Congratulations to Faculty/Staff Innovator – Kelli Bloomstrom

Kelli Bloomstrom Image - Edited

Kelli Bloomstrom is another recently recognized innovator at Centralia College. She is the Dean of Transitional Education & Centralia College East and known for her exceptional work ethic, as well as how much she sells herself and her abilities short. Something she never lacks in is supporting her faculty, staff and the students in her programs.

Since 2009, Kelli has been Associate Dean of CC East, providing instruction in the classroom, leadership and advocacy for the campus that serves the east county. Her leadership skills and work ethic provided her the opportunity to serve as the Dean of Transitional Education on main campus, as well, starting in January of 2015.

Since that time Kelli has not only maintained her unbelievable support of faculty, staff and students of east county, but has expanded to being an integral part of the college mission by writing federal grants, establishing programs and pathways for students getting their GEDs or High School diplomas.

In her own words:

I am supporting faculty. Project I-DEA (Integrated Digital English Acceleration) is an educational project with support from the Gates Foundation that includes innovative instruction for ESL learners in the three lowest levels using best practices of I-BEST, an information literacy approach, and the “flipped classroom” model to support student learning. This project is grant funded and supports learning outside of the classroom by providing students with computers and 24-7 internet.

In Basic Skills, Kelli has written several grants that are funding  “creation of new courses that create intentional pathways from basic skills to the various certificate/degree programs offered at Centralia College.”

These innovations have greatly affected the workload of the faculty; creating new courses and curriculum is always time consuming, but well worth it especially when it positively affects learning. We look forward to continuing the work with our Workforce Education, Child and Family Studies, and Academic Transfer campus partners developing pathways that are clear, intentional and supportive to help students transition successfully to other campus programs.

We’re super excited about the work the Kelli and her team are doing and continue to cheer them on. Thanks for the awesomeness, Kelli!

Congratulations to Faculty/Staff Innovator – Melissa Williams

Melissa Williams Image - Edited

Melissa Williams is another of Centralia College’s recently recognized innovators. She is a Communications Assistant Professor who teaches English, Public Speaking, Intro to mass Media and Intercultural Communication courses. Melissa is quite adept at thinking outside the box, searching for solutions and for how to make things easier for her students.

In her own words:

 One of the innovative things I have brought to English 102 is LiveBinders. LiveBinders is a website that provides organized, cloud based storage in the form of an online binder. The virtual binder gives students a place to easily organize and store their research materials and accompanying notes, summaries, and drafts. As a teacher, I can easily check on their progress from any computer while their peers can simultaneously offer helpful feedback and commentary.

With a LiveBinder, students are no longer required to spend money and time printing their resources out, and they can receive feedback in real time rather than waste time handing the physical binder back and forth between student and teacher.

Melissa can also be seen helping out in the eLearning office to problem solve technology issues with students, faculty and staff. Melissa is another huge asset to the wonderful team at Centralia College.

Congratulations to Faculty/Staff Innovator – Otto Rabe

Otto and Shyla Rabe Image Edited

Otto Rabe is one of our recently recognized innovators. He is the Professor of Accounting/Business at Centralia College, where he teaches, manages the Forensic Accounting Club (FAC) and the VITA Tax center.

The VITA, or Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, program is offered as a service to the community from accounting students at Centralia College. This allows them to gain critical experience working in real world situations through volunteering their time.

The FAC has guest speakers and partake in “The Great Forensic Challenge” each year. In this popular event for accounting students, they learn what it’s like to look for fraud and collusion between two mock companies. This activity also coordinates with Centralia College drama students, who play CEOs of companies and other roles who may need to be interrogated.

Otto’s fun-loving attitude is coupled with his serious attention to student outcomes. In his own words:

I take a holistic commercial approach to delivering instruction as it applies to the field of public accounting. I infuse real-world activity into academia in order to create a more work-focused student outcome. Some examples are: Students auditing actual companies in the “Live Audit” project, outside professionals speak to the FAC club in a guest speaker capacity, and students doing taxes for the general public.

Otto’s innovations are far-reaching and felt across the campus, especially by his students.

It has a very positive affect! It forces me to align instructional outcome with current industry expectation. Students seem to have a better developed sense of their career choices, and I am able to become better connected with the students and their academic development.

Otto’s innovations are affecting the students, the campus and the community. Thanks for all your amazing work, Otto! Keep it up, dude!

