College takes leading role with innovations in online learning

Allen Community College continues to develop online courses.
Administrator shared their vision Tuesdaay with ACC's Board of Trustees.


Local News

February 13, 2020 - 9:59 AM

Sherry Phelan, dean of Online Academic Affairs for Allen Community College, presents during the Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday on the importance of instructional design in internet-based courses. Photo by Trevor Hoag / Iola Register

The fires of progress are burning hot on the administrative end at Allen Community College, especially when it comes to implementing innovations in online learning.

Connected with internet-based courses at ACC, Sherry Phelan, Dean of Online Academic Affairs — along with Rebecca Bilderback and Kattia Andrews — gave a presentation on the importance of instructional design.

This pertains to what course websites look like and how students interact with them, including making sites accessible to those with disabilities.

Phelan explained, for instance, how things like homepage aesthetics and highlighted links can make a website more user-friendly, and guide one to course content more easily.

As she explained, “instructional design is sometimes called an art because there’s a lot of the creative process that goes into building learning experiences for students.”

She also showcased examples of how good course design involves what scholars call “multimodality,” moving beyond just reading and writing in print alone, to building presentations, making digital objects, watching video and more.

Phelan showed as well how good course design involves moving beyond using only standardized testing measures like quizzes and tests, and emphasized how important it is to have students performing engaging — in Phelan’s words, “authentic” — real-world activities.

ACC TRUSTEES and administrators also met with students from places all over the globe such as South Africa, Brazil, Ghana and Botswana, highlighting the international character of the college.

During the endowment report, one item of interest was that $100,000 had been raised so far in donations and pledges in order to fund construction of the new activities center.

According to Student Senate President Lexy Turntine, during the ACC blood drive students gave 22 total units to help the community.

Vice President of Academic Affairs Jon Marshall discussed the 4-course leadership program ACC is developing, and explained how he’s working to form program partnerships at places like Washburn and Wichita State, home of the Kansas Leadership Center.

Marshall also pointed out that only 42% of soldiers in the armed services are currently utilizing their GI Bill education benefits, and only 21% of those utilizing benefits go on to earn a degree. 

ACC is therefore interested in helping to get those numbers up in Kansas.

Of interest as well, is that ACC is forming partnerships with Russell Stover and wants to offer student internships connected to highly-skilled positions there by fall semester.

Vice President for Student Affairs Cynthia Jacobson mentioned that ACC has found a partner to build their new website, Finalsite, which they hope to launch by July 1, 2020.

Dean for Academic Affairs Tosca Harris outlined several noteworthy accomplishments by ACC students. One she highlighted was that “Freshman Spencer Ames was accepted into the Kansas intercollegiate orchestra as second trombone,” an honor that required competing against students even at the senior level.

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