University of Phoenix Reinvents Education with Experiential Learning

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1 At a Glance COMPANY Axia College of University of Phoenix COUNTRY OR REGION International INDUSTRY Higher Education Axia College Profile University of Phoenix Reinvents Education with Experiential Learning Axia College and Toolwire Launch Innovative IT Degrees University of Phoenix revolutionized traditional education with the launch of its Online Campus in Five years later, Toolwire revolutionized online learning with the invention of live, remote laboratories. Today both companies are working together to launch innovative, new Information Technology degrees at Axia College of University of Phoenix. This is their story. Since its inception, University of Phoenix has been dedicated to meeting the educational needs of a diverse population of students through a network of both on ground and online classrooms. Flexibility in delivery (the university to offer accredited degree programs online) and flexibility in geography (a distributed network of metro campuses) are two of the foundations upon which the university is built. University of Phoenix has over 550,000 alumni in a variety of fields, including a significant number of Associates of Arts graduates. In 2006, University of Phoenix launched its first Toolwire-enabled Information Technology (IT) program at Axia College AAIT/Networking. Two years later, they expanded the AAIT program with four additional concentrations in Web Design, Programming, IT Support, and Database Development. This unprecedented expansion was driven by the success of the Networking program and made possible by the experiential learning foundation of Toolwire s student desktops, LiveLabs, and interactive Scenarios. Apollo Group, Inc. was founded in 1976 in response to a gradual shift in higher education demographics from youth to working learners. Today, Apollo Group, Inc., through its largest subsidiary University of Phoenix (including Axia College) has established itself as a leading provider of higher education programs for working learners. Business Challenge Axia College of University of Phoenix is an online school that offers an Associates of Arts degree in over twenty concentrations. Six of those concentrations are in the Information Technology (IT) field. When Axia College launched their four new IT concentrations in 2008, they looked for a partner who could provide 24x7 access to virtual lab environments, customized instructional material, centralized software libraries, and personal student storage. Solution Axia College chose to work with Toolwire, a world leader in Experiential Learning, to co-create online labs for their new AAIT concentrations. Working together, Axia College and Toolwire created a Personal Student Desktop for remote access to course software and student projects. In addition, Toolwire created live hands-on labs allowing students to access a variety of IT technologies specific to their concentration. Then, Toolwire brought these labs to life in virtual worlds filled with virtual avatars solving real-world problems. Benefits Since working with Toolwire, Axia College has experienced strong AAIT enrollment growth and improved course completion rates. Students enjoy an online Technology Apprenticeship and can gain over 100 hours of live, hands-on experience with their chosen technology while earning their degree. Students enjoy a higher level of curriculum engagement and greater kinesthetic cognitive encoding. (866)

2 We have had Toolwire s hands-on experiential labs integrated into our Networking program for several years. So when it came time to add five more Information Technology concentrations, it made perfect sense to build the degrees around Toolwire s live desktops, labs, and scenarios. This technology apprenticeship approach has been a big success for students and the College. Douglas Beckwith, PhD, JD Dean and Executive Director of Axia College of University of Phoenix Since its inception as an online lab provider for the University of California, Berkeley, Toolwire has had a strong commitment to student engagement and instructional design. Toolwire s mission is to sharply increase student satisfaction and skills retention by co-creating innovative learning programs brought to life with hands-on experiential learning in virtual job worlds. Together, Axia College and Toolwire are re-inventing online IT education. Translating Student Experience into Skills Retention I hear and I forget I see and I remember I DO and I understand! Confucius Experiential Learning is proving to be the fastest, most effective way to train students on rapidly changing Information Technology. Hands-on labs are ideal for learning practical skills where students need the freedom to experiment, test their current skills, and gain competencies far beyond theory. So, where do you get all of this great experiential learning content? The good news is it is all around us! Each student holds hundreds of experiences inside them that can be used to improve the performance of everyone in the class. Axia College and Toolwire co-created a collaborative, interactive student-to-student learning approach that taps into and leverages student experiences. This unique experiential learning approach provides students with a technology apprenticeship. From an instructional perspective, live practice closes the kinesthetic learning loop, thus enhancing cognitive encoding and improving skills retention. Axia College is using the power of experiential learning to provide the following benefits to their students: Students can graduate from the AAIT degree program with over 100+ hours of practical EXPERIENCE with live IT equipment in virtual data centers. This level of IT experience provides students with the equivalent of a 2-year on-the-job head start. Experiential Learning is the most effective method of learning IT skills. Toolwire products provide twice the industry average pass rate on IT certification exams (for Toolwire s certification oriented corporate clients). IT salaries are growing at a rate TWICE as fast as inflation. Market salaries for IT graduates range from $58,000 to $102,000 per year (these figures represent industry trends and are not specific to University of Phoenix students).

