership and change.  

“At a time of enormous challenge in higher education, this project is one more way that AASCU institutions are working to ensure that more Americans have both access and success in higher education,” said Mehaffy.

Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the NGLC seeks to improve college completion by supporting the sustainable adoption-at-scale of successful technology-enabled products, projects or service-based solutions in various challenge areas related to improving student learning, engagement and success.

Of the 600 proposals submitted during the initial call, 50 were invited to submit full proposals and 29 were selected for funding. The project officially launched on Friday, April 8, 2011, and will be completed in one year. 

All NGLC grants are managed by EDUCAUSE, a nonprofit association dedicated to advancing higher education through the promotion of the intelligent use of information technology. For more information about the Next Generation Learning partnership, visit