Learning Environments

April 2024
The global response to generative AI (GenAI) has been varied and dynamic. There is rapid adoption in some sectors, cautious exploration in others, and a growing push for regulation. Businesses and educational institutions worldwide are leveraging GenAI to innovate and enhance productivity, from automating routine tasks to generating new content and insights. However, this enthusiasm is tempered by concerns over privacy, security, intellectual property, and the ethical implications of AI-generated content. Governments and regulatory bodies are beginning to respond, with the goal of...
March 2024
Critical thinking and clinical judgement of the nursing student is essential to the preparation of a competent novice nurse. Opportunities for students to practice making high-stakes decisions independently can be limited in the live clinical setting, for obvious safety reasons. Variations among local clinical placements may further limit the ability for entire cohorts to experience equitable patient cases. In addition, multiple nursing schools are competing for a limited number of clinical sites, straining programs’ abilities to meet clinical contact hour requirements. High-quality...
February 2024
Embracing neurodiversity in educational environments entails challenging traditional perspectives on cognitive differences. The term neurodiversity acknowledges the inherent variation in neurological functioning, emphasizing that diverse cognitive profiles contribute to the richness of the human experience. It encompasses conditions such as autism spectrum disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, dyspraxia/developmental coordination disorder, Tourette syndrome, sensory processing disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and social pragmatic communication disorder,...
December 2023
Mesa Community College (MCC) introduced the new Associate in Arts, Emphasis in Anthropology, in fall 2023. This is the fourth Z Degree offered by the college that is entirely online and uses open educational resources (OER), saving students time and money. Chief Online Education Officer Laura Ballard said anthropology was selected for Z Degree learning because, The department was already offering zero-textbook-cost courses, incorporating openly licensed content, library materials, and instructor-developed content. This allowed us to focus on design and copyright when building out the degree...
October 2023
Kirkwood Community College kicked off a new Aviation Maintenance Technology (AMT) Associate of Applied Sciences (AAS) program this fall. Since its announcement, this innovative offering has garnered a lot of excitement from students as well as community and business leaders. The start of the program, which is expected to pay big dividends not only for students and the college’s seven-county service area, but also for the regional aviation industry, was a historic moment for Kirkwood. Soon after Kirkwood President Dr. Lori Sundberg began her tenure in late 2018, Eastern Iowa Airport (CID)...
October 2023
In spring 2020, a dozen Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) students gathered as a crew to virtually discuss topics for a new podcast series project. The project was the brainchild of Beth Baunoch, Associate Professor of Media Studies, who wanted to give her students a broader platform to create new media and learn new skills in the process. To make that happen, she applied for and received a $40,000 Mellon/ACLS Community College Faculty Fellowship stipend. Choosing one topic to investigate for the podcast series was challenging, but Baunoch wanted her students to come up with a...
August 2023
There’s an old saying: What a difference a day makes. But what could a forward-looking institution do with 730 of them that could make a unique, positive difference in their students’ classroom experiences? That was the challenge faced by the leadership team at Johnson County Community College (JCCC) in 2020. In a meeting with newly hired President Andy Bowne, the team discussed the college’s next steps on a key initiative started by the previous president: demonstrating the college’s commitment to undergraduate research and STEM preparation for its students. JCCC’s highly credentialed...
May 2023
It is no secret that opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to participate in research and innovation are more prominent in university settings than in community colleges in the United States (Arnaud, 2019; Wladis & Mesa, n.d.; Wladis & Mesa, 2019). On a recent study abroad visit to three community colleges, or technical schools as they are called in Denmark, the author discovered that there had been focused research and innovation departments in these institutions for many years. She realized then that the U.S. had some catching up to do. Inspiration A few years ago, a team...
May 2023
As apprenticeships gain momentum in higher education across the U.S., students are finding that these opportunities are the perfect springboard into a career they love while businesses are receiving qualified employees who can make a quick transition into their workforce after graduation. And community colleges are the vehicles that bring everyone together, making apprenticeships a win-win-win for everyone involved. Moraine Valley Community College offers students in its Automotive Technology Program an apprenticeship opportunity through a unique partnership with Nissan North America, Inc. In...
April 2023
Virtual student exchange programs have been implemented by higher education institutions across the globe. The Stevens Initiative (2021) found that 214 colleges and universities offered 3,073 virtual exchange programs from fall 2020 to summer 2021 and that 62 of the responding institutions had more than five years of experience with virtual exchanges. These programs, which offer platforms for students to communicate, collaborate, cooperate, and achieve their learning objectives by building learner communities, have been coined by scholars as Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL...