3 Immersive Environments Axia College is also using the power of Immersive Environments to provide dayin-the-life experiences that combine the instructional power of Toolwire LiveLabs with the engaging authenticity of virtual worlds filled with virtual avatars. These virtual worlds convey to students that the skills they are learning have real world implications and real world applications. Within immersive environments, students get to live the life of an IT professional, healthcare technician or business consultant. Working Together for Proven Results The partnership between Axia College of University of Phoenix and Toolwire extends well beyond the classroom. Toolwire has proven itself to be more than just a technology partner, but a business partner that understands the challenges Axia College faces in acquiring and retaining top students. Working together Axia College and Toolwire Instructional Design staff co-created a series of six IT concentrations to appeal to a wide variety of interests for those focused on Information Technology. The combination of these six focused concentrations, built on the foundation of hands-on, remote experiential learning labs, has helped to bolster the Axia student experience and has lead to improved course completion and increased enrollments. Course Completion: Since launching the new Toolwire-enabled AAIT concentrations in 2008, course completion has risen 22%. Student Engagement: There seems to be a strong correlation between using the Toolwire labs and completing the AAIT courses 79% of the AAIT students who complete the Toolwire-enabled courses spend more than 90 minutes in the labs. Immersive Environments include performance-based assessments to track student progress. Some assessments require students to enter a live data center, while others involve consultant reports or Return on Investment calculations. These experiential learning scenarios go a long way toward helping students attain a higher level of skills retention by making the learning experience as real as possible. Co-Creation + Development Collaboration = Engaging, Practical Courseware Our collaborative efforts with Toolwire have resulted in significant enhancements to the University s AAIT program. As a result of these efforts, our students have access to high-quality, jointly-designed tools that provide realistic lab environments and experiences closely linked to course objectives. David Bickford Vice President of Apollo Instructional Design & Development Beyond the classroom, Toolwire has positioned itself as a true partner, seeking to learn Axia College s business model and aid in their success. Through co-created internal training, Axia College enrollment counselors have been given the skills to better guide potential students to the best concentration for their interest and skill profile. The result is satisfied students and significant enrollment growth. Increased Lead Conversion: Since partnering with Toolwire in 2006, the Axia AAIT enrollment conversion rate is up 176% overall and the Networking conversion rate is up 259%. AAIT program demand has exceeded 40% Compounded Annual Growth since Program Growth by Concentration: AAIT/ITS (Information Technology Support) growth in 2009 is 1,249% AAIT/N (Networking) growth since 2007 is 187% AAIT/PRG (Programming) growth in 2009 is 4,684% AAIT/WD (Web Design) growth since 2007 is 179% AAIT Experiential Learning Website: html Together Axia College and Toolwire are equipping students with the knowledge and skills they need to be successful today and in the future of our evolving economy!

