Note: This is a copy of a Friday letter sent to Oak Ridge City Council members by Roane State Community College President Chris Whaley.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Roane State Community College fully supports Oak Ridge Schools’ proposed technology initiatives, which include ensuring that all students—regardless of socioeconomic background—have devices that allow them to access education technology from school and home.
Why do we support this vision? Because there is no college readiness without technology readiness.
Consider, when a student walks through Roane State’s doors, they will:
- Have access to Internet resources anytime, anywhere: All Roane State campuses offer wireless Internet.
- Become immersed in mobile learning: Our library provides iPads for classroom instruction. We also have what we call Engaged Learning Environments, which break the mold of the traditional classroom. In the Engaged Learning Environment—one will be located in the new building at the Oak Ridge campus—students use devices to collaborate and to share their work on the room’s flat-screen monitors. The rooms do not have instructor stations, which by design means the faculty member moves among the students during class while they use their devices to review course material and work on projects.
- Share their work, listen to lectures, study material, and research topics with technology tools: Roane State’s IT staff fitted many classrooms with AirServer software, which allows students and faculty to stream their iPad to LCD projectors. Students can expect to share their work via AirServer or to listen to professors lecture while they enhance their presentations with multimedia content streamed through AirServer. In addition, faculty routinely record podcast lectures that students must review on iTunes U. Some courses use electronic textbooks, and many faculty incorporate digital resources into their course content. To conduct research, students must know how to search our library’s online databases.
- Learn real-world skills with technology: One of our paramedic instructors teaches future emergency responders the functions of the lung using an app. As he said: “With the app, I can show where the air goes instead of just relying on the text. You are putting those words into function, into a visual meaning behind the written word.” The director of our occupational therapy assistant program assigns students a project in which they identify apps that could be used to improve a patient’s motor skills, cognition, or visual perception. The student must identify the app and then discuss its strengths, weaknesses, and how it could be used for therapeutic benefits.
- Participate in online classes and turn in work online: Most classes, even traditional face-to-face classes, utilize our online Learning Management System, which we call Momentum. It would be fair to say that almost every Roane State student will, at some point, need to log in to Momentum, turn in assignments via its dropbox, and participate in online discussions.
- Work with sophisticated software: Whether it’s music editing, video editing, graphic design, or 3-D printing tools, students who attend Roane State will have opportunities to create and learn with sophisticated software.
There is no class at Roane State that technology does not touch. Students who come to us today without a familiarity with devices, without an understanding of how to work online, are behind. Imagine where we will be 10 years from now, or 20. A student without technology readiness will be lost.
To keep up, to be ready for college and for a career, students must be adept at technology from their earliest grade levels. Whether their families can afford technology should not be a barrier.
A great community thinks big. Oak Ridge Schools are thinking big, and Roane State urges support for Dr. Borchers’ vision to ensure the system remains on the cutting edge.
Christopher L. Whaley
Roane State Community College