Distance Learning’s new deal: Online courses roll out revamp

By: Daniel Montano, Staff Reporter

Starting in the fall 2014 semester, students taking online classes can expect to see some changes to the familiar distance learning website, Blackboard, said Audrey Gramstad, Administrative Director of distance learning.

The new Blackboard will include two new software packages and a standardized distance learning classroom intended to allow students to focus on learning course material rather than on how to navigate through it, she said.

“A lot of students have called me about distance learning, having an issue with the fact that every course looks different. If you take five online courses, all five of them look and navigate differently, so my staff and I came up with something called the distance learning classroom,” she said.

The new DL classroom, which is being tested this semester in two online courses that are part of a pilot program, will look very similar to the current Blackboard site but will be designed to be more user friendly, she said.

The DL classroom will have a taskbar on the left hand side that will include direct links to assignments, discussions, technical help and a ‘start here’ portion that will include syllabus, course and instructor information, said Gramstad.

“That helps simplify the navigation so that instead of hunting for ‘How do I contact my instructor?’ or ‘Where do I get tech support?’ It’s always in the same place for every course,” she said.

The new software packages will expand on the current Blackboard login page by including different channels and modules, much like myCNM, which is a profile-based platform that is personalized to the individual user, she said.

Blackboard will also include new file sharing capabilities which, in conjunction with Blackboard’s current instant messaging system, students can use for study and discussion groups, or accessing library, counseling and other student services, she said.

“We’re trying to get all services online so that distance learning students have same access as face-to-face students. If a student asked for a button where they could access health services or veteran’s services, we would add it,” Gramstad said.

The new software will allow instructors to share information common from one course to another, she said.

“So instead of each faculty person creating their own little discussion board or their own little tutorial, they can put it in a repository from which they can share it with any other faculty members that would use that same kind of material,” Gramstad said.

Brahm Woody, Liberal Arts major and instructional technician for SAGE, is currently taking an online class and said he hopes the new Blackboard will be more stable.

“We had someone taking finals last fall and Blackboard crapped out. I contacted the Blackboard supervisor at the SRC and I was told it was a vendor issue. So there was nothing we could do on our end,” Woody said.

Gramstad said that most of the problems associated with Blackboard’s stability have to do with issues unrelated to Blackboard errors, but that the new content sharing ability will help to clear clutter from Blackboard, which should contribute to a more smoothly running site.

Margaret Segura, Business Administration major, has taken three classes online and said that she hopes CNM makes communication with online instructors easier and that she is happy more resources will be available through Blackboard.

“I work with disability resources and I have had a lot of issues, so if everything is put into one place there will be less confusion and more success.” Segura said.

Alyssa Monet- Winters, Diagnostic Medical Stenography major, has taken six courses online and said she hopes that the new Blackboard will be more reliable and she hopes contacting instructors will be easier.

“Being able to contact your instructors better would be nice, because email doesn’t get through to the teachers and you end up being unable to talk to them,” Monet- Winters said.

Although the basic changes have already been chosen, the new Blackboard is only in its beginning stages and things might be added or changed depending on the feedback the distance learning staff receives from students and faculty, Gramstad said.

Upcoming changes: Blackboard courses

  • All online classes will have the same format.
  • The toolbar on left hand side will have direct links to all important course information.
  • All courses will now have a quick and easy “Start here” module.
  • The blackboard calendar will have all assignments and due dates for all online classes being in assignments.
  • Student support will be located in the bottom left-hand side of courses.
  • Allows faculty to focus on content of courses instead of building from scratch

A behind-the-scenes look at the changes in the Nursing Program

By: Jamison Wagner, Staff Reporter

Editor’s Note: This story is a follow up clarification to the article in Volume 19 Issue 1, “Nursing program drops vital courses.” 

CNM is partnering with UNM and NMSU in rolling out the new curriculum for the Nursing program the spring semester, 2014 said Diane Evans-Prior, Nursing Program Director.

