Community college ‘flips’ classrooms

“Flipping” the classroom –putting lectures online and using class time for coaching, collaboration and discussion — is the latest thing at Grand Rapids Community College, reports EdTech Magazine.

“The idea is not new, but the technology gives more power, flexibility and opportunity to make use of the limited face-to-face time we have for true student engagement and interactive learning.” says Eric Kunnen, director of distance learning and instructional technologies.

Says Professor Garry Brand, GRCC’s lead faculty facilitator of distance learning and instructional technologies, in a TechSmith whitepaper: “These days, students who miss an important point the first time have a second chance. After class, they can pipe the lecture to their laptops or MP3 players and hear it again while looking at the slides that illustrate the talk.”

Shifting lectures to out-of-class time lets professors cover more material and prepares students to participate in class discussions, advocates hope.

MOOC opens the door

The World of Massive Open Online Courses

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The transfer students are coming!

Universities need to prepare for a tidal wave of transfer students, warns Marc Cutright, a higher education professor at the University of North Texas and an associate of the National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students. That means fixing a “leaky pipeline,” he writes in Inside Higher Ed.

Hoping to save money, more bachelor’s-seeking students are starting at community colleges.  The new transfers will be savvier about the system, Cutright predicts. They’ll demand fair, consistent evaluation and acceptance of their credits and “convenient access to correct, timely information about following the best paths to transfer success.”  That’s the exception now.

. . .  all too often, credits are tossed out by receiving institutions or their disciplinary faculties without real examination of course content or the putting aside of untested assumptions about community college quality. A student may have vastly different results in credit acceptance, depending on whether Bob or Lisa is on the credit-evaluation desk that day. Websites, print materials, and the advice of counselors can be woefully disconnected from actual practice and even compliance with state regulation.

More of our new transfer students will simply have more social capital — more “insider” knowledge and stronger support systems. When those factors meet institutional caprice, more challenges to rulings can be expected, more push exerted from students who, for example, have parents who attended college and know which buttons to press.

In addition, state legislatures are trying to simplify and streamline credit transfers in order to save money.  Legislators also are exploring funding formulas that reward universities for graduating transfer students.

In the past, most community college transfers have moved to a nearby university. But increasingly students can go online to evaluate whether the local university helps transfers complete a degree. If not, students have many online learning options. Nobody’s limited by geography any more.

. . .  a community college graduate in Sugar Land, Texas, can complete a bachelor’s degree through offerings from 400-miles-away Wichita Falls at in-state tuition, with financial aid eligibility, and without leaving home, is there any doubt that such programs can get more students with quality programs and even modest marketing? Institutions that depend implicitly on a “take it or leave it” approach to transfer students may find more students saying, “I’ll leave it.”

Universities also need to prepare for returning veterans with  “educational ambitions, government assistance, and bigger knots of transfer credits than ever before.”

Teaching by Skype

Minnesota students are learning German from a teacher in Finland, reports Community College Times. Skype software keeps the costs down.

Ann Toumi’s image appears on a flat-screen monitor in a class at Central Lakes College (CLC) each Tuesday at 5 p.m. For Toumi, it’s 1 a.m. on Wednesday.

Wearing a headset and fueled by chocolate mint ice cream after completing a graveyard shift, Toumi launches into the class for beginners. Class concludes at 8:50 p.m. (4:30 a.m. in Finland).

CLC offers dozens of online courses, but this is the first one to be taught using Skype. The class starts with German language greetings, and spoken words are instantly viewed on the screen beneath Toumi, who gently corrects verbal mistakes.

“She hears everything,” said student Rhonda Carkhuff. “The delivery method works very well.”

Toumi, an English professor at the University of Eastern Finland, has taught high school and college classes in Minnesota, including an in-person stint at CLC.  Students also can turn to a lab assistant and two German exchange students. Aides can be called in to handle Internet and computer problems.

Toumi teaches 30 CLC students: Most are beginners, but she also works with three advanced students.