The Distance Learning Department has made great strides in a variety of key areas over the past two years because of funding and resources made available through Title III Grant. The following is what I consider our major accomplishments. I hope to build on what we have done and start taking Distance Learning to a whole new level in the coming year.
• A comprehensive Professional Development initiative was initiated for all online faculty in both the technical aspects of teaching online and in instructional design strategies and methodology. Every full time and part time adjunct (120 +) have been certified by attending our 6 hour Blackboard Boot Camps over the past 2 years.
Training college faculty in the latest distance learning methodology and instructional technologies has been a huge but imperative undertaking. The demand for online courses is growing annually and students are arriving in these courses with more advanced and sophisticated technological skills (awareness) than ever before due to the cyber / media culture they have grown up in. That is why we initiated a series of Blackboard Boot Camps in order to get all our online faculty trained in online course management systems and instructional design theory.
• A QAP Online Course “Peer Review” process has been implemented campus wide. Before the QAP was initiated there was a lack of visual and instructional continuity in our online course offerings. Over the past year a team of veteran online faculty and instructional design staff have been in the process of reviewing every online course at Carteret Community College using a comprehensive check-sheet that addresses a variety of technical and instructional design best practices.
The purpose of the QAP peer review process is to establish and maintain ensured quality for all CCC Distances Learning courses. Our goal is to be able to provide a minimum standard of quality for all CCC Distance Education Courses and move our courses into higher standards through a process of continuous improvement. Objective, peer review allows for us to offer online the highest quality, and more “learner friendly” courses in an ever- increasing competitive online teaching environment.
We are into the third phase (year) of our Distance Learning Pioneer program. Dl Pioneers represent a cross section of Carteret Community College faculty and staff that have committed to either completely upgrading and retooling their online classes (adding content specific visuals, producing audio instructional podcasts and enhancing course content) they are already teaching or developing new online courses (or innovative online work environments for staff) for the college. These distance learning pioneers are also participating in a variety of professional development activities (paid for by Title III) such as, workshops, conferences and seminars in order to not only upgrade their courses technically, but are upgrading their online teaching methods as well. Twenty faculty have successfully gone through this intense training and we now have 5 staff and 5 faculty participating in this Pioneer project at this time. Those DL Pioneers that have already been through the program mentoring other online faculty who have not.
We’re blazing into a new realm of student support here at CCC. The power of distance learning at our College is dramatic, and undeniable. As our DL program turns 10 this semester, we have reached some dramatic milestones:
* 169 online (web-based, hybrid, and full) courses are being taught this semester;
* 72% of students enrolled this semester are taking at least one online course;
* 47% of courses offered are being taught online
With this backdrop, it is critical to understand that we MUST provide all of our support services online. We currently have advising online and we have recently implemented an online tutoring service. After reviewing the field of proprietary online tutoring services, we determined that, at this time, it may be more cost-effective (and more effective overall) to develop our own in-house tutoring service. Online tutoring is available for English, Math, Biology and Anatomy & Physiology and as more and more faculty and students learn of the benefits of this service it is beginning to grow and become part of the fabric of the learning process at CCC. The service is in its infancy as we continue to learn what does and does not work, but in the meantime, we continue to move forward with this exciting initiative.
Any faculty member at CCC can contact the Distance Learning Lab and make an appointment with our Instructional Technologist Pre-Ah Hill or a distance learning intern for one on one intensive and focused course specific training. This begins with an initial consultation that identifies the types of technical and/or instructional design upgrades that the faculty member wants to make to his or her online course. This also includes training our faculty in all aspects of Blackboard (CMS) and new software such as audacity and movie maker in order to produce innovative instructional podcasts, enhanced podcasts and videos to be uploaded into the faculty members blackboard.
Carteret Community College held its first Distance Learning forum moderated by Dr. Abbie Brown and Dr. Bill Sugar both Professors in the Instructional Technology Graduate Program at East Carolina University. It was an extremely productive event, and I believe will be a catalyst for some of the initiatives we implement in the coming year. One thing continues to be very evident and was brought out by many participants in the forum. Education is evolving and changing rapidly. The tools, techniques, methods and environments are changing. However, good teaching is still good teaching, whether it’s done in the online environment or the traditional classroom environment. It goes back to the “Human Element”. The personal touch – the connection between the teacher and student. If that connection isn’t made (and nurtured) the teaching / learning, journey will be an uphill climb. The issues brought out and identified at this forum using the SWOT approach (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) will continue to be addressed as we develop and structure new professional development activities for our faculty and staff at CCC.
Due to the great strides our Distance Learning Department have made in the areas of professional development and instructional media production over the past 2 years thanks to the funding and resources made available through Title III. We’ve been recognized at the state level for our work and in turn have applied for and received additional state grants to produce online instructional design resources for the state Community College System. Last year we received $7,400 to produce a comprehensive training package on all aspects of Podcasting and this year we were granted $10,700 to produce instructor resources for Blogging, YouTube and ITunes University. (See Below)
General information will be provided giving a description of podcasting, some of the benefits for students, the equipment (hardware and software) needed for podcasting, and information on where to obtain software.
The project participants will tell the benefits of using Podcasting, including some statistical information that relates to student retention in classes where podcasting is available. The list of resources will include names to contact for assistance as well as web sites where software can be downloaded, along with directions on how to proceed. The goal is to provide all of the information that a college will need to get started on podcasting.
General information will be provided giving a description of instructional uses for Blogging, YouTube and ITunes University. Our team will describe some of the benefits of these web based tools for students, the equipment (hardware and software) needed for them, and information on where to obtain software needed use them effectively.
The project participants will tell the benefits of using Blogging, YouTube and ITunes U including some statistical information that relates to student retention in classes where these tools are available. They will also produce new instructional content in a variety of discipline areas as examples of these tools can be applied to any online course. The list of resources will include names to contact for assistance as well as web sites where software can be downloaded, along with directions on how to proceed. The goal is to provide all of the information that a college will need to get started on Blogging, YouTube and ITunes U.
All of these initiatives are at different phases of progress and implementation at CCC. We plan to continue building on our success (and efforts) in these various areas and hopefully will be able to start gathering viable data as to how these campus wide initiatives are effecting and impacting student success and retention at Carteret Community College. Title III has been a primary catalyst for faculty and staff upgrading, online course evaluations, generating additional grant funding, self study through our forums and adding new services like online tutoring for our students.