Want to Help Students Start the Term Off Well? Tell Them About Week Zero

The blessed occasion is almost upon us here at Centralia College.

Start of the term – Yay!

There are some important things you can do as an educator or student services member to help students start the term off well. Having a friendly face, giving clear directions or expectations are a couple of ideas, but the big one I’m talking about is all about that bass. Ok, not that bass, but Week Zero, which is pretty awesome, too.

What the heck is Week Zero?

“Week Zero” has been established at schools around the world  for the past several years – since the advent of eLearning, web-enhanced, hybrid and online courses. It all started with the idea that while the world keeps advancing and moving forward with the latest and greatest technologies, not all students have ever heard of them, let alone used them for school where they’ll get graded for it. So, to put students minds at ease as to what they could expect in the courses, the technology they’d need to use and any potential problems they’d encounter, Week Zero was born.

The idea behind Week Zero is a prep week with no stakes attached to it.

It’s a week where students could look around, familiarize themselves with how to get around the classes, practice submitting things, read the syllabus and ask for help on technology they don’t understand up front while familiarizing themselves with resources.

The research shows that students who have a better understanding of what’s expected of them before the start of the course have a much higher success rate than those who don’t. This is especially crucial for first-time students, online and hybrid students, students returning to school after a long absence and Running Start students. It would be like starting a brand new job and being expected to hit the ground running, having no idea what you’ll be doing, when/where you should show up, what tools you’ll be using, what language you’ll be speaking, what you should wear, or who you should speak to.

GIF of man on the verge of tears, holding his head with caption "This is too much."

too much” from Reaction GIFs, June 24, 2015.

Week Zero at Centralia College

Here at Centralia College, Week Zero started in Angel the week before the term started. All classes were automatically opened to students to start moving around in and there was a course where people could go in and practice submitting assignments, posting in discussion forums, taking quizzes, etc.

Now, with Canvas, instructors are able to publish their courses themselves and can choose whether or not to have them open during Week Zero. We still publicize Week Zero for students and HIGHLY recommend to instructors to publish their courses and have some welcome and introductory material for students because this is so CRUCIAL to student success.

What can you do to support students with this?

If you’re in student services, let students know about this resource when they register, get advised, convey nerves around the start of the quarter, express they’ve been out of school for a while, ask when they can access their courses, express difficulties, etc.

If you’re an instructor, be prepared for Week Zero. Publish your course a week before the term starts. Have a welcome page when students enter your class that greets as well as directs students where to go, what to do, gives expectations, directs to resources, etc. Don’t assume students know everything. You can put some orientation material in the course to have students practice assignments, quizzes and discussion forums, but make sure these are not graded. If you’d like assistance in creating any of these or ideas for what to do, just ask eLearning – we’d be more than happy to help!

***Remember, you can always refer students to eLearning for help and support if they ask you something you’re not sure about or how to do. ***

Walk in support: NW corner of Kirk Library

Email: elearning@centralia.edu

Phone: (360) 736 – 9391 ext. 672

Website: http://www.centralia.edu/elearning/

Remember, sometimes it’s the little things that make the biggest impacts. Help your students start the term off successfully with Week Zero.

Congratulations to Faculty/Staff Innovators – TRiO: Student Support Services

TRiO SSS Crew

We’d like to recognize TRiO Programs – Student Support Services as 2015 Innovators. They are a federally-funded grant program designed to provide additional support, advocacy, and services to students who are first generation (neither parent has a bachelor degree or higher), low income, or have a disability. Basically, these folks  do everything they can to serve at-risk students,  to help them along their college path, and to succeed in their courses and in their college plans.

SSS works with what’s called a more intrusive or proactive model of support like many other colleges and universities have adopted, including WGU.

According to “The History of Intrusive Advising in the General College” by Anthony Albecker,

The intrusive advising model is based on the premise that some students will not take the initiative in resolving their academic concerns, thereby needing the intrusive assistance of assigned advisors. The use of the word “intrusive,” as coined in Walter Earl’s 1987 article, “Intrusive Advising for Freshmen,” is used to describe this model of advising as “action oriented by involving and motivating students to seek help when needed” (p. 24). The intrusive model incorporates the components of prescriptive and developmental advising models, creating a holistic approach that meets a student’s total needs (Earl).

