Re-imagining College Learning at the World's Largest Math Emporium

Published February 2, 2015

By Communications Team

Once a bustling center of commerce in Austin, TX, the Highland Mall closed its doors in 2006 and then sat vacant for over a half-decade. Today, the walls that once housed a typical American strip mall contain miles of data cables and hundreds of computer workstations. The same place where you might have in years past found students from nearby Austin Community College (ACC) during study breaks or on weekends has become the world's largest 'math emporium.'

Changing the developmental math course delivery model from lecture-driven to a blended format has helped turn the Highland Campus ACCelerator into an epicenter of mathematics learning and academic achievement. Since launching in 2014, enrollment in ACCelerator math courses at Austin Community College has jumped over 40 percent, and the course withdraw rate is about half of the average for similar courses. Over 90 percent of students who've taken the course say they would recommend it to a friend, and over 1,000 students have enrolled for courses starting in spring of 2015.

ALEKS math lab
Students at the new Highland Campus are not only enrolling in more math courses and sticking with the courses they start, they're finishing them faster than ever before. "It's truly revolutionizing how our students learn. We have had students who completed the entire developmental mathematics sequence of three courses in a single semester," said ACC math development chair Dr. Constance Elko in a recent post for the ACC Newsroom.

ACCelerator courses are powered by ALEKS adaptive mathematics learning program -- an artificially intelligent assessment and learning system that caters instruction to each student's knowledge level. The highly-personalized ACCelerator courses ensure that all students receive instruction at the appropriate level. Instructors roaming the aisles of Highland Campus computer workstations actively monitor ACCelerator student performance and offer 1:1 consulting and support. This effective integration of advanced learning technology and human-to-human interaction helps increase engagement, boost academic confidence, and even saves money. Some ACC students are now able to complete two semesters worth of course material in just one.

At the 2014 Educause conference McGraw-Hill teamed-up with ACClerator course director Stacey Guney to give a live virtual tour of the Highland Campus from the floor of the conference exhibit hall. The transformation of the Highland Mall into the 'World's Largest Math Emporium' is a unique and inspiring story showing the evolution of the 21st century higher education learning experience.

Special thanks to Stacey Guney and Austin Community College for contributions to this post. Image courtesy of the Highland Campus ACCelerator at Austin Community College.