Walters State ranks among the top three community colleges in the country when it comes to using technology to improve the learning experience of students, according to a national survey by the Center for Digital Education.
The college is tied for third place among mid-sized community colleges in this year’s Top Ten Digital Community Colleges Survey. While Walters State has been ranked in the top ten in each of the nine previous surveys, this year’s ranking is the highest.
“This national recognition reflects the commitment of faculty and staff to develop and use technology in ways that increase student learning outcomes and student engagement,” said Dr. Wade McCamey, president of Walters State.
“A ranking this high is also a credit to Walters State’s Information and Educational Technologies Department, which is responsible for installing and maintaining the technology. This department has always set and exceeded high standards for innovative and user-friendly devices that enhance learning,” McCamey said.
The survey studied how community colleges use digital and emerging technologies, including mobile devices and the integration of technology into classrooms. Strategic planning, data management and the availability of technology also factored into the rankings.
Technology priorities, infrastructure and networks, collaboration and outreach, and the use of technology innovations were also considered.
Walters State is a national leader in using mobile tools, including phones and tablets, to enhance learning both in and out of the classroom. Earlier this year, the college received another national honor related to the use of technology. The college was named an Apple Distinguished Program for the innovative use of technology to create a compelling and engaging learning environment.
In addition to enhancing the learning experience, technology also plays a big role in convenience and accessibility. Over 100 classes are offered online. The college also uses “video streaming,” allowing a class or event to be broadcast to all four campuses in real time. Over 30 rooms are equipped with “SMART” media and the college maintains 35 computer labs. Instructors can also check out iPad carts. The R. Jack Fishman Library features an iPad Station for student use. The Library also features 72 online databases with 250,000 electronic books and 37,000 journals.
In this year’s Top Digital Community Colleges Survey, Walters State is tied with Laramie County (Wyo.) Community College in the mid-sized college category, representing colleges with enrollment between 5,000-10,000 students. Lord Fairfax (Va.) Community College ranked first, followed by Virginia Western Community College. Walters State is the only Tennessee college to appear on the survey.
“Community colleges across the country are employing technology in exciting ways to develop unique learning environments on campus and to expand online learning opportunities,” said Alan Cox, senior vice president of the Center.
“Many of the colleges honored this year have employed various technologies and social media to improve resources to further instructional goals,” Cox said.
The Center for Digital Education is a national research and advisory institute specializing in K-12 and higher education technology trends, policy and funding.