A college education is important for a lot of reasons, but it’s not always within everyone’s reach. Tuition costs as well as work and family responsibilities can get in the way of getting a degree or a diploma.
Wanting to give more students the opportunity to learn, Wisconsin-based Northwood Technical College decided to offer flexible, affordable learning options. It started streaming lectures from one campus to others, expanding its programs across all campuses and outreach centers while keeping the programs cost-effective.
But under its previous setup, lecturers couldn’t just initiate a virtual session. Everything had to be arranged centrally. So to improve the delivery of distance learning, Northwood Tech looked for a cloud-based and mobile approach to video conferencing.
BlueJeans Meetings was an easy choice, according to Distance Learning Specialist Liz Elza. Students could join a session from any device with a camera as long as they had access to the internet.
“It was also a scalable and cost-effective solution.”
Lecturers have since been able to set up video conferencing sessions and connect with students on the fly.
“They can just copy and paste their assigned BlueJeans Meetings details into our Learning Management System and have immediate access to it for each class they’re teaching,” says Elza.
For staff, this means lighter workload.
“It has enabled us to shift our focus away from repetitive scheduling processes, allowing us to put our time and energy into meeting our students’ needs.”
A Smooth Transition
When COVID-19 forced classes to shift to remote learning, the transition was quick and largely painless for Northwood Tech. Its technology and processes were all in place.
“We were really ahead of the game that way,” says Elza. “A lot of other colleges looked at our video conferencing platform and were able to understand what we had done to make distance learning effective so they could build theirs.”
Elza acknowledges that distance learning is not always as easy as it seems.
“In a perfect world, it’s really simple. But it can be overwhelming.”
Having BlueJeans Meetings in place helps by keeping students engaged and learning personal. During the pandemic, video calls allowed lecturers to discuss concepts from textbooks or demonstrate hands-on skills, making a vast difference to students.
“Our students are [also] able to access their class recordings anytime, giving them the opportunity to revisit a concept covered in class easily and efficiently.”
A New Platform for More Effective Learning
As Northwood Tech looks to roll out BlueJeans’ new feature pack for distance learning, classrooms are about to become even more interactive and collaborative.
BlueJeans for Remote Learning comprises enhancements to BlueJeans Meetings and includes classroom management tools that support hybrid and virtual learning. It lets instructors build a teaching experience without the usual overhead costs of hosting a traditional online class.
Northwood Tech lecturers who have tried the remote learning platform have nothing but good things to say.
“They love how they can have everything up in one menu. Also, it keeps track of everything, which is great. It makes it easier for instructors to stay in contact with students.”
Instructors are especially excited about the interactive whiteboard. According to Elza, “They’ve never seen anything like that. It’s just so nice to have all the students collaborating in one place. And it’s so easy to save that collab board and open it back up on the next class.”
The platform will empower instructors to create a more effective learning environment as Northwood Tech continues to embrace virtual education.
“We believe virtual learning provides the innovative teaching practices we strive for to put learning first at Northwood Tech.”