Award-Winning Programs at League Board and Alliance Institutions Exemplify Community College Innovation

From the League
Innovation Showcase

Congratulations to the 2020-2021 Innovation of the Year Award recipients from 32 participating League Board and Alliance member colleges. The League initiated the Innovation of the Year award over thirty-five years ago to recognize local community college projects and initiatives that reflect the spirit of innovation and experimentation on which our organization was founded. The competition provides an opportunity for colleges to showcase their innovative programs, practices, policies, partnerships, and resources; to celebrate the dedicated educators who are responsible for such exceptional work; and to promote a culture of innovation at their institutions.

Some of this year’s winning innovations are described below. Click here for a full list.

Northland Pioneer College - The Tech Hub Assistant Center

Tech Hubs are located at all nine Northland Pioneer College (NPC) locations. The hubs are well equipped with the latest technologies and provide a place for students to complete homework and assignments. Well-trained lab aides are available to assist students both in-person and virtually using specialized virtual conferencing software. Students can see and talk live with a lab aide from a Tech Hub to get the same assistance they would receive on campus. The Tech Hub has been popular with students and is an innovative solution to meet the challenges of supporting NPC students with technology use during a pandemic. Learn more here.

Southern Alberta Institute of Technology - Digitizing Project-Based Learning: Augmented Reality Using Microsoft HoloLens 2

By digitizing the project-based learning approach that apprenticeship training is known for, a faculty member brought apprenticeship training into the 21st century. Motivated by the challenges imposed by COVID-19 restrictions, he created 3D building models and toured students through these spaces virtually using Microsoft HoloLens 2. Students look through the faculty member’s eyes as he walks through the building and has them detail out code requirements. This innovator is instructing on attributes that cannot feasibly be duplicated on the physical campus. Synchronous online delivery of instruction using MS Teams and visual representation of various plumbing systems has greatly enhanced student understanding. Learn more here.

Tallahassee Community College - Expanding a Culture of Care Through Academic Success Coaching and Embedded Tutoring

Tallahassee Community College targeted student needs through a personalized Academic Success Coaching and Embedded Tutoring model utilizing strategic outreach services to all first-time enrolled students. Academic Coaches were hired and trained to identify needs based upon students’ academic pathways and enrollment in gateway courses. Weekly nudge campaigns included texts, calls, emails, and early alerts. Coaches partnered with faculty and tutors to offer 1:1 conferencing, test reviews, tips on study skills, and time management. Specialists worked to embed critical academic support into the virtual classroom and provide one-on-one and small group assistance. The resulting strategies led to an increase in student success among first-time-in-college students, including Black and Hispanic. Learn more here.

Wake Technical Community College - START Undergraduate Research and Internships

Wake Tech’s Mathematics, Sciences, and Engineering faculty and staff have kept STEM academic success and career dreams alive for students in this year of pandemic by pivoting to effective virtual formats. The STem Academic Research and Training (START) program uses faculty-mentored undergraduate research as a success and retention strategy—fostering a sense of belonging and academic confidence and providing career exploration and workforce skills—to support transfer and STEM career success. Partnering with the Wake Tech Foundation and its donors, START provided direct student stipend support, encouraging a diverse group of students to take a chance and participate in virtual research projects. Learn more here.