4 Student experience is top-of-mind for Axia College and University of Phoenix. Clearly, better student experience results in higher retention and enhanced student outcomes. Axia College has been collecting vast amounts of data related to student behavior, and has begun using this information to create a more innovative development process and build more engaging course materials. When Axia College decided to bring experiential learning to their AAIT concentrations, they looked to Toolwire to be a mutual partner in integrating hands-on and immersive lab environments with their current delivery methodology. The partnership between Toolwire and Axia College began as a collaborative relationship aimed at co-creating a skills-focused series of IT concentrations from the ground up. Toolwire brought their unique co-creation best practices to the table and together both companies created a multi-step development methodology aimed at compressing the timeframe to bring new, innovative programs to market. Together, Axia College s instructional design staff and the instructional engineers at Toolwire, set out to build a series of IT concentrations that offer learners the flexibility to pursue an IT degree in line with a variety of technology careers. These six concentrations were engineered from the ground up to leverage the power of experiential learning and provide students with critical hands-on experience through the inclusion of Toolwire LiveLabs and immersive learning environments. In this process, Toolwire worked hand-in-hand with Axia College s instructional designers to cocreate lab experiences focused on meeting the course objectives and outcomes of each IT course. Together Toolwire and the Instructional Design and Development team created LiveLabs, Student Desktops, and Scenarios focused on meeting all course requirements while providing an engaging student experience. To better appreciate the dynamic of this co-creation process it is important to consider the process flow used in creating these courses. For each course, Toolwire initially reviewed the topics and objectives provided by Axia College and from this created a Toolwire Assignment Mapping. This mapping documented the proposed lab types at a high level and a general overview of the learning outcomes. Meeting together, the Axia College and Toolwire teams selected the specific labs to include in relation to all student tasks and activities. Once all labs are agreed upon, Toolwire builds the required labs and appropriate Personal Student Desktop environments. At each phase of the development process, the Axia team is consulted and their ideas incorporated into the lab design and documentation. Experiential Learning provides Axia students with a more realistic, authentic learning experience. From a design and development perspective, these LiveLabs and Scenarios are ideal for learning practical skills where students need the freedom to experiment, test their current expertise, and gain competencies far beyond theory. And, the results have been very positive. Since launching the new Toolwire-enabled AAIT concentrations in 2008, course completion has risen 22%. See the figure below.

5 The Experiential Learning Difference Experiential learning enables students to step through a series of guided actions, work through real-world scenarios, and actively control live equipment. Unlike simulations, which limit the ability of students to fail within a closed and facilitated environment, live laboratories enable learning-bydoing in a true trial and error fashion much like learning to ride a bicycle. Yet experiential learning is not easily delivered. Live online labs and interactive virtual worlds require anytime access to real hardware and software via the Internet. This is no easy task and requires a centralized data center, 24x7 virtual learning environment, always-on customer service, installation and maintenance staff, dynamic hardware deployment platforms, software licensing, and other elements. Such costly infrastructure and expertise requirements are beyond the core competencies of most learning departments, colleges or universities. Axia College turned to Toolwire to host all such lab-related responsibilities and deliver state-of-theart experiential learning activities for their students. Doing so provides several benefits: Lower lab delivery costs No lab installation headaches or maintenance overhead Innovative curriculum with engaging real-world experiences, and Standardized hardware and software platforms across all campuses and locations. The power of experiential learning comes from three delivery platforms; each designed to enable students to achieve a technology apprenticeship :

6 1. Student Desktops 2. LiveLabs 3. Interactive Scenarios Student Axia College Faced with the challenge of disparate software versions, client configuration challenges, and cost issues related to software installation and configuration, Axia College turned to Toolwire to provide an innovative, all inclusive Personal Student Desktop (PSD) that provides a web-based IT workspace specifically built for each AAIT student. These applications will vary from program to program. For example: Adobe CS4 for Web Design and Development, Microsoft C++ and Sun Java for Programming, and Microsoft SQL 2008 for Database Development. The Personal Student Desktop (PSD) is a fully functional WindowsTM Desktop available anytime, from anywhere using an Internet-connected web browser. All configurations and data are stored on a central online platform. Though students work in a virtual machine, they receive complete administrative access to the software applications for the duration of their course. Additionally, the PSD includes a safe, personal, centralized online data storage facility. This allows students to store, save, and submit their course projects from a single web-enabled location. Furthermore, grading is simplified as students submit their assignments from within the Personal Student Desktop. Axia College LiveLabs are remote hands-on laboratories with live equipment accessed via a web-based anytime, anywhere interface. Live Labs are advanced experiential learning activities in which students step through a series of guided actions, work with real-world case studies, and actively control real equipment and applications in a distributed data center.

