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Crowdsourcing Innovation

U.S. public higher education faces increasing challenges, including: changing models of educational delivery, declining state funding, alternative credentialing, demographic shifts in student populations, questions concerning the relevancy of the curriculum, increased cost, and increasing legislative scrutiny. Portland State is not immune to these challenges.

Portland State University faculty, staff and administrators responded to these challenges by launching Provost Challenge. $3 million dollars of restricted one-time funds from the online fee was used to fund this work. Awards were made in 3 categories: Acceleration Challenge, Reframing Challenge and Inspiration Challenge.


Brief description from the Provost Challenge RFP is included below:

Acceleration Challenge: Multiple awards ranging from $100,000 – $300,000 will be made available for strategic, high impact clusters of on-line classes (not individual/single courses). Priorities will be given to clusters which provide complete online programs and degrees, positively impact a large number of PSU students, enhance student success and time to degree and improve outcomes for students at lower cost.

Reframing Challenge: Multiple awards ranging from $150,000 – $350,000 will be made available for collaborative projects that leverage innovation in technology to make dramatic changes in the delivery of high-quality and affordable education. These should be big ideas where the commitment is made to affect change in a short amount of time. Possibilities include, but are not limited to, incorporating credit for prior learning; rethinking the number of credits required for degrees; using massive open online classes (MOOCs) developed either by PSU or others; reimagining credentialing; developing proficiency-based curriculum; and/or designing collaborations that lead to degree completion with community colleges, other universities within and outside the Oregon University System, and international partners.

Inspiration Challenge: Multiple awards ranging from $5,000 – $20,000 each will be given to new projects that develop solutions which use technology to lead to improved student success and graduation. This challenge is modeled on the success of the Last Mile initiative ( at PSU, which has shown that it is possible to have a large impact with very modest cost when we are inspired to collaborate around an opportunity or issue that affects our students.

Relevant project documents are available:

RFP for Provost Challenge

Collaboration Website used for updating, commenting and public feedback:

List of Finalists

Budget Development Process

Proposal Review Process


List of Funded Projects

Introductory Video

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