In October 2011, the U.S. Department of Education awarded HCC’s Dale Mabry Campus a five-year, $4.3 million Title III (HSI) STEM Grant, the largest in the college’s history. As the second year of the grant project comes into full swing, participants are starting to feel the effects of the technology upgrades. To date, five classrooms have been equipped with iPad carts. Each cart contains thirty iPads for student use during class.
In addition to the iPads, the classrooms have also been furnished with SMART podiums. The SMART Podium interactive pen display allows the instructor to create an engaging presentation for course material. Outside the classroom, Supplemental Instruction (SI) is being integrated through the use of Blackboard Collaborate, an online based video-conferencing system that allows for greater engagement throughout the academic community. The grant was able to support this innovative approach to a student success established best practice. SI sessions are conducted by SI Leaders who facilitate group study sessions online; thus, engaging students in active learning. A main focus of SI is to create a consistent study schedule throughout the term.
The virtual study sessions center on current course material covered within the week and use of active learning and study skill strategies to master course content. Supplemental Instruction is currently being piloted in select math courses. Another area enhanced by the grant is the Tutoring Commons. Tutors are working with iPads to create optimal opportunities to learning course content.
One example is with the use of the app, EduCreations which allows student sessions to be recorded and accessed through a link. When tutor Christopher Walton was asked about his experience using the iPads, he noted, “thus far, student feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, with many students particularly appreciative of the fact that they can listen to their sessions during their daily commute.” Also available in the Tutoring Commons are SMART Boards. These boards are 80” touch-screen monitors that allows for more interactive tutoring sessions. These new advancements are just the tip of the iceberg. As the grant progresses, more technology will become available to students interested in STEM majors.
Article written by: Marquela E. Zepeda