In February, 10 faculty members and 2 staff members attended the North Carolina Community College Alliance for Distance Learning annual meeting. It was a bitter sweet year at the NC3ADL. We were all very happily excited that the conference was held in the first place. It is these opportunities where people stand the most to gain…particularly those who are not familiar with attending conferences. I know that CCC was well-represented and that Patrick Keough (our DL director) deserves loads of credit for motivating such an auspicious and energetic group to attend and participate. As you will see below, a lot of great learning took place. And this is the bitter part … budgets as they have been this year, have kept A LOT of participants away. As we all know, the participants really make the conference. The presentations stimulate discussions that take place in the session…and usually afterward at the break, over lunch, over dinner, and over time. I was fortunate to be to make two presentations: One on our online service offerings (e.g. online tutoring, counseling), the other on our efforts to assess the effectiveness of our online instruction. Both of these presentations can be downloaded (along with all relevant documents) elsewhere on this blog. The NC3ADL has done a great job at bringing people together to discuss this important, leading edge instructional technology. Whether budgets or tight or robust, DL will continue to grow as demand to teach and learn online in community colleges continues to expand. I am proud to work at CCC and have such energetic, creative colleagues who are willing to take this leadership role.
Director, Title III
Read Patrick’s reflections by clicking here.
Director, Distance Learning
Overall, I think the conference was worthwhile. This was my first exposure to a system-wide distance learning conference. As an instructor, I would have enjoyed hearing more about what new features individual distance learning instructors were incorporating and what difficulties they were experiencing in the DL classroom. A number of the presentations were probably geared more towards DL coordinators and technical people. In addition, there seemed to be a huge number of presentations from vendors promoting new products. That was a surprise to me. The conference was particularly useful as a networking tool, allowing me to meet not only instructors from other schools, but even a psychology instructor from another community college. The presentation that I enjoyed the most was the one on creating 3-D objects (a brain for example) and using them in DL courses. I also enjoyed the presentation made by UNC-TV which highlighted some of the free helps and materials on their website and the PBS website. In some ways, the conference generated more questions for me than it answered. I do think, however, that I benefited simply from the exposure to this event.
Melinda J. Q. Rouse, M.A., L. P.C.
My reasons for attending the DL conference in Raleigh were to educate myself on different and more proficient ways to deliver online education to my EMS students. I do believe the conference was a success for me.
I attended several workshops including Improving Student Engagement with Collaboration which information was concerning Wimba software which has a free component which we found out later in the conference was being implemented into Blackboard. Otherwise, the product would be almost impossible to purchase considering the current budget issues.
I also attended Gift for Purchase: What You Get for Free with Blackboard which informed us of free products offered through Blackboard. Most of this was already available though our college but I certainly was unaware of how they could benefit my program. I will be looking at incorporating what we have available to us now and free.
I attended the Integrating Real Science into Virtual Environments for Online Learning. This session was based on Biology and science course with expensive software that would not pertain to my curriculum although it was very interesting.
The Hybrid Firefighter I and II Program Review was one of the best sessions I attended. Mr. Kirk is the Fire and EMS coordinator for DL at Davidson Community College. He basically delivered a question and answer session since there was only two of us attending the session. He showed how he facilitated the FF I and II program as a hybrid which certainly is very similar to the EMS curriculum. I acquired a lot of information about what it takes to put EMS online.
Homegrown Online Services hosted by our own Don Staub was well presented and informative about the DL tutoring available through our college. I even learned a little something about our tutoring at the college.
What’s in Your E-Learning Tool Box was disappointing in that financially it was unobtainable at this time. Due to budget cuts, I am looking for things to do with what we have available to us now.
Another session by Kelly Kirk, Davidson Community College titled The Good, the Bad and the Ugly in Online Classes was very much informative about EMS classes. He mad the class fun and interactive while showing examples of what to do and what not to do. I saw some things I was already doing that were good and several things I need to improve on in my DL classes.
All in all, the conference opened my mind to some possibilities of how to engage my students in order to deliver convenient but informative classes to the students enrolled in the EMS program. I realize I really am not doing a good job in DL. I have been motivated to do better.
