Campus & Community

PBSC awarded grant to create affordable, online homework

From left: Associate professor Anurag Katyal, associate professor Carrie McDonald and professor Dr. Ozlem Ugurlu

Palm Beach State College has been awarded a $10,000 Edfinity Affordable Learning Grant supported by the National Science Foundation to create more affordable, textbook-neutral and personalized online homework collections for Intermediate Algebra, College Algebra, Trigonometry and Precalculus.

These exemplar course collections will then be made available to all other Florida institutions through an open Edfinity catalog.

After applying, the College was the first institution awarded the newly created grant which was designed to be offered only to carefully reviewed institutions.

According to Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Edfinity.com Shivram Venkatasubramaniam, the company was drawn to PBSC based on its interactions with Associate Professor Anurag Katyal and Dean of Academic Affairs Dr. Roy Vargas and Vice President of Academic Innovation and Strategy Dr. Roger Yohe.

“We detected a unique combination of erudition, deep commitment to affordability, collaborative instincts, intellectual leadership, and more importantly clear demonstration of intent,” Venkatasubramaniam said. “We felt PBSC was uniquely qualified to create a broader impact with this grant.”

With the funds, the College will start creating the Intermediate Algebra course from the ground up with over 400 videos and questions contextualized to students.

The novel approach allows the content to be mapped to Open Educational Resources or publisher texts, thereby breaking expensive publisher bundles and reducing the cost of high-quality online homework to an affordable $25 fee/student. The creation of homework that can be easily paired with any textbook eliminates dependence on overpriced commercial textbooks.

The course collections will be completed at the end of this semester. PBSC will run pilots in six sections in the summer and six sections in the fall. Edfinity is offering additional #Changemaker Faculty Grants to anyone who wishes to pilot additional course collections on the Edfinity platform.

“Expensive textbooks and publisher bundles put a huge financial strain on our students and math textbooks and access codes frequently make the top 25 Most Expensive Books list every year,” said Katyal, the principal investigator for the grant. “Without the immediate backing of our wonderful administration and the grant supporting our efforts, a project of this magnitude would have taken multiple years to complete. As a result of our work, students will have access to homework problems on an innovative platform that provides a true individualized adaptive learning experience at an extremely affordable cost of $25.”

The project team, which includes professors Carrie McDonald and Dr. Ozlem Ugurlu, will not only share the collections with other institutions but hopes that by removing this financial barrier, PBSC students and others will be able to successfully complete these gateway math courses and make a tangible difference to retention and completion efforts.

Edfinity is a fully adaptive, textbook-neutral, homework system in use at more than 300 institutions for the entire math curriculum from developmental math to multivariable calculus and beyond. Edfinity supports personalized adaptive learning for all courses, corequisite course structures, and can be paired with any commercial or OER textbook. For more information, visit www.edfinity.com.

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2 comments on “PBSC awarded grant to create affordable, online homework”

  1. Congratulations to Professor Katyal, Professor McDonald, and Dr. Ugurlu. Many students will ultimately benefit from this collaboration.

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