Lorain County Community College in Elyria, Ohio, is a microcosm of the issues facing higher education these days: It has twice the number of students the physical space can hold, yet it needs to contain costs.
To tackle both problems, psychology professor Vince Granito, PhD, is teaching classes that include an on-campus site where he teaches about 25 students, and two off-campus sites in the area that include about 25 other students. To help students at the remote sites feel more connected, they watch him on a video screen in front of the room, and interact with him and the on-site students through clickers and a two-way microphone system. To enhance class cohesion, Granito requires his on-campus students to turn on their mikes when asking questions so that offsite students feel included in class discussions.
"It's almost like teaching in a large lecture hall," he says.
Granito also makes available a range of online resources—particularly helpful for students who work full time and can't make regular office hours. All of his lectures are available online for example, so students can catch classes they've missed or revisit topics they may not have fully grasped. He also posts Web links, YouTube clips and short videos where he explains specific concepts, such as analysis of variance or classical conditioning, that he doesn't always have time to cover in depth in class.
Students report that the tools help them gain greater mastery of the material in a way that's convenient to their schedules, Granito says. In fact, his class surveys reveal that students have dropped fewer classes and feel more engaged since he has added these features.