Cumberland Times-News

Local News

August 23, 2013

College broadens distance learning offerings

CUMBERLAND — Allegany College of Maryland is preparing to add courses that mix classroom and online instruction, thus broadening its distance learning offerings.

These “blended” courses, which combine traditional and digital modes of education delivery, offer the best of both worlds, according to Pam Deering, ACM’s director of instructional technologies and multimedia services.

In this hybrid format, students have the flexibility of studying and completing assignments online in addition to the benefits of practicing skills and applying knowledge in the face-to-face classroom.

While online learning continues to be effective — and ACM currently offers more than 100 online courses — blended-learning instruction is well-suited to certain subjects in a wide variety of disciplines, according to Deering.

In these classes, Deering said, blended instruction can serve to heighten student engagement while raising levels of critical thinking for increased student learning.

Underpinning the addition of blended courses are standards upheld by Quality Matters, a faculty-centered, peer-review process that certifies the quality of online education.

“It’s a step in the right direction for us, and it’s a step that focuses on quality,” said Deering, who noted that, depending on the subject, online learning in a blended course could range from 30 to 75 percent.

This summer, 18 faculty members attended two-day training in blended-learning course design that ACM called its “Blended Academy.” Topics ranged from technologies and development to implementation and evaluation of these hybrid courses.

The sessions were led by two leading proponents of the approach, Ivan Shibley Jr., an associate professor at Penn State University-Berks, and Timothy Wilson, an assistant professor at the University of Western Ontario. Wilson is recognized as a leader and innovator in pedagogy while Shibley is a presenter on blended learning at numerous professional events and is one of its leading advocates.

The ACM instructors who took the instruction have committed to developing courses that can be offered in the spring or fall semesters of 2014. Their subjects reflect the wide range of the college’s numerous career and transfer programs and include allied health, humanities, social sciences and technology-based curricula.

Kristi Smith, an associate professor in computer technology, is redesigning a course in advanced webpage development that previously had been offered entirely online.

The blended approach, she explained, will “provide students the opportunity to work through the technical issues in a lab setting while the lecture portion of the class would remain online.”

Tom Striplin, professor of respiratory therapy, is re-designing his program’s fourth-semester clinical practice course to include learning via audio and video using multiple technology platforms. “Adaptive education will allow students to learn at different levels and at a pace that best suits them within the same class utilizing technology-guided instruction,” he said. “At the end of the day, blending will provide more opportunity to interact with students to improve retention and application of knowledge and critical thinking skills.”

Next fall, the faculty-driven move to add blended courses to the ACM roster will enter a peer-mentoring phase in which the instructors who are now developing blended courses will assist the next faculty cohort to develop them.

When implemented in January, blended-learning will be of real benefit to students, Deering believes. “It gives them flexibility and helps them become independent learners, which better prepares them to be successful,” she said.

The move to add blended courses to the range of learning delivery modes at ACM has the full support of the college’s Instructional Affairs Office.

“Blended-learning has an underlying philosophy that allows technology to take care of repetitive tasks and allows faculty to take their students further in any given subject area,” said David Hinds, vice president for instructional affairs.

“Technology can help us deliver drills, lectures and exams at a distance,” he said. “And when faculty members meet with students face-to-face, they are able to create a higher quality learning experience, allowing more freedom to create deeper connections and learning in more personalized ways.”

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Overturned tanker upsets Oakland Overturned tanker upsets Oakland

    OAKLAND — Two large commercial wreckers were being used at mid-afternoon Wednesday to upright a tanker full of liquid propane that overturned several hours earlier in downtown Oakland and forced evacuation of the business district.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Park Service opens Canal Classrooms Park Service opens Canal Classrooms

    CUMBERLAND – The National Park Service held a ribbon-cutting event Wednesday for a new program called Canal Classrooms, which will offer students pre-K through fifth grade accredited classwork on the Canal Place grounds.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • CODY EVERSOLE Eversole named 2014 Kelley Award winner

    KEYSER, W.Va. — Keyser High School senior Cody Eversole was named this year’s J. Edward Kelley Award winner during a ceremony Wednesday morning at Potomac State College.
    The award is presented to an outstanding male student-athlete in each year’s senior class.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • South Cumberland home rebuilt after fire South Cumberland home rebuilt after fire

    CUMBERLAND — A South Cumberland home destroyed by fire last July was given a second chance recently after the owner decided he wanted to remain a part of the neighborhood and had his house rebuilt.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • School vaccination requirements change

    April 17, 2014

  • Mineral BOE gives $18K to library

    KEYSER, W.Va. — The Mineral County Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday to give the Keyser-Mineral County Public Library $18,000 for fiscal 2015 and to give the Piedmont library an additional $1,000 out of carryover funds.

    April 16, 2014

  • The Eichhorn family Local family says hosting New York City children in summer is ‘wonderful experience’

    CUMBERLAND — Sonya and Christopher Morgan of Cumberland always planned on a hosting a child through The Fresh Air Fund Volunteer Host Family Program. “Christopher always said once we had kids of our own we were going to do it. When our son turned 6 we said, ‘OK, let’s do it,’” said Sonya.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • City, county officials to talk baseball at work session

    CUMBERLAND — During today’s Allegany County Commission work session, a proposal to study the possibility of bringing a professional-level baseball team to the area will be vetted again, this time with participants from the city of Cumberland.

    April 16, 2014

  • Report: High-quality child care lacking in West Virginia

    CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Child care programs of minimum or unrated quality are watching over about 93 percent of West Virginia children enrolled in them, a report released Wednesday said.

    April 16, 2014

  • JIM HINEBAUGH Hinebaugh seeks Garrett County commissioner post

    Jim Hinebaugh recently announced his candidacy for Garrett County commissioner. A Garrett County native and lifelong Republican, Hinebaugh graduated from Southern High School and attended Frostburg State University before entering the U.S. Army via the draft. After serving as an enlisted member, Hinebaugh completed Officer Candidate School and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. He retired as a colonel/06 in 1995 with almost 29 years of service including eight years overseas.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

Facebook
Must Read
News related video