In addition to this TRiO is taking their traditional face-to-face strategies and moving them to the cybersphere.

From Liisa Preslan, Director of TRiO – Support Services at Centralia College:

We are creating a Canvas classroom that students can access PRIOR to beginning at Centralia College. It will have information on their next steps (short videos on financial aid, paying for tuition, getting books, etc.), lists of campus and community resources that will be advantageous to their college experience. It will also have two assessments – one for college readiness and one for financial literacy. This course serves several purposes. 1) Students will have a “one stop” resource for information all new students should know prior to starting college; 2) It will provide a more effective way to communicate with students than through listservs, student email system, or traditional mail; 3) We will be able to connect with them from the time they apply to when they start classes – which can be as long as six-months – allowing us to build relationships earlier to increase retention; and 4) Students will have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with Canvas in a no-risk situation before their courses begin. Hopefully, this will minimize the learning curve, particularly for our students with limited technology skills. We have capitalized on several technologies available like Panopto and video features to provide a richer experience for students, but also kept accessibility in mind throughout the design phase. One example is videos of former TRiO Students who share their struggles and offer words of encouragement. Students can access them any time they need motivation.

We are still finalizing content and have not completed the entire site. We want to have a quality product that meets accessibility standards before going live. That process takes a lot of front-loaded effort, but we are certain the benefits for our students, our program, and the campus will be tenfold.

We want to thank Liisa and all the staff at TRiO – Support Services for rolling up their sleeves and doing the hard work it takes to be innovative for the sake of the students’ success, and, ultimately, our campus success.

Congratulations to Faculty/Staff Innovator – Sam Small

Sam Small - Julia Fractal background

Sam Small is one of our recently recognized innovators. He is the Applications Developer for Centralia College and in his own words, he “[serves] up data analysis, software engineering, and anything else related to the software/data side of Computer Science.” In addition to his mad computer coding, Sam  teaches in the Computer Science workforce program, building students’ web application development skill sets.

Around campus, we’ve come to look at Sam as the “answer guy.” If you’re in a meeting anywhere on campus, it’s highly likely part of the conversation will go like this:

– “It would be really great if we could…Is that even possible?…I bet Sam could come up with something.”

Here’s a look at Sam’s innovations in his own words:

I like to use technology to find better ways to do my job.  I look for ways that programming can help enhance our jobs at Centralia College, and more recently – student experiences.  This week I have been working on a low cost prototype attendance system that logs attendance and makes the results available instantly across campus.  Long gone will be the days of manual attendance verifications, and manual attendance taking!  I love innovation, and I particularly love innovation that improves return on investment.

Sometimes innovations come about as a result of a need, other times innovations happen because of a want.  For me, I am looking to innovate daily – improve our lives, our professional and student experiences, and in the end save us money.  My workload has increased a lot because there are a LOT of opportunities for innovation in this arena at Centralia College!  I often find myself thinking about how one innovation/implementation can affect others on campus, and try and find ways to improve the processes.  I hope that everyone’s work will be more focused as a result of new innovations and systems – because this is the real purpose.

Here is a summary of ‘official’ projects Sam is working on, has finished, or will be starting this year:

  • AEW: A modern, easily modified, easily measured system that provides instructional staff a means to report academic indicators to Centralia College support staff.
  • SMART:  A monitoring and reporting system that works with Office 2013 tools including access, and excel.  The purpose is to augment existing HPUX queries and provide staff at CC the ability to do ad-hoc data gathering against our database.
  • MyCC:  Relaunch of the intranet on a SharePoint 2013 environment.  This is the first major system overhaul I completed here at CC.  The success of this project allows us to launch both a Content Management System and Student Portal with much less cost and provide a much more robust, manageable information system.
  • Centralia.Edu CMS project:  Establish a system that facilitates content management on the public centralia.edu website.
  • Centralia College Student Portal:  A proposed project built upon the MyCC Framework to provide a unique student information system for Centralia College students to improve their academic experiences here at Centralia College.
  • CCVote:  An intern developed application to allow students at Centralia College to vote on campus elections.
  • Centralia College Business Intelligence:  Training and development of business intelligence tools including dashboards, pivot tables, and data driven documents.

Essentially, Sam is innovative in how he thinks and that he cares about making people’s lives easier. Thanks for all your amazing work, Sam!