Curriculum Area Coordinator, Emergency Management Systems
It had been several years since I attended a distance learning conference so I thought I was overdue for attending and seeing what all is available to us. I certainly was inspired by all of the technology and what it can do for us. I found the sessions centered on improving teaching most valuable, especially the web 2.0 session with Kelly Kirk (note I do not have my booklet with me at the moment so I am trying to recall from memory). I attended many sessions given by organizations selling their products. It was neat to see what all is available but sometimes frustrating because in such a bad budget time one wonders if we could afford such options. Some of what they highlighted included free products of blackboard, wimba and pronto, moodle, etc. I also attended several sessions on engaging students. I especially liked the auditory discussion board as I think that would make them more discussion like and engaging. I also feel it will decrease plagiarism as students would be talking and less likely to cut and paste materials. The auditory discussion board does requires students and faculty to have up to date computers and resources.
While I was inspired, I must also admit feeling a little overwhelmed about how to do all of this with limited time and resources. I felt many of our courses at Carteret Community College compared favorably and even exceeded some of the packages being advertised for which Pre-Ah and Patrick, in particular, should be commended and feel proud.
Curriculum Area Coordinator -Social Sciences
I was impressed with the scope and wide range of presentations at the NC3ADL conference. This was the first one I have had the opportunity to attend. Thank you for this chance to see what this organization was about. I was excited by the depth and variety of materials available, but unfortunately much of the resources were expensive and out of our reach at this time. However it was helpful to see the rapidly expanding source of free materials the state is obtaining for us to us and share. An unexpected benefit of attending was I realized companies producting online classes are rapidly expanding and these are a new source of potential employers for my graduates.
Curriculum Area Coordinator
I anticipated that I would learn more technology to use in my web-enhanced English classes, and I was not disappointed. I very much appreciated the opportunity was available to an instructor who is not online and just beginning to learn how to use the Blackboard technology already in place.
I began with “Improving Student Engagement with Collaboration.” The Regional Sales Manager led the audience through a rundown of the Wimba Collaboration Suite. While this was informative, I knew that our college did not have the materials she was selling. At the end of the presentation, she agreeably showed the audience the free Wimba Pronto tool. I was startled to later hear from Patrick Keough that we have this tool. I look forward to some hands-on training at CCC.
The elearning Toolbox presentation was not of much use to me although I learned that several other participants felt just as lost as I did in my ability to know how to use what our college does help. Several participants said that they were sorry the push was on sales of software when none of us had any power, any funding, or any knowledge. Actually, my knowledge did increase as I had heard of READI (not to be confused with our college’s “ready” model).
The session by the Spanish instructor from Central Piedmont was interesting: “Learn Anyway, Anywhere, Anytime.” I did not find anything that I can apply at this time, being without devices like ipods and mp3 players.
Finally, one of the coolest sessions was “Applying Interactive 3D Technology in the Classroom.” I was ready to quit teaching and go take classes at Fayetteville Tech.
In truth, I feel like I might audit an online technology class at some point in the future. All in all, the conference got my toes wet, and I am curious to find out more about what we have here. I was startled to learn, for example, that we have the plagiarism technology in place in Blackboard already. Let’s find it!
Instructor, College Prep Program
This year’s NC3ADL Conference provided a valuable opportunity to learn about the most current theory and application of distance learning in higher education. It also offered an opportunity to be introduced to products that may help to create an engaging learning environment for online learners. By attending this conference, I was also able to share ideas with other colleagues across the state that have an interest in developing online course offerings for health sciences.
I attended a session that provided an overview of Virtual Microscope Explorer, which is software that simulates the use of a microscope and allows students to view micrographic images of plant and animal cells. The NCCCS has purchased a system-wide license for this software. I have provided instructions for accessing the software to the faculty in my division.
I also attended a session that demonstrated an online Anatomy & Physiology course currently being offered through Johnston Community College. The course was developed using virtual dissections, simulated laboratory exercises and a laboratory kit which students purchase for home use. Over the past few years, I have witnessed the notion of online science courses transcend from “no way” to “let’s find a way”.