The new program is state-wide; there are fifteen other public schools in New Mexico rolling out this new curriculum, and CNM is the first to do so at the community college level, she said.

The changes have been in the works since 2009 and are ready to be implemented, she said.

“The college has to adapt to changing trends in education, to what our community partners are looking for in an entry-level Nursing practitioner,” she said.

Nursing has changed from what it was ten years ago or even five years ago and the curriculum has to adapt and evolve to reflect those changes in Nursing itself, she said.

“The major change is not that we are eliminating requirements or lowering standards, but we are increasing accessibility to the program itself,” she said.

The current curriculum requires a lengthy number of required classes and the classes did not get removed, but are now integrated into the program itself to be done in later terms, she said.

“Students would drop classes and retake them, one, two, three times because their grade is not good enough. What is this doing for progression? By the time students finally start the program, the minimum number of semesters is eight. The reality? Twelve to fifteen. Students should be getting a master’s degree at the end of that, not an associate degree,” she said.

This is not unique to CNM and the model for the program is echoed throughout the country, she said. The new curriculum is intended to make the Nursing program a lot more accessible, she said. Students can now finish the requirements in two semesters, or one, but that is more difficult, she said.

The basic proficiencies have not changed, nor has the required percentage for the HESI exam, she said. If anything, standards have increased a bit since the GPA requirement was raised from 2.5 to 2.75, she said.

Now if the students have enough credits and have met the other requirements, they can register for the new classes, she said. As a result, it will be more like the other programs CNM offers, she said.

Students can now start the basic core courses and take Anatomy & Physiology II and Developmental Psychology concurrently with their Nursing classes, she said.

The core courses in the Nursing program historically have not been enough to make full-time so our students have had difficulty meeting their financial aid requirements, she said.

“The really exciting thing is that we are fully partnered with UNM and NMSU now so all of our classes that are applicable to a Bachelor’s of Nursing will transfer completely,” she said. That is a total of 96 credit hours that CNM offers that will transfer for a B.S.N. that requires about 120 credit hours, she said.

“Students can get those credits at CNM and may enroll at UNM, which means students will be able to graduate with both an associate and a bachelor’s,” she said.

“We will offer this with the first group in 2014, but there are a few fine details to finish,” she said.

Students petition to keep cadaver practice

By: Jamison Wagner, Staff Reporter

Health major students are currently petitioning to keep the practice of cadavers from being dropped by spring of 2014, said Dr. Anne Michels, full-time Biology instructor.

The instructors were informed in February of this year that the school will be discontinuing practice on human cadavers, she said.

The classes that will be affected are Anatomy and Physiology I and II along with their labs; these classes are taken by Nursing majors as well as many other healthcare majors, she said.

Students will be looking at plastic models and computer images instead, which will be less realistic compared to an actual human body, she said.

“I know that a lot of the students and quite a few instructors would like to keep the cadaver practice going. But, neither group was really given a say in this decision even though it affects us,” she said.

The administration has not given the instructors much information as to why this is being cut, she said.

“Apparently the cost is why the administration is cutting the practice, but this is not by any means one of the most expensive Biology labs, not even close,” she said.

From where the instructors stand, the administration did not look at any other options, she said.

“It seems to me that somebody just picked it, said it was expensive and did not even show that it is expensive,” she said.

While the cadaver program is a significant expense, it is not the most expensive, so this seems arbitrary to the instructors, she said.

The students have written a petition requesting that the cadaver practice be continued and so far in 11 days they have collected almost 700 signatures, she said.

A similar event happened at UNM a few years ago; many students signed a petition to keep cadavers in the undergraduate anatomy labs but the cadavers were eliminated anyways, she said. CNM is now the only college in the Albuquerque area where undergraduates are able to study cadavers, she said.

The Chronicle did attempt to reach out to the administration but they were not available for comment at the time of this article being published.