7 LiveLabs include case studies to develop the logic and troubleshooting skills necessary to solve day-to-day IT challenges. These performance-based activities include live hands-on access to real devices, challenging lab guides that help build experience by presenting real world challenges, and performance-based assessments. In the complex and sophisticated world of networking hardware, practice is very hard to achieve. Toolwire has pioneered an on-the-fly automated lab configuration platform called the Dynamic Switching Matrix (DSM). Interactive Axia College Interactive Scenarios are day-in-the-life experiences that combine the instructional power of LiveLabs with the engaging authenticity of virtual worlds filled with virtual avatars. Axia College has used these immersive day-in-the-life scenarios to provide real world context for IT programming, web design, and administrative tasks. Here s a typical AAIT scenario: It s your first day as ACME Inc. s junior network administrator. You have just been promoted from the Help Desk. Your phone rings. It s the Sales Director in Chicago with several new employees who need your help. During several virtual months, you will solve innumerable networking problems presented in varying scenarios. Along the way, you will receive a promotion, move to Chicago, make new friends, and gain valuable experience in ACME s live server room. In addition, students attend meetings in conference rooms with co-workers and provide interactive feedback to them via an intelligent responder. The information students gather is delivered in business speak and dynamically translated into IT tasks as notes in their lab guides. Many AAIT students believe this is the best way to learn because it combines the authenticity of case studies with the practical implementation of live equipment.

8 Enabling a New Generation of Learners for the Evolving Economy We are a different kind of university with a different kind of student and a different kind of faculty. We use a different teaching methodology. And we have succeeded because we are focused on a student-centered approach in all of our endeavors. William J. Pepicello President, University of Phoenix Axia College realizes that the new entrants to higher education and the evolving workplace bring different behaviors, different experiences and different demands. While many traditional colleges and universities are mired in Plato s Academy model (teachers teach knowledge and students receive it), Axia College has chosen instead to innovate and engage. In place of Plato s Academy model, Axia has focused on the more interactive model of his mentor, Socrates. The core of the Socratic approach is helping (not teaching) students learn critical thinking and analytic skills rather than specific content. It is focused on helping them develop the tools and techniques they need to thrive in the real world. One can only imagine what Plato or Socrates would have thought of the Internet. Today s Internet technologies enable students to achieve true learning by experiencing first hand the skills they seek to master. And by directly experiencing success and failure at important tasks, students can develop skills and retain competencies at a far higher level than they would have through traditional classroom instruction alone. Robert Kelley at Carnegie-Mellon University shined a bright light on this accelerating evolution in a study conducted over the past 20 years. In a survey of several thousand knowledge workers, he asked a simple question: What percentage of the knowledge you need to do your job is stored in your own mind? In 1986, the average percentage was 75%. In 2008, 10 years after the rise of the Internet, that percentage dropped to 8-10%. This means that 90% of the skills needed by today s knowledge workers are experiential. Experiential Learning is a perfect example because it teaches action not information. The place to store vast amounts of information is in libraries, not in heads. When we overlay the 21st Century Socratic approach with the tools provided through the World Wide Web and social computing, we have a powerful combination that works for our current era. Today s Internet-savvy students welcome immersive virtual worlds and the experiential learning tools that provide instant access to real-world practice and problem solving. The combination of six focused AAIT concentrations, built on the foundation of hands-on, remote experiential learning labs, has helped to bolster the Axia student experience and has lead to improved course completion and increased enrollments. Since partnering with Toolwire in 2006, the Axia AAIT enrollment conversion rate is up 176% overall and AAIT program demand has exceeded 40% Compounded Annual Growth. See figure below.

9 Performance and productivity are the cornerstones of achieving business results, innovation, and return on investment (ROI). The most effective learning is Experiential Learning (aka, just-in-time, on-the-job, technology-assisted apprenticeships). Once again, University of Phoenix has reinvented education. Thanks to a growing partnership with Toolwire, the modern online school has become an immersive virtual world filled with live equipment and real world experiential learning Stoneridge Mall Road, Suite 190 Pleasanton, CA (866) Toolwire, Inc. Information herein is subject to change without notice. Toolwire, the Toolwire logo and LiveLabs are trademarks of Toolwire in the USA and certain other countries. All other names, brands, and logos are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies in the USA and certain other countries.

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