Hudson, NC, United States
The use of a digital platform like Blackboard Open LMS at Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute (CCC&TI) has allowed education programs to be complemented and expanded beyond daily classroom sessions, and this has also increased the college’s impact on the community it is part of.
The programs at this college serving Caldwell and Watauga counties in North Carolina, in the United States, include daytime and evening face-to-face courses as well as online courses and a number of hybrid ones that use both environments to complement their teaching activities.
A significant percentage of its students are adults, for whom distance learning and evening courses are a great help because they allow them to keep their day jobs. “E-learning helps students who work full-time or have other commitments but who are trying at the same time to further their education. They have access to courses that offer them flexibility when it comes to choosing when and where to learn and work on their studies”, says Kristin Harrison, the college’s Distance Learning Director.
The teacher’s ally
Caldwell offers hundreds courses, including technical programs, degree programs, college transfer, and adult education. In each of these scenarios it is the directors and department chairs who decide which courses should be face-to-face, which ones can be online and which can be hybrid. However, Harrison acknowledges that the platform is being used by faculty even on purely face-to-face courses, because of the numerous advantages it offers. They use it for communicating quickly and effectively with students, for publishing and disseminating grades, and also as an extra learning aid.
As far as courses where Blackboard Open LMS is used are concerned, the Distance Learning Department has received highly positive feedback from faculty, who point to such things as the advanced forums, and the possibility of creating and editing quizzes and accessing all the tools they need from the main page. In addition to all this, the technical assistance they receive for answering their queries and meeting their needs is excellent. “They are devoted to providing the customer with good service, and when problems arise with the courses and help is required from Blackboard Open LMS technicians, their response time is usually 24 hours or less”, adds Harrison.
The Distance Learning Director is always on the lookout for new developments and technologies that will support the use of e-learning in the college’s classes. Currently, for example, she is concentrating her efforts on developing a new instructor training course that will provide Blackboard Open LMS training from the digital environment, which shows that online learning has become a cornerstone of education activities at CCC&TI.
* Kristin Harrison, Distance Learning Director, Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute.