Colleges & Campus News

UCF Now Manages Course Redesign Resources from Online Learning Pioneer NCAT

The nonprofit organization has provided hundreds of digital course redesigns and resources over the past 19 years.

By Nicole Dudenhoefer '17 |
February 13, 2019

This year, U.S. News & World Report ranked UCF among the top 15 best undergraduate online programs.

UCF has recently taken over the management of the entire set of curated resources from the National Center for Academic Transformation (NCAT)— a leader in course redesign and online learning for nearly 20 years. The nonprofit organization closed at the end of last year and selected UCF to maintain its collection because of the university’s strong online learning program and commitment to affordable education.

The higher education center was founded in 1999 by Carol A. Twigg with the goal of using technology-based, learner-centered principles to improve student-learning outcomes while reducing instructional costs. NCAT’s website will now be managed by UCF’s Center for Distributed Learning and additional resources will be housed in the university’s Libraries Special Collections and University Archives. These items will be uploaded through the end of 2019 and anyone looking to access them may do so through the online STARS portal.

“I’ve admired all the work UCF has done in online learning and the steps it has taken to advance their programs.” – Carol Twigg, NCAT founder

“I am extremely pleased to partner with the University of Central Florida to ensure that NCAT’s resources will continue to be available to the higher education community,” says Twigg. “I’ve admired all the work UCF has done in online learning and the steps it has taken to advance their programs. It was a combination of feeling like UCF was a right fit with NCAT’s mission, our long-term relationship and the university’s stability in leadership that led this decision.”

From its founding to 2018, NCAT provided consultations and resources, such as case studies and how-to guides, to universities and colleges that sought to provide more effective learning at lower cost. In 1996, UCF offered its first online classes and began working with NCAT shortly after that – making the partnership one of the longest the organization has had.

NCAT worked with UCF to redesign its American National Government course to replace two-thirds of lecture time with web-based, modular learning. In the 2000s, the organization helped UCF redesign its College Algebra course to introduce the MyMathLab software and a requirement for students to complete three hours in the on-campus lab each week. These courses still utilize these methods to this day.

“UCF is a pioneer in pursuing these models of adaptive and active learning,” says Joel Hartman, vice president for Information Technologies and Resources, and chief information officer for UCF.

“It has become our honor and responsibility to continue to host the materials as an archival tribute to the work that Carol, her colleagues and NCAT created — and also, honoring our long-standing relationship between UCF and NCAT, as an educational leader,” says Joel Hartman, vice president for Information Technologies and Resources, and chief information officer for UCF.

With its partner colleges and universities, NCAT redesigned 253 courses across four national and six state/system-wide programs that enroll 250,000 students annually. Of the 156 completed projects by the organization, 72 percent improved student learning outcomes, with 153 projects reducing their costs by an average of 34 percent.

This year, U.S. News & World Report ranked UCF among the top 15 best undergraduate online programs. In the current academic year, UCF will deliver over 47 percent of all credit hours offered at the university through fully online and blended learning courses. By 2021, at least half of UCF’s credit hours are expected to be delivered online.

UCF is now moving toward incorporating more adaptive, or personalized, learning outside the classroom with in-class active learning methods to increase student learning outcomes and success.

“UCF is a pioneer in pursuing these models of adaptive and active learning,” Hartman says. “The goal in all [our learning methods] is to meet the individual needs of students, to promote high-quality teaching and improve student learning outcomes.”