The learning process for today’s technically savvy college student is far different than even a generation ago, according to Dr. Douglas Hersh, Santa Barbara City College Dean of Educational Programs. “To effectively reach today’s student who lives in a world of ubiquitous technology, faculty will want to add a few new tools to their belts. Human presence tools help students and faculty interact, even when they are miles and time zones apart.”
To address this issue, the SBCC Faculty Resource Center hosted two week-long Human Presence workshops in June 2010 and January 2011. The hands-on workshops trained faculty and staff in the newest technology resources available for online, hybrid and Web-enhanced campus-based classes.
SBCC’s Human Presence Learning Environment utilizes a customized Moodle interface that allows for live and time-shifted personal interaction via the computer. At the workshops, the participants learned and practiced such technology tools as Skype (for synchronous face-to-face communication), Twitter (for just-in-time messages), Wimba Voice Tools (for asynchronous communication, i.e. recorded lectures or discussion threads), Elluminate/CCC Confer (for desktop collaboration), Jing (for creating screen demonstrations with voice-over), and FlipCam (for creating video presentations).
At the end of the five days, each participant gave a five-minute presentation demonstrating how they will use one of the new tools. “I was impressed with the energy and creativity that each person brought to the process,” Dean Hersh said. “Everyone can build on what they learned and use these new tools to enhance student learning.”
Currently, Dr. Matthew Mooney, Assistant Professor of American History, produces short video clips for his classes explaining each section of his syllabus. He also posts brief mini-lectures that introduce the weekly topics and guiding questions. Dr. Mooney’s students report that the video clips, in conjunction with the assigned reading, helps them grasp key concepts more quickly.
Dr. Dixie Budke, Associate Professor of the School of Culinary Arts, holds regular face-to-face meetings with her students through Skype. Embedded into the Human Presence Learning Environment, Skype allows students and instructors to communicate with each other as if they were in the same room.
Adjunct Instructor Ray Bowman uses Elluminate to hold live online class sessions. He records and posts the sessions for his students to view on-demand. He also uses this tool in his classroom to host guest speakers from remote locations.
The first two SBCC Human Presence workshops, which drew more than 60 participants from over 30 academic and administrative departments, were so well-received that follow-up sessions are scheduled for March and June.
“SBCC has built its reputation as a premier community college because of our outstanding faculty and staff and the success of our students. Our great innovative spirit and constant pursuit of excellence are hallmarks of SBCC,” said SBCC Superintendent/President Dr. Andreea Serban. “Under the direction of Dr. Hersh and the Faculty Resource Center, these workshops are helping our faculty keep pace with the latest technology and increase our student learning and retention, which ultimately leads to student success.”