One of the sessions I attended provided an overview of the products that are available at no cost to Blackboard users. These products include plagiarism detection, instant messaging, and lecture capture tools.
I attended two sessions which centered on SoftChalk LessonBuilder software. One session provided an overview of the software and the other session demonstrated how a physical therapy instructor used the software to create learning objects for her courses. The software appears to be a user-friendly product that allows an instructor to create engaging, interactive course content. The end-product is packaged as an individual object that can be imported into a course management system, such as Blackboard, or made available on a server or CD. This is the software that the NCCCS VLC will be using to create learning objects for the Learning Objects Repository (LOR). I am interested in obtaining a license for this software so that I can create learning objects for my courses.
As my graduate studies centered on online course methodology and design, I chose sessions that centered on products to increase student engagement and interaction. However, I did attend a session that provided an overview of best and worst practices in online course design. It appears that there is presently a significant variation in the quality of online course offerings. The VLC is helping to address this issue through the LOR, however individual colleges must make the commitment to evaluate the quality of the courses they offer in order to reduce attrition and increase student success.
Division Director, Allied Health
I found most of the sessions to be informative and pertinent to my understanding of distance learning techniques that I might employ in my classes. The following is my summation of the sessions I attended:
Sunday, Feb. 15, 2009
Staying in the Game: A Systematic Approach to Online Course Evaluation
This program proved to be useful in my assessing whether a course I teach in the classroom (e.g., Public Speaking) might be migrated, in part, to an online environment at Carteret Community College. I learned that models for this type of course exist elsewhere in other community college curricula, requiring further research on my part.
PodCasting and iTunes University
This class served as a refresher, since I had already been to several sessions in the past two years dealing with the same subject matter.
Monday, Feb. 16, 2009
Improving Student Engagement with Collaboration
This program was a review of the Wimba Voice (interactive, web-based audio) and Wimba Pronto (instant messenger) suite of products. I believe that the Wimba Voice product—allowing the posting of instructor voice announcements on the Discussion Board, for example—would be a decided plus in my online ENG 114 business communications course. It would facilitate the creation of teams to do assignments online, a process that currently works solely in the classroom. The live demonstrations of video/audio contact with others in a webcam environment (many thousands of miles from the Raleigh site) were especially effective in demonstrating product capabilities.
Enhancing Online Courses: A Next Generation Digital Video Repository for High Education
This program was a sales pitch for the subscription-based Intelcom Online Resouces Network, a video packager of images appropriate to many disciplines. Since my interest is in the arts, I learned that Intelcom has no plans to incorporate arts images in its catalog in the near future. In addition, many of the images currently being offered are said by the vendor “to be out of date (at least five years old).” Much of the catalog is said to be under review for replacement.
Adobe Connect Pro
This program was ostensibly about a web conferencing program offered by Adobe Systems. The program may be cost-effective at $1,400 a year to allow 10 concurrent sessions with up to 100 students in each session; however, the presenters did a poor job in displaying and describing the features of the program.
The Myth of Change: Changing the Face of Distance Learning Video
This program featured examples of the well-produced digital video catalog available from the Annenberg Foundation and a powerful search engine that would start a video clip at an exact word chosen (e.g., Theatre at Dionysis). The fact that the Foundation has PBS videos in its digital collection might be advantageous for my drama/theatre appreciation classes.
Homegrown Online Services
Although I had received e-mails regarding the online tutoring services at CCC, it wasn’t until this program that the service offering as presented clicked in my consciousness. I made a note to promote the service in my online classes.
Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2009
Applying Interactive 3D Technology
So it’s back to the future, with a technology that I experienced in the movie houses of the 1950s and now in a renaissance of its own. Its applications in certain disciplines (e.g., anatomy, physics), as demonstrated by the Fayetteville Technical Community College team, made me wish I were 20 years younger to employ such technology in my classes. This was a fascinating program, the kind that motivates instructors to really think outside the box.
Part-Time Instructor – English, Communications, Drama