Technology to enhance classrooms – Campus buys new programs to assist in classrooms and online

SPSCC’s technology department plans to purchase Apple TV technology with the classroom equipment budget for every classroom by fall quarter.

The Apple TV technology allows instructors to wirelessly connect with TV’s in the classrooms from an iPad.

SPSCC recently purchased 30 iPads for faculty rental with the college’s eLearning budget.

According to eLearning Support Manager Rick McKinnon, every face-to-face class should utilize online tools as part of the classroom.

McKinnon said he doesn’t like to use the term “eLearning” to describe technology used by faculty and students because it divides students attending SPSCC.

“The terminology ‘eLearning’ differentiates the population that’s sort of using online tools by the mode of delivery,” said McKinnon.

“Technology is being used now in so many ways that it doesn’t make sense to have that distinction anymore,” said McKinnon, “It’s all just learning.”

Negotiations for the college’s new Learning Management System (LMS) finalize in the next few weeks. An LMS is used for eLearning programs, online courses, and other classroom content.

“I think that the benefit is less paper and ease of organization,” said writing and humanities professor Jennifer Berney who uses Angel to supplement face-to-face classes.

The State Board for Community and Technical Colleges plans to replace the current LMS, Angel, with Canvas.

“It’s just annoying,” said student GG Haiter about the problems she’s had loading documents and using Angel.

According to student Yagaria Sterioti her online class through Angel needed better visuals.

“When I was listening to a lecture, there was a video, but the instructor wasn’t on the screen, it was just the blank board,” said Sterioti.

The college now pays for the system per user. Students are charged different fees for how much they use it in their courses.

The college has to keep track of which students use Angel, even in face-to-face classes, said McKinnon.

Angel requires the college to charge students four dollars per face-to-face course.

According to McKinnon, if Canvas were to be deemed a “core technology” at SPSCC, the college would not contract the LMS in the same way.

According to McKinnon, the wireless service on campus needs an upgrade, and this should be a special priority if the new LMS were to become a core technology. Student fees could potentially help fund this upgrade, said McKinnon.

“They’re not robust enough,” said McKinnon. The wireless system supports online learning and it needs to be able to handle more, he said.

McKinnon also said library staff are currently developing a digital literacy course. This course will teach students the skills they need to best utilize learning technology before they get into class, he said.

David Knoblach, geology professor, uses his own webpage, Angel, and many Apple apps as tools for his classes.

“The cost and the convenience factors are just amazing compared to what you could do just a decade or more ago,” said Knoblach about apps on iPads.

“Students are very interested, it grabs their attention,” said Knoblach. “It demonstrates things far more effectively.”

According to Knoblach, more and more higher education institutions are participating in online learning.

“Schools are going to be competing with schools — especially with the Internet — not only from the neighborhood, but perhaps from around the country and around the world,” said Knoblach, “And that could really change our future.”

Knoblach volunteered to begin using Canvas fall quarter to supplement his classes.

“Although we were way behind five years ago, we’re now pretty much getting ahead of the curve of a lot of schools,” said Knoblach.

Knoblach said there is some negative impact to integrating technology into every part of our lives.

“As good as this is, it’s removing people more from some of the outside world,” said Knoblach, “We have to keep people in touch with how the world works.”

“I think that the benefit is less paper and ease of organization,” said writing and humanities professor Jennifer Berney who uses Angel to supplement face to face classes.