Community College: Digital Innovation's Next Frontier

Community College: Digital Innovation's Next Frontier

Historically, community colleges haven’t always been first in line when it comes to investment or interest from the technology sector. But with community colleges now educating nearly half of the undergrads in the U.S., these campuses are poised to become hotbeds of digital innovation.

Indeed, community colleges are increasingly seeking out technologies that can address the varied needs of their students, which include balancing education with employment, dependent care and financial constraints. And they're attracting attention and investment from industry partners hoping to increase the pipeline of skilled workers in fields like engineering and logistics. Jill Biden called community colleges "America's best-kept secret," saying they're "uniquely positioned to provide the education and training that will prepare students for the jobs in the 21st century."

We spotlight a handful of forward-thinking programs around the country, sharing stories of student success as well as the tools and tech that support them. You’ll read about developments in game-based learning, a mobile app for student support services, and bite-sized developmental math courses—as well as the importance of using digital innovation to foster human connection. What’s more, we share 10 digital initiatives we’re keeping our eyes on, plus a visual snapshot of the first year college experience.

10 Initiatives to Watch

Digital innovations are popping up in both pilot programs and established offerings at community college campuses across the country. Here are a handful of examples of how schools are using digital tools to support students and bring real-world experiences into the classroom.

Salt Lake Community College SLCC requires students enrolled in general education courses to create electronic portfolios that contain important assignments and reflections, documentation of their goals and learning experiences. SLCC hosts an online environment where students post their resumes and faculty post letters of recommendation. Electronic Portfolios
Austin Community College In partnership with Civitas Learning, ACC has created an online Degree Map service that allows students to compare degree plans side by side, track degree requirements, assist with credit transfer options, and understand the time and cost involved with the possibility of switching majors. Degree Map
Rio Salado College The RSC RioPACE tool (for Progress and Course Engagement) evaluates a student’s engagement and interaction with an online course, such as how many times he or she will log into a course lesson and/or view an instructor’s feedback, and other course progress measures. Engagement
Fresno City College The Student Learning and Support Services Center at FCC features a comprehensive online service called FCCWise, where students can search for tutors by subject, locate peer-assisted study sessions being held online and face-to-face, and where prospective tutors can apply online and get into the system. Tutoring
Greenville Technical College The newly built 100-000 square-foot GTC Center for Manufacturing Innovation (CMI) in South Carolina provides access to the latest teaching and learning tools and services for advanced manufacturing careers. The Center features integrated project-based learning experiences on real-world projects. Technical Training
Wichita Area Technical College A model of teamwork between multiple outside entities to bring about dynamic change can be found at WATC, where a collaboration between government, private industry, and education resulted in building a $54 million National Center for Aviation Training (NCAT) that opened in 2010 and is managed by WATC. Aviation Training
Cuyahoga Community College Tri-C in Cleveland built a sophisticated, non-profit Corporate College in 2003 that features innovative continuing professional development programs offered in partnership with the local business community, including incumbent worker training, organizational effectiveness and leadership programs. Business PD
Walla Walla Community College WWCC in the state of Washington implemented the Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training Program (I-BEST) into its Early Childhood Education, Nursing and Watershed Technology degree programs. I-Best is designed for students to improve their English language or basic skills in classes that are team-taught by one content instructor and one basic skills instructor. I-BEST
Miami Dade College MDC “breathes life into learning” by providing its students with access to NBC Learn, a collection of videos, images and documents. NBC Learn features an online library of resources related to historic and current news and events, as well other digital assets that help faculty teach and engage students. Digital Resource Libraries
Hostos Community College HCC, located in the South Bronx, recently launched two technology-oriented initiatives benefitting students, faculty and staff. The Succeed@Hostos early warning system is a comprehensive platform that tracks all of the college’s numerous intervention and outreach services. Its mobile app, myHostos, gives students easy access to the areas of Hostos that matter most to them. Early Warning Systems; Mobile Apps

First Year Feedback

See full size image here. Image Credit: Macmillan Learning.

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