If students not currently involved in the petition effort want to help fight this, they should e-mail President Winograd, Vice President Gunthorpe, Dean Calabro and Associate Dean Martin, Michel said.

President Winograd: winograd@cnm.edu

Vice-President Sydney Gunthorpe: sydney@cnm.edu

Dean Richard Calabro: rcalabro@ cnm.edu

Associate Dean Linda Martin: lmartin@cnm.edu

“We the students are requesting cadavers remain an instructional tool at CNM.

This very valuable tool is a rare experience that allows students to visualize anatomical parts of a real human. Models and two-dimensional images cannot compare to being able to see and touch organs that a human cadaver provides. In addition, many of the cadavers provide the opportunity to see disease and the attempts to treat disease. We are thankful for your consideration in this matter.”

1500 say “No to GMO”

By Rene Thompson|Editor-in-Chief

Capture 2 Capture

The Albuquerque March Against Monsanto had a great turnout, with more than 1500 people attending, said event coordinator Chris Perkins.

Organizers confirmed that two million people marched in 50 countries worldwide to protest the Monsanto Corporation and the use of genetically modified foods. The Saturday May 25 march began at UNM campus and ended at Civic Plaza downtown.

Benjamin Hansen, Culinary Arts major, said the reason he was marching against Monsanto is because Monsanto puts their profits and wealth above the common good, above people and the right to information for sustainable life.

“GMOs are untested and unknown and I think people have the right to know whether they’re eating them or not. Also, there have been quite a few correlations in the die off of bees we’ve been having because of the pesticide chemicals produced by Monsanto,” he said.

When asked about the SB 18 bill that was shut down by 23 senate votes in January that would have brought the labeling of GM foods to New Mexico, Hansen said he thinks it is unfortunate that our elected state representatives do not think that their constituents have a right to know what they are eating.

“What Monsanto is doing is trademarking life when they are able to pass a patent on their seeds into law, and they’re making it so they’re not liable for damages that their products might be causing, and for me it is very blatant that they know what side effects are occurring with their products, which they have passed into law so they are not held accountable for later on,” he said.

Organizers that rallied the march had food truck vendors from TFK Smokehouse and Conchita’s Creations, as well as organic fruits and starter plants, guest speakers, music, a raffle and an arts and crafts contest for children.

“The organizers had shuttles taking people to and from the original site to the final event at Civic Plaza, which made it much easier for people to get back to their cars after the march,” said member of Food and Water Watch, Eleanor Bravo.

Kaitlin Delozier, Liberal Arts major, said she went to the march in support of food grown naturally, not genetically modified.

“Everything tastes so much better and is better for you when foods are naturally grown and not full of additives and preservatives, which really are not good for anyone,” she said.

Laws passed for Monsanto have changed the way farmers use seeds, she said.

Farmers cannot reuse seeds grown from their own crops and must buy new seeds every season, she said.

“It puts plenty of farmers in a bad position, and I’m sure there are farmers that don’t want to grow these crops; they want to grow good and nutritious foods to feed people, but unfortunately they’re stuck with using Monsanto because of the corporate seed monopoly,” she said.

Delozier said she was glad to see such a big turnout and support for this cause, and she hopes that things will change in the future and food will be sustainable without being genetically modified.

For more information on GM foods or to volunteer go to march-against-monsanto.com.

“May the Schwartz be with you”

By: Shaya Rogers, Managing Editor

Inhabitants of Burque host film festival

Summertime is all about enjoying the outdoors and the Film and Food Festival created by Inhabitants of Burque wants to give Burquenos the chance to do just that, said creator and operator Leo York.

On Sunday, June 2 at Bataan Park from 3 to 10 p.m., members of the community can enjoy a free showing of the ‘80s cult classic film “Spaceballs,” he said.

“It is an event to give families and individuals a chance to enjoy a day in the park with movies, acro yoga, and any other activities people would like to do in the park,” York said.

The event was created to give people more options for things to do in the summer and anyone is welcome, he said.

“I want to make this a community event where people can enjoy a beautiful park, the outdoors, community bonding and time with their friends and loved ones,” he said.

A friend of York’s runs the Boiler Monkey food truck and came to him with the idea, he said.

“I agreed and I do the permits, sound, film, event organizing and promoting of the event,” he said.

The Supper food truck has also helped with organizing, he said, and the two food trucks will be there on the day of the event to sell food, he said.

The event creates an opportunity for members of the Albuquerque community to get to know one another, while enjoying spending the day outside, he said.

Although the movie starts at 5, attendees are encouraged to come around 3 if they want to participate in activities like yoga, hula hooping, juggling or anything else they may be interested in and to bring things to share, he said.

York plans on continuing the event throughout the summer as long as he can before the weather turns cold, he said.

“I hope to bring the community together and to make an awesome event for everyone to enjoy on the weekend,” he said.

Any businesses interested in sponsoring or getting involved with the event are encouraged to contact Inhabitants of Burque, he said.

“We are also taking sponsorships for businesses that would like to be involved and would like to promote their business to a large and diverse group of people from the city,” he said.

For more details visit facebook.com/ InhabitantsofBurque.

Film and Food Festival

When: Sunday, June 2 3 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Where: West of Carlisle on Lomas Bataan Park, ABQ

Film Showing: Spaceballs


Student comedian: From the mic to the keyboard

By: Adriana Avila, Senior Reporter

Ever heard the one about the web designing stand-up comedian? Curt Fletcher, Digital Media major, said he plans to blend his degree with comedy to bring character to the laughing craft.

Fletcher has been performing stand-up comedy for 10 years and said he plans to use what he has learned to help promote comedians through web design.

“Since there’s a lot of video editing involved and Photoshop and InDesign, I’m going to help comedians build websites for themselves to make a little bit of extra money while I’m traveling, because comedians don’t have websites promoting themselves,” he said.

Fletcher recently filmed a live performance at The Box Performance Space and plans to make and edit videos to accompany his jokes for his upcoming DVD, he said.

Once finished, Fletcher hopes to distribute the DVD performances at the Hastings stores in Albuquerque and sell them online, he said.

Fletcher said he attended CNM for a year, back when it was known as TVI, before deciding to pursue stand-up. He recently decided to return to earn his degrees.

“I moved back here a couple of years ago. I wanted to get to get an associate degree in Digital Media and go to UNM for journalism because comedy doesn’t pay that well sometimes,” he said.

Cracking jokes since 1984, Fletcher said he found his funny bone when he used to sneak out past his bedtime to watch late-night comedy on television.

“I would always see my mom watching stand-up comedy on TV and just watching her laugh, just watching one person stand there with a microphone making a bunch of people laugh was pretty cool,” he said.

As an adult, , Fletcher is now travels as a stand-up comedian and said he enjoys performing for younger crowds.

“I did a show for the Lobo football team a few years ago right before their ball game. That was pretty awesome. They were a really really good audience,” he said.

Fletcher also caters to the seasoned who have long since crippled their funny bones.

“The last time I performed was in Arizona in a casino for old people. It’s hard to make old people laugh. They always say that they had a good time but they never laugh. I don’t know if they’re afraid to laugh, like something might come out, I don’t know,” he said.

Fletcher got his start at Laffs Comedy Club, where he performed every week, eventually gaining enough momentum to take his show on the road, he said.

Fletcher said he is also co-writing a script for a movie that he and a friend are creating.

“It’s called ‘The Consequences of a Feeble Mind.’ It’s about these two idiots and we’re about half-way done with it now and hoping to start filming sometime in the fall,” he said.

For more information on what the funny guy is doing, visit his website at funnyfletcher.com or email him at curtfletchercomedy@yahoo.com.

Editorial: Volume 19 Issue 2

It is a right and not a privilege to know exactly what is being put into foods and how they are made. Most people do not know that the majority of food being consumed in America contains some ingredients that are genetically modified in some way.

Monsanto has been in the news a great deal lately because of the bill passed in March deemed the “Monsanto Protection Act” or HR 933; section 735. This controversial bill bars federal courts from being able to stop the sale or planting of genetically modified or genetically engineered seeds, and many Americans are upset at these privileges given to GM and GE seed corporations.

New Mexico has joined with other states to make it a law to label these so called “Frankenfoods” in order to know what is really in our food with the SB18 bill, introduced by Senator Wirth (D-Santa Fe). Unfortunately this bill was affirmed “dead” on January 31 by Senator Wirth and Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez.

Many other countries have outright banned GM and GE seeds and pesticides for many reasons such as the devastation caused by chemicals and pesticides to insect populations, the damage to regular crops unable to grow near any GM crops, as well as making farmers sick from chemical and pesticide use, and has also been proven to cause tumors and shorten life spans of lab animals.

When is our country going to open its eyes to what GM and GE foods really can do to people, as well as understanding that we need to fight for our rights to know what exactly is in the foods we are all consuming. If we let our government pass laws that protect these companies and let them deny bills designed to inform people that some foods are truly manmade and manufactured, then we are a part of the problem.

Review: Once more into the breach

By: Jamison Wagner

“Star Trek: Into Darkness: is a well-executed sequel

Fans of the J.J. Abrams reboot Star Trek storyline will likely be delighted with his latest addition to the franchise in the form of Star Trek: Into Darkness.

From the well-done acting delivered by all the characters to some outstanding special effects and a fast-paced storyline, the movie keeps you ‘engaged’ throughout.

Spoilers ahead!

Chris Pine (Star Trek, Rise of the Guardians, Unstoppable) delivers as an excellent Captain Kirk. He comes off as brash and reckless at the start, but as the story progresses he matures, and at the conclusion, delivers a speech that shows him to be a level-headed and responsible leader and captain.

Zachary Quinto (Star Trek, Margin Call, Heroes) makes a superb young Spock. While initially seeming indifferent and completely unemotional, he shows the depth of a character who struggles not to feel because he cares too much.

Every character has their defining qualities, from the steely-eyed Sulu to the nervous and enthusiastic Chekov; or the ill-tempered but warm Dr. McCoy.

Uhura comes across as frightened but courageous and willing to do the job anyway. Carol Marcus is tenacious enough to seek the truth regardless of the risk to herself. Great characters, all of them, and a credit to the original actors.

It is Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock, The Hobbit, War Horse) who truly steals the show with a command performance as the villain of the piece that must be seen to be believed. From shedding a tear for his lost crewmen; to his frightful resolution as he threatens the Enterprise with absolute annihilation if Spock does not comply with his demands,. Cumberpatch dominates the screen from start to finish.

The heroes can only shine when matched against a truly menacing foe, and as Kahn, Cumberbatch delivers a performance that would do Ricardo Montalban (villain of the original Star Trek II: Wrath of Kahn) proud.

The special effects are well executed and give the movie that extra edge when it comes to having a great science fiction flick. From when the Enterprise rises from the sea like a massive leviathan of the deep, to when San Francisco suffers catastrophic damage as a starship crashes; the visuals will keep you on the edge of your seat.

The camera work is well done and you can readily see what is going on; thankfully this movie does not suffer from the overuse of lens flare like the 2009 Star Trek did.

Overall, the story is a great rework of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn as it fits with the continuity of the alternate universe created by the 2009 Star Trek reboot.

This movie is a wild ride from beginning to end and well worth watching. Perhaps I am too generous with my praise, but I know that I will be watching it more than once on the big screen.

Rating of “Star Trek: Into Darkness”

Story: 5/5

Acting: 5/5

FX: 5/5

Camera: 5/5