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Iowa Lakes Community College Keeping up with technology

By Staff | Sep 4, 2016

College receives $1.7 million grant to upgrade tech

By David Swartz

Managing Editor

A nearly $1.7 million grant has been awarded to Iowa Lakes Community College, which will help the institution to strengthen education through technology, curriculum and faculty development.

The college learned Wednesday that its grant proposal entitled Raising Collaboration and Student through updated Technology, Redesigned Curriculum and Flexible Course Option’ was approved by the U.S. Department of Education.

“We feel this grant will help us provide updated technology as well as flexible teaching methods for students to learn in an improvement environment which, in turn, will increase enrollment, retention, completion and success rates of student,” said Iowa Lakes President Valerie Newhouse. “This grant also offers great opportunities for professional development for our faculty.”

The Title III Strengthening Institutions Grant specifically looks for Institutions of Higher Learning, which can use the funds to become self-sufficient while improvement and strengthening academic quality, institutional management and fiscal stability.

Iowa Lakes Vice President of Administration Scott Stokes said the college had originally applied for the grant in 2015.

“It’s a very competitive grant and you needed almost a perfect score to receive it,” Stokes said.

The college didn’t earn the grant then, but more funds were available resulting in this current award.

“We felt very passionate about this project and using technology to enhance learning,” said Stokes, saying that the college moved forward with plans despite not initially receiving the grant.

“Now that we have this grant, we can move faster to meet our goals,” said Stokes. “Iowa Lakes has been in the forefront in technology within specific programs, such as the nationally recognized Wind Energy Technology Program. Students expect the most up-to-date technology. This grant will help us eventually expand cutting edge technology to our academic programs and classes.”

In addition, more professional development opportunities will help impact everything from course curriculum design all the way to graduation.

“Instructors with tables will be able to move around the classroom,” Stokes said. “An technological instructor will also be able to research new technology and tell others how to use it in the classroom.

“This is an investment in the future to continuously improve and seek new ways to impact learning,” Stokes said.

The five-year grant starts with piloting newer technology in the college’s agriculture and nursing programs. Those two programs will start with infusing active learning and flexible course options within the coursework.

Stokes said that some students prefer regular face-to-face courses while others prefer online learning. He said that there will be hybrid courses.

“For example, if there’s a Monday, Wednesday, Friday class, the first two days might be a regular class with the Friday class online,” he said. “It will give students more flexibility.”

Project years three through five will serve as a collegewide opportunity to provide faculty with the latest technology while incorporating Adaptive learning into classrooms and developing improved flexible course options to recruit, retain and engage students.

Another unique feature is that students will be able to link email and cloud storage to one user interface, which quite often is a smart phone. And, more than 90 classrooms have been identified to receive upgraded technology.