Dyersburg State Community College's Bob Phillips helped develop and implement a Web site that provides a direct link for students to earn college credit or advanced placement.
IN NOVEMBER 2005, we posed the following challenge to our readers as part of our IT Leadership Awards:
Are you breaking new ground in using information technology to improve instruction and student service at your institution? Ed Tech: Focus on Higher Education is looking to celebrate technology revolutionaries who are changing how their institutions fulfill their educational and student service missions.
Please send a 500-word description of how your school is leveraging technology tools to improve student service and educational outcomes. Or feel free to create a hypothetical example of how you might revolutionize your campus with technology.
Based on the high number of entries, we divided the entrants into three categories – public institution, private institution and community college. A panel of judges from Duke University awarded the community college Pedagogy & IT Practice award to Bob Phillips, dean of the Business & Technology Division at Dyersburg State Community College, in Dyersburg, Tenn. In his role, Phillips is responsible for budgeting and curriculum, as well as day-to-day operations and supervision of faculty. He will receive a $2,000 shopping spree at www.cdwg.com for his institution. Phillips' entry follows.
Keeping Pace With Growth
Dyersburg State Community College works closely with area high schools to provide students with free college credit or advanced placement at the Tennessee Technology Centers as part of an articulated credit program. In 2003, fewer than 50 high school students applied for the articulated credit. In 2004, through the increased efforts of the local tech prep coordinator, that number increased to more than 500.
As a result of the increase in applicants, the process for articulating the credit started to become cumbersome. Individual course tests had to be printed and given to the tech prep coordinator, who delivered the tests to the individual high school instructors who then administered them.
The completed tests were then returned to the coordinator, who forwarded them to the department head for grading.
After grading, the results were sent back to the tech prep coordinator, who forwarded them to the teachers. They, in turn, reported individual results to the students. This process absorbed a significant number of resources and delayed the delivery of results to students.
Gaining Speed and Simplicity
In fall 2004, Dyersburg State won a $35,000 Perkins grant to develop a computer-based system for conducting tech prep articulation with 15 local high schools. Between October 2004 and April 2005, the college developed and implemented an articulation Web site to speed and simplify credit processing.
The site, www.dscc.edu/articulation, provides a direct link on a 24 x 7 basis for students to earn college credit or advanced placement by successfully completing competency exams in 21 subjects. It also gives the students access to online tests with instant feedback on passing or failing performances.
In addition, the site enables students to take practice exams, measure their skill levels and correct weaknesses prior to taking the competency exam.
For educators, the Web site provides resources that allow high school teachers to compare statewide competencies with Dyersburg State competencies, and to identify opportunities to enhance students' skill levels in order to improve performance on the competency exams.
This link has significantly increased the flow of communication between high school teachers and Dyersburg State faculty members in similