By Martin Montoya, Staff Reporter
Just in time for the beginning of the semester, a free CNM guide will be available for students and faculty that will identify Applications for both Android and Apple devices for learning, reading, creating and studying, said Audrey Gramstad, Administrative Director, Distance Learning and Instructional Support.
Prior to now there has not been a college wide distance learning effort to give this information to students and the burden is on Gramstad and her staff to get the faculty to use the APPs, so students can effectively use these tools in learning here at school, Gramstad said.
“My staff who are all distance learning specialists, student employees who all take online courses or faculty that have identified a plethora of Apps that students and faculty can use to engage in their learning at CNM; they are all free Apps that won’t cost anything,” she said.
With the help of mobile analytics the staff in the distance learning community can tell that 90 percent of CNM students use Tablet devices for school, she said.
Educating the staff in making course content more mobile enabled is what the distance learning staff is attempting to do and Gramstad said it starts with simple things the faculty could do, such as making a syllabus in a PDF file instead of a Word document.
“There are lots of different Applications that you can use in conjunction with your distance learning classes you take, or face to face classes,” Gramstad said.
Blackboard does have a mobile App that students can use, and with its debut two years ago it was difficult to navigate but it has become much more efficient, she said.
The Blackboard mobile App is free, however you do have to pay to get access to the college site to get your courses. It costs $5 for a lifetime subscription and $1.99 for a year, she said.
“Most people that we have surveyed and talked to didn’t have a problem paying a couple bucks a year,” she said.
Gramstad explained it is the same price as what she pays for Angry Birds: Starwars and that it is only a small one-time fee just like any other mobile app.
Blackboard is a learning management system and there are two ways to get onto it, first is through the web by logging onto CNM and clicking the link, and the second by downloading the Blackboard mobile App, she said.
Every course offered at CNM each term has its own Blackboard page; it just depends on whether the faculty chooses to use it, she said.
There are between 7200 and 7500 online students each term, Gramstad said. Each term the week before school starts, and during the first two weeks there is drop in computer labs on all of the campuses at different times, and students can get actual hands-on help with Blackboard courses, distance learning courses, and information that can be found on the distance learning website.
“We thought since the explosion of tablets in learning, we are going to give our students a step up and say, ‘Hey, use these things,’” because knowing what application resources there are for students and how to use these tools can help everyone to succeed more in online classrooms, Gramstad said.