Who We Are
For almost 9 years now Rockcliffe University Consortium has been a supporter of digital education, media, arts, and sciences using virtual technologies. While the majority of our assets center around the Second Life platform we are also involved in other technologies for content delivery including OpenSimulator, Unity, Moodle, WebEx, Livestream, MediaWiki, WordPress, and multiple social media platforms .
Rockcliffe is committed to the concept of open source and open access. We receive over 70,000+ visits per year in Second Life alone, plus 10,000+ library visits per month on our website, from people interested in online education, game development, research, and virtual collaboration. Our expertise has been recognized through contracted engagements and consultation with universities, colleges, government agencies, non-profit, and for-profit organizations .
What We Do
Every year since 2009, Rockcliffe has been the principal coordinator of the Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education Conference. This annual, peer reviewed, event brings together over 2200 educators, designers, tool developers, and artists from around the world to discuss current technology trends in education regardless of the platform. The conference proceedings are published as an open source journal for others to reference in addition to providing collections of other reference material to assist educators and researchers find current information sources on virtual collaborative environments.
Rockcliffe is involved with numerous 501c3 organizations that have their own special mandate. As part of our mission we try to help people, regardless of ability or status, to augment their marketable skills by providing opportunities that prospective employers will find valuable. Whether someone is deaf, blind, a quadriplegic, or has other health concerns, Rockcliffe tries to help people find a balanced approach to skill development that meets their needs and requirements.
Rockcliffe is also involved in directed research on new techniques and methodologies related to knowledge emergence and its application in the presence of technology. The results of these research efforts have been published in various peer-reviewed publications.
While most of Rockcliffe’s products and services are freely available, the service itself does not come cheap. Rockcliffe leverages open access services wherever it is reasonable prudent to do so. As a result our annual budget is approximately $25,000 which is mostly covered by the financial contribution from Rockcliffe’s founders, some general donations, the sale of voluntary carbon offsets, and the occasional consultation contract with universities on joint projects.
How We are Organized
Rockcliffe is a registered non-profit C-Corp in the United states however we are not a 501(c)3. Structurally we are organized along the lines of a B-Corp. The organization is made up completely of volunteers. The entire organization is a collection of global SOHO locations tied together through a common technical infrastructure that serves as a proxy for a brick and mortar location. While the majority of our volunteers are from the United States, Rockcliffe also have volunteers based in Canada, the United Kingdom, France, and Australia.
No one at Rockcliffe takes a salary or is remunerated through dividends or other means. A small stipend, with a fixed maximum cap per year, is paid to specific key volunteers to help offset personal expenses that would otherwise be considered a normal cost of doing business if everyone was co-located.
Most funds received by Rockcliffe are reinvested back into technical infrastructure, educational programs, research, administrative costs (such as tax preparation), association fees, and licensing. Some funds are set aside for voluntary carbon offsets which are used to make Rockcliffe’s operations carbon neutral. Additional funds are set aside for Rockcliffe to contribute to other charitable causes, including Relay for Life, and helps to support other volunteer and community led organizations in the fields of accessibility, education, healthcare, and digital arts.
As a registered member of the Carbon Trade Exchange, Rockcliffe is committed to being a carbon neutral organization by investing in renewable energy and forestry projects, CO2 reduction, ecological preservation, and sustainable technologies.
Short Term Objectives
Our short-term goal is to develop a sustainable business model whereby we can hire approximately 8-12 full time staff and expand our service offerings. Initially the services Rockcliffe will be focused on professional development and research. In addition to development of the back-end infrastructure necessary to support these services Rockcliffe will also be focusing on becoming accredited with various standard development organizations and certification bodies in increasing order of complexity as our business expands.
The first step in that process is accreditation.
Immediate Goal: ANSI/IACET 1-2013 certification
For organizations involved with professional and academic education, there are multiple organizations accredited by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). In addition, there are also certification standards published by international standard development organizations under ANSI, ISO, and CEN. Certification in a specific standard should not be confused with academic accreditation. The two work together to establish quality standards for education, management, and best practices.
The International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET) is the standards development organization accredited by ANSI to manage the ANSI/IACET 1-2013 certification standard. As the official standard for continuing education and training (CE/T) in the United States, IACET Continuing Education Units (CEUs) are recognized by a wide range of organizations, including professional associations, regulatory boards, corporations and universities.
IACET CEUs are transferable, however, it is up to each organization to choose whether or not it will accept the CEUs. For a current listing of which organisations are known to accept CEUs you can reference the IACET CEU Directory and/or contact those organizations directly for more information about CEUs and any restrictions or limitations on transferability.
ANSI/IACET 1-2013 certification is an ideal stepping stone for Rockcliffe as it will help us develop the necessary quality controls to extend into other certification and accreditation standards as we grow.
In order to apply, the cost of the IACET application package is $450 USD. At the time of submission, applicants are also required to submit a non-refundable application fee of $3,250 USD. This fee covers administrative costs, expenses related to the site visit and honoraria. After AP accreditation, an organization pays yearly accreditation fees of $835 USD.
Immediate Goal: Infrastructure Development
Prior to this we have a lot of additional work to do including major upgrades to our infrastructure to support the sustainable management of student records, transcripts, privacy, and information security. Open access systems are a great starting point and they have served Rockcliffe well up to this point.
Immediate Goal: Independent Verification
Rockcliffe is also vetting our learning model as part of an instructional development IRB sanctioned research project with the University of Texas Pan-American. The research focuses on the efficacy of developing a fully online outcomes-based professional development and continuing education program giving special consideration to practices and theories that are appropriate to adult learners. Approved by the University of Texas Pan-American IRB in November 2014, the research study is expected to conclude late 2015 or early 2016.
Rockcliffe is looking to raise the needed seed capital to continue our expansion plans through a combination of unique pay-to-play interactive learning games, crowdsourcing, and voluntary carbon offsets (VCOs). Our initial requirements are to raise $10,000 to complete the projects noted above in 2015. Our longer range goal however is to raise an additional $2 million which will be spent on job creation, infrastructure improvements, privacy enhancement, software development (including mobile apps), marketing, educational programs, and research. It is our intention to be fully sustainable by 2020.
We are not perfect. We never pretended to be. We have never put ourselves out there as anything other than what we are – a fledgling start-up that is struggling to have our voice heard like many other small organisations out there.
We obviously have something to offer as close to 200,000 visit per year is not chump change. We want to take this to the next level and we are hoping that the community will support us in doing the same.