By Jennifer R. Hill
Every college student knows the terror of setting the alarm clock for p.m. instead of a.m., and sleeping through that first class of the day. Then it’s a domino effect. That biology lecture on mitosis is missed and then chances of passing that next quiz is the only thing dividing in half.
Now students at Calhoun Community College have no need to frantically track down teachers or classmates trying to stay up on missed classes, because the information is right at their fingertips on the Internet.
The campus has been setup for WebCT on the Internet for at least three years now. This enables students to access their class information like syllabuses, assignments posted by professors, send e-mail to teachers, and use various other one-click tools.
Podcasting is now accessible at Calhoun through the WebCT through Tegrity, a licensed student-achievement system that makes classes available by capturing, storing, and indexing every class on the campus so that the students can replay them.
Podcasting refers to videos downloaded onto an iPod. iPods are small hand-held flash memory and hard drive-based media player devices, made by Apple Computer, that allow one to download and play music, video, and various other media content in the palm of the hand.
“I think soon you’ll see students walking around doing that last minute studying before class too,” said Duke.
Courses available currently at Calhoun for podcasting include, English, math, science, nursing, computer science, and history.
WebCT and Tegrity will be vital part of the distance learning classes. However, most professors are now including attendance incentives in regular classes to ensure students use this as an additional tool without substituting it for actually being in class.
“One of the big fears we’ve had is that they may think ‘Well, now I don’t have to be there,’” said Duke. “I still want them to be there.”
Tegrity allows professors to post videos of their actual classes and set that into sequence with Power Point slides and projections they use in classes. Students can access this anytime from anywhere with the Internet. The recorded classes can be downloaded to the student’s personal computer and the audio can be downloaded to any MP3 player. iPods can download these classes from the student’s computer and play audio or video.
“What we’re really trying to do is find as many ways as we can to reach students,” said Jimmy Duke, the distance education coordinator and a biology teacher for Calhoun Community College.
“In distance education we started with video tapes, then CD’s, then the internet, and now iPods and podcasting,” said Dr. Theresa Hamilton, Calhoun’s vice-president for Instruction and student services.
The portability of the iPod and the convenience of the Internet WebCT access is an updated change that has finally caught up to the changing face of the student demographic at Calhoun, said Hamilton.
She said the typical Calhoun student today is always on the go.
“We’re all about responding the student’s needs,” said Hamilton. “What I love is the portability of it.”
She said the average student at Calhoun is 30 years old, taking 25-plus hours of classes and has at least one child.
“This new instructional option is all about student access and success,” said Hamilton. “Podcasting is not designed to replace a class, but to enhance it. It’s just like having a tutor in your pocket. If a student misses a particular class or needs a review of course material, they have the flexibility to re-play all or any portion of the class as many times as is needed.”