A new system that helps students in the DirectConnnect to UCF program as they transfer to the university is one of four winners of a national innovation award announced by the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies.

The Pathway program was created to help student development, academic and career planning, and academic and social integration. The program was recognized with the annual WCET Outstanding Work (WOW) Award, which is presented to colleges, universities and other organizations for exceptionally creative, technology-based solutions to a significant problem or need in higher education.

“The new Pathway component of DirectConnect to UCF enhances the transfer experience for students, and is intentionally and purposefully designed using innovative features that will increase student engagement and success,” said Jennifer Sumner, director of Regional Campuses’ academic support services.

The program was launched as a pilot in January with students from each of UCF’s five partner institutions: Daytona State College, Eastern Florida State College, Lake-Sumter State College, Seminole State College, and Valencia College. Pathway was fully launched this fall. There are 120 students in the program, and now that it has been fully launched, Regional Campuses expects the numbers to grow.

To help students, Pathway:

  • provides stronger and earlier career and academic preparation
  • offers structured and guided support to students before, during, and after their transfer
  • affords opportunities to develop and advance skills in order to promote career success and
  • ultimately offers a smoother and easier transition experience.
  • Touch-points have been set up to guide students along the way, such as when to complete career assessments, declarations of majors, attendance at skills workshops, participation with various student groups, and guided assistance in meeting requirements for the UCF application and transfer process.

    The Pathway uses online advising tools, and students can track their own academic and professional growth.

    “What makes the Pathway unique and innovative are the exclusively created technology elements designed to engage the students,” Sumner said. “The Pathway is built and accessible within UCF’s learning-management system of Canvas, provides students with 24/7 online access to advising and resources, uses virtual advising tools such as chats and video sessions, and awards digital badges that are themed to enhance student engagement.”

    Jeff Jones, vice provost for Regional Campuses, said Pathway is the culmination of work by Sumner, the state college partners, Regional Campuses and students themselves.

    “All played key roles in developing this tool,” he said, “As always, our team puts the success of our students as our primary goal. We feel that the Pathways project will further enhance our students opportunity  for success.”

    Cali Morrison, communications manager for WCET, said the Direct Connect to UCF Pathway was selected as an award winner because it answers a significant need with targeted goals and proven impacts in a creative and sustainable manner.

    “It serves as a model to the entire higher education community of a replicable program for planned transfer pathways and support can make a difference for students,” she said.

    The other winners for this year’s WOW Award are:

  • Boise State University: Virtual Reality Nursing Simulation with Custom Haptic System for Patient Safety allows students to practice sterile procedures in a gaming environment.
  • The NROC Project: EdReady, A College Math Readiness System is a personalized college math readiness system that helps students avoid the time and costs associated with remediation. 
  • University of Maryland University College: Open Educational Resources Initiative maximizes the use of OER across over 700 undergraduate courses.​