Although the pandemic initiated a mass migration to online classrooms, the model is definitely here to stay. The question now is how teachers can “fast forward” pedagogy and technology in this new virtual reality. A new program at Johnston Community College – where remote learning has been complementing the classroom experience since 1997 – is offering answers and solutions.
JCC’s Jaguar Office of Learning Technologies (JOLT) is actively collaborating with instructors from Johnston County Public Schools on how to create engaging online materials with emerging technology. The program provides direct access to state-of-the-art equipment to help teachers design and deliver quality online content.
The inaugural cohort is comprised of teachers from the Early College Academy (ECA) and the Career & Technical Leadership Academy (CTLA), both of which operate on the JCC campus. Starting in September, they have the further option to pursue a full certification course called BRITE (Basic Requirements for Instructional Technology Effectiveness).
“We want to lead the way in the delivery of high-quality online instruction for every student in our county,” explains Ms. Dawn Dixon, associate vice president of University Studies & Educational Technologies at JCC. “We have the expertise, we have the equipment and we have the dedicated space to make this happen. And this is the type of partnership that makes JCC’s middle name – community – very real and robust.”
Inside STUDIO T, which stands for Specialized Training Unit for the Development of Innovative Online Teaching, educators have ample opportunities to be learners. In addition to training and consultation with an instructional designer, they have dedicated spaces for video editing and audio recording equipment.
They also have access to JCC’s latest investment, Blackboard Collaborate, an embedded web-conferencing tool that transforms the online teaching environment with interactive features such as video chat discussions and instant live polls.
But the high-tech tool in highest demand seems to be the “Lightboard,” a clear glass structure on which instructors can write while still facing the screen. Although the Lightboard seems like space-age prop from a Sci-Fi film, the real-life version in STUDIO T was built by students from JCC’s Associate in Engineering Degree Program and Industrial Technologies Program.
Mr. Lance Gooden, chair of JCC’s Department of Mathematics and Engineering, says the students, along with the expert guidance of faculty, ended up creating the first ADA-compliant Lightboard in the world. Their experiential-learning project – with real-world impact – was made possible with funding from the JCC Foundation.
In the coming months, JOLT aims to turn STUDIO T into a one-stop instructional design shop for JCC faculty as well as a broader swath of Johnston County Public School teachers.