The annual yearbook released by the Center for Digital Education aims to support and acknowledge educational leaders as they continue to grow their knowledge of digital education. The 2013 CDE Yearbook features 40 K-12 and higher education innovators that have proven their dedication to teaching and learning through technology. This year SoftChalk had three nominees selected for recognition in the 2014 CDE yearbook for their incredible accomplishments in online education. Walter Barlow, Dr. James Brown, and Dr. James May represent true innovation in the field of digital education. Their creative use of educational technology to improve the quality of their online learning programs has set a unique standard in the future of online learning. Check out the following profiles to learn more about these Innovators in Education!
Walt Barlow was recruited by the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) in 2007 to assist in the development of an on-demand learning program to transform how its sixteen colleges deliver online and hybrid online education. Walt worked on developing a template for KCTCS that allows students to enroll in modules aligned to teach specific skill sets. These modules are available for enrollment 365 days of each year, and have all of the needed learning resources embedded within them. This allows KCTCS students to earn credit for prior knowledge to expedite completion of certificates and/or degrees. He later joined the (AMTEC) as the Curriculum Director. AMTEC is a National Science Foundation National Center of Excellence in Advanced Automotive Technology funded by the National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education, and is the lead college system and fiscal agent for AMTEC.
As the AMTEC Curriculum Director, Barlow has led teams of industry experts and college faculty to develop creative and engaging lessons that allow for future advanced manufacturing maintenance technicians to receive a quality education in a flexible, yet still educational and career oriented environment. The need for highly skilled workers to maintain advanced equipment used to build motor vehicles from Michigan to Texas is what initially spurred the National Science Foundation to fund this educational program. AMTEC now creates and sustains an innovative and responsive standards-based workforce development system that meets the advanced manufacturing’s key skill requirements. As a collaboration of colleges and automotive companies, involving 30 community colleges and nearly every automobile manufacturer in the USA, AMTEC works to strengthen the competency and global competitiveness of the advanced manufacturing workforce.
“We are streamlining access to education,” Barlow explains, allowing students to choose the modules they need to advance their careers and complete assessments to pass through skills they have already mastered.
Like many industries, advanced manufacturing is adapting to the new global marketplace. As these employers increasingly seek out highly skilled and adaptive workers, community and technical colleges must keep pace. Innovative online learning platforms, such as those developed by AMTEC using SoftChalk Cloud and other educational technologies, will continue to aid instructors in creating dynamic educational experiences and environments to meet the demands of students preparing themselves for the employment marketplace. Walt has truly paved a path to success for future advanced manufacturing technicians to receive the quality education they need in a flexible yet engaging environment.
Often referred to as the “Godfather of Online Science”, Dr. James Brown is a pioneer in placing science and public health totally online. While Dean of Science, Engineering, Health Sciences and Human performance at Ocean County College, he became the principal investigator on a half million dollar grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to establish the One Day per Week Nursing Program at the College. Through this program, nursing students were able to enroll in their required courses completely online and complete their clinical experience in one face-to-face day per week. He then collaborated with faculty and staff to develop all of the prerequisite science courses for this new program, a total of 14 fully online courses including Anatomy and Physiology, Microbiology, and Chemistry. As a result, a completely online Associate of Science in General Studies degree with a concentration in Science became available to students.
Dr. Brown now teaches totally online for a number of colleges and universities across the United States including Kean University, Unitek College, the American Military University, Mercer County Community College, Colorado Christian University and the City University of New York. He has taken online courses a step further by delivering them through “The Cloud.” His online Introduction to Public Health course is now available free of charge to all 19 community colleges in New Jersey and was featured in *NJBIZ*.
Dr. Brown is a true Innovator in Online Learning. His courses have revolutionized the way science education is delivered, and students from all over the world are now able to take laboratory based science courses, such as microbiology, biology or public health, in circumstances that do not lend themselves to traditional face-to-face instruction.
Dr. James S. May is not afraid to push boundaries daily by engaging both his students and colleagues through various technologies and innovative communication strategies. He is currently the Faculty Fellow for Innovation and Technology at Valencia College in Orlando, Florida, where he also teaches English as a Second Language, emphasizing Computer Assisted Language Learning. This year, as part of a Valencia Endowed Chair, he lead a team of 15 cross disciplinary professors working to develop an open-source, digitally-enhanced text for Developmental Reading, Writing and ESL students using TED talks as an engagement platform.
Dr. May has also been a creative and driving force behind CirclesofInnovation.org, an open-source, faculty-to-faculty development resource and faculty development program, that has been running at Valencia since March and that was launched nationally this summer at NISOD in Austin, Texas. His recent awards include a 2012 Sloan Consortium Effective Practice Award for “Cellphones in the Classroom: Collaborative or Calamitous,” and a 2012 Association of Florida Colleges (AFC) Excellence in Technology Award for the use of smart devices in the classroom. In 2011, he was the CASE/Carnegie Foundation’s Florida Professor of the Year, and he also earned an AFC Excellence in Technology award for teaching strategies related to Video–On-Demand learning. Dr. May is a six-time Valencia Endowed Chair award recipient and the 2010 Florida Association of Community College’s Professor of the Year Award Winner. As President and webmaster for Sunshine State TESOL, Florida’s organization for Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Dr. May has spent the past four years sharing his knowledge and capabilities with web design, technology, and social media and has helped to change the organization’s web presence and social media following. He has also shared and influenced ESL teachers nationwide with strategies for engaging second language students with Computer/Cellphone Assisted Language Learning (CALL).