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Bridge to Success

Project website

What research questions the project addresses, aims & themes

Open Learning: Bridge to Success offers free, open educational resources (OER) to enable adults to improve basic mathematics skills and understand their own learning and personal development styles.

The project has overseen the development of two Open University Openings courses into online content, aimed at a US audience. The "bridging" approach adopted by the project has been shown to increase learning capability, facilitate independent learning and increase confidence, whilst encouraging participation and contributing to progression of a certificate or degree completion. The project's focus on the core area of mathematics is of particular note: competency in this subject is critical to many further areas of study.

Initially targeting disadvantaged and underserved groups in US community colleges, the project's reach has widened to involve other agencies and institutions. Instructors have utilised the Succeed with Math (SWiM) and Learning to Learn (L2L) courses in a myriad of ways: some pilots have used specific units to enhance existing courses, whilst others have utilised the courses as GED preparation and integrated course components into medical assistance and weatherisation training programmes.

How the research questions are addressed by the project (methodology and activity/environment)

The project's research questions fit into the broad themes of student outcomes, student experience, product design, learning environments and impact. Each of these areas has been linked to specific data collection and analysis action points. The project's research strand has adopted a tripartite methodology:

  1. Action research interviews with key stakeholders at key stages over the lifecycle of the project;
  2. Tracking learner performance, participation and usage with analytics;
  3. Evaluation of the learner experience in both the online and classroom environments. Users are encouraged to complete both pre- and post-questionnaires for both courses whilst instructors are invited to assess the course materials via a post-pilot survey. Analyses of the modifications made to course material have also been carried out.

Findings and outputs

Forthcoming June 2012.

Project impact

From the initial focus on community colleges the project's impact has widened to include family support centres, workforce development agencies, high schools, and plans are ongoing for the courses to be utilised by Mayoral Employment Development Offices, prisons and Baltimore libraries.


Post-June 2012 and publication of research findings.


Open Educational Resources (OER), Disadvantaged and underserved populations,

People involved

Patrick McAndrew (Principle Investigator, IET)
Patrina Law (UK Project Manager, IET)
Tim Coughlan (Research Associate, IET)
Beck Pitt (Research and Project Support, IET)
Hilary Holmes (Content and Curriculum Team, Staff Tutor: MCT)
Guy Barrett (Leading Technical Developer, LTS)
Cathy Jones (Media Project Manager, LTS)
Nikki Tolcher (Media Coordinator, LTS)
Andrew Law (Director, OMU)
Ormond Simpson (Consultant on Distance Education; Visiting Fellow University of London Centre for Distance Education; Tutor on Y162)
Felicity Bryers (Tutor: MCT)
Kate Chicot (Staff Tutor: MCT)
Gary Elliott-Cirigottis (Business Improvement and Programme Manager, IET)

Jean Runyon (Dean, Virtual Campus, AACC)
John Beyers (Director & Professor, Mathematics & Statistics, UMUC)
Kathy Warner (Assistant Dean of Social, Behavioural, Natural and Mathematical Sciences, UMUC)
Alicia Morse (Associate Professor of Mathematics, AACC)
Brandon Muramatsu (Senior Educational Technology Consultant, MIT)
David Lascu (Project Manager, Virtual Campus, AACC)
Alyson Muff (Professor of Math and Statistics, Mathematical Sciences Faculty, UMUC)
Candace Orsetti (Editor, Course Design and Development, UMUC)
Jim Brocker (Editor, Course Design and Development, UMUC)
Heather Riordan (Mathematics Department Faculty, AACC)
Sybille Clayton (Mathematics Department Faculty, AACC)
Sabrina Marschall (Program Director: Education, GraduateSchool, UMUC)
Andrew Studnicky (Lead XML Developer, Virtual Campus, AACC)
Thiha Aye (Director of eLearning and Instructional Technology, AACC)

Project partners and links

Anne Arundel Community College (AACC)

The Open University (OU)

University of Maryland University College (UMUC)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)



The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

(Next Generation Learning Challenges funded project - see the Announcement)

Start Date and duration

April 2011 - January 2013

Research & Innovation