By TIFFANY WILSON
Using government grants, the college is making the move to a community that is accessible anytime, anywhere. As of September, they are looking to deliver as many student services as possible in a virtual environment, starting with access to math and literacy tutoring.
Mike Dinning, vice-president of student affairs, said he is “jacked up” about the community and hopes that it will generate something contemporary in the eyes of the students. He also said he wants to make life easier for students who want to access learning services and personal assessments anytime, anywhere.
Michele Brannon-Hamilton, eLearning consultant for the Learning Commons and who has been hired to create the virtual community, said communities, whether virtual or face-to-face, are an important factor in creating an environment where students can interact confidently with the college and one another.
She also realized while working with students in person that there are a lot of students who could not get to the college, or the Learning Commons only offered one appointment per week, where the student wanted more. This motivated Brannon-Hamilton to get the construction of the community started.
“I want to create a place where students can connect with each other, our resources and our experts in an interactive way. We have a website where students can get information, but cannot contribute. So I want it to be engaging and interactive,” she said.
Dinning said he thinks students embrace the concept as they never turn their computers off. For example, students go from their computers to their iPhone to their iPads.
“Students want to do things when students want to do them,” he said.
As an example, he said some students from the nursing program wanted to get help with APA formatting and it took two weeks for them to get an appointment.
“We cannot be doing that,” he said. “We want to put it online and we want to put it now.”
Brannon-Hamilton said there will always be students who will need the face-to-face help and will not be interested in the virtual community, but then there will be students who will not do face-to-face and would be interested in the online access.
Miranda Kluka, a first-year personal service worker, never really thought about using the Learning Commons as a resource because she has never really needed that department’s services, but by making the community online and interactive she said it will increase the chances of her trying the community out.
“Anything that is online, I am more likely to use it,” she said.
From now until September, students are encouraged to provide input throughout the whole process, from design to trial implementation, said Brannon-Hamilton. They hope to have a production and promotion student and web production student to assist in building the brand for the community.
Brannon-Hamilton said the main idea behind the virtual community is to give students choices, adding they will not be replacing the great services that they have now. The college just wants to add to the college experience, she said.
“We think this is going to be a home run. This is our next big one,” said Dinning.