June 2022
Mesa Community College (MCC) and the Family Involvement Center (FIC) are collaborating to offer the Parent Peer Support Social Work Scholarship Stipend Program, an innovative program bolstering support for families overcoming past adversity and crisis while building careers in the profession of social work. Specifically, FIC and the MCC Social Work programs are piloting an education, training, and career pathway for parents with opioid/substance use disorder (OUD/SUD) and lived experience having a child involved with the Department of Child Safety (DCS). The social work stipend program was...
April 2022
Mesa Community College (MCC) launched its second Z Degree program, an Associate in Arts with an emphasis in communication, beginning in the spring 2022 semester. The college’s first Z Degree, an Arizona General Education Curriculum certificate and general associate’s degree, was introduced in 2019. A Z Degree is offered completely online with zero textbook costs, saving students time and money. “The Z Degree offers students greater flexibility, enabling them to take classes that fit their schedule. We built this program for the students who want flexibility, less distraction, and less cost...
January 2022
Students are drawn to the arts through their desire to create, perform, express, and interact with other people. In March 2020, the give and take, central to creating art, was gone. The COVID-19 pandemic forced many students in the visual and performing arts to create in boxes on computer screens with spotty picture resolutions and sound distortions, depending on Internet speed, the weather, devices, and countless other factors. Kirkwood Community College, like numerous other institutions, scrambled to figure out how to get art materials, microphones, speakers, and Internet access to students...
November 2021
In the December 2020 issue of Innovation Showcase, Diane Janes and Lorraine Carter (2020a) described educational institutions’ pivot to “remote operations, quarantine, and technology-enabled strategies for working and learning” in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic (para. 1). In particular, the article described how Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) ensured the techno-resiliency of instructors. In response to the shift to fully online teaching and learning, the Centre for Academic Development and Innovation (CADI) created several initiatives, including the Teaching Online at...
November 2021
This summer, dozens of middle school students in Pittsburgh, including those from underserved communities, discovered that science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) is fun, that it’s ok to be smart, and that education can offer a path to a brighter future. Through a partnership with Verizon and the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship, the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) hosted the Verizon Innovation Learning STEM enrichment program. The initiative is part of Citizen Verizon, the company’s responsible business plan for economic, environmental, and...
August 2021
Ground broke on Dallas College’s state-of-the-art Construction Sciences Building in 2019, and the need for the new training facility could not be more urgent. Before the design for the new building began, the National Center for Construction Education and Research (2019) had already predicted a shortage of one million craft professionals in the construction industry by 2023. In Dallas, the shortage is critical. From August 2018 to August 2019 alone, the Dallas-Plano-Irving area added 12,400 construction jobs and labor shortages have become a major contributor to rapidly rising new home costs...
July 2021
For decades, Jackson College (JC) has been a U.S. leader in providing higher education access and opportunity to incarcerated students. The town of Jackson, Michigan, has long been known as a “prison city,” and three large correctional facilities are located less than 15 miles from JC’s Central Campus. In 1967, the college offered its first class “inside the walls.” In 1969-1970, a pilot prison education program for the Southern Michigan Prison was launched to provide qualifying inmates an opportunity to further their education. Jackson Community College (as it was then called) was one of 26...
May 2021
The Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) Office of Online Learning developed a Boot Camp for hybrid course design meant to help faculty with little to no experience in an online setting to rapidly design hybrid courses. KCTCS Online shared an open access version of this training for use at other institutions for the first time at the department’s “Free PD: Come for the Free, Stay for the Why” session at the 2021 Innovations Conference. The COVID-19 pandemic pushed many faculty members into a new teaching reality. Designed to help faculty quickly acclimate to online and...
January 2021
Rio Salado College is one of 67 postsecondary institutions to be included in an expansion of the U.S. Department of Education’s Second Chance Pell Experimental Sites Initiative. One-hundred and thirty colleges in 42 states and the District of Columbia will now be involved in this initiative, which provides need-based Pell grants for people incarcerated in state and federal prisons to pursue higher learning. The majority of incarcerated individuals are Pell-eligible, but they have been banned from applying for assistance since 1994 as a result of the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law...
November 2020
Sacramento City College student and entrepreneur Christian Espinoza’s personal essay was published in Makerspace Impact: Implementation Strategies & Stores of Transformation: “At the time, it was all I ever wanted—to create things that were unbelievable and out of this world,” wrote Espinoza, who exemplifies thousands of students whose lives have been transformed by the CCC Maker initiative. He continued, But as I grew up, those dreams felt more and more unachievable. I thought I could only work a standard job with a fixed pay and maybe benefits, which didn’t sound half bad. I assumed...

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