New teaching methods at college
|Lassen Community College (LCC) political science instructor Toni Poulsen uses an interactive whiteboard while teaching a lesson. The new whiteboards have been installed in classrooms as part of LCC’s technology upgrades. Photo by Ruth Ellis|
Oct. 30, 2012 — New technology installed in Lassen Community College (LCC) classrooms is designed to better-engage students in an era of technology-driven learning.
LCC received a five-year Title III Strengthening Institutions Grant from the United States Department of Education and will receive $400,000 a year.
The work LCC has been doing to increase classroom technology has been featured in the national publication ED TECH Magazine and an online video.
Of the grant, LCC instructor and academic senate president Cheryl Aschenbach said, “It’s developed so institutions can strengthen themselves, really.”
The grant is made up of four primary pieces — increasing classroom success, expanding online student services, better documenting and publicizing student outcome information and increasing the growth and resource development of the Lassen College Foundation and using some of the money for scholarships.
As part of the grant application, Aschenbach explained part of the process was identifying areas LCC perceived as weak or needed improvement and then staff developed a plan on how it was going to improve those things.
“Classroom technology, specifically, was an area that we identified as a means to further improve student success rates,” Aschenbach said.
She explained, “We wanted to improve persistence from semester to semester, retention overall and success — that we have more students succeed and complete here.”
With the grant money LCC has installed PolyVision interactive whiteboards, NEC short throw projectors and mini doc cameras in all of the math and science labs, except chemistry, and the regular lecture-based classrooms. Aschenbach said the rooms are equipped consistently so instructors who are assigned to two to three different rooms have no problem using the material.
The new technology additions help meet LCC’s goal of improving student success by “being able to use more current technologies in the classroom to appeal to students more, to be able to utilize more outside web resources, rather than just straight lecture or old-fashioned video,” Aschenbach said.
Another piece of the grant was professional development in regards to active learning strategies and engagement in the classroom, “so that we can really try to get students engaged in their education more as educators, rather than just giving them information.”
The upgrades, according to Aschenbach, allow instructors to be more interactive in front of the classroom.
She said, “We also have the ability to get to the Internet so we can use short video clips, we can find examples online that are relevant to the topic.
Before the new technology was implemented, the only technology LCC had was a television with a VCR/DVD combination, said Aschenbach.
“Just trying to project information was difficult to do. You couldn’t count on it. We relied on handouts, we just relied on talking according to the book and, you know for students that’s not interesting and it doesn’t appeal to our media-centric students at all.”
According to Aschenbach, students seem favorable to the upgrades.
“They appreciate the visual instruction, they appreciate the current examples … when you go out and grab a clip, or photos, link to cases on line, say in a law class. To be able to go out and grab information and bring it right into the classroom that’s current … that makes things seem more relevant to the students I have talked to,” she said.
Faculty also seems in favor of the changes.
“It’s been nice for faculty to freshen up what they’re doing and be a little more innovative and forward thinking,” Aschenbach said.
LCC purchased much of its equipment from CDW, whose partner is ED TECH and that is how Aschenbach said she believes LCC caught the attention of the magazine.
“They like to try to promote what other schools are doing to give further ideas to others, so that’s why we were selected,” Aschenbach said.
In the five-year grant period, Aschenbach said LCC will be looking to add 25 online services, which will include allowing students to apply and pay online and access their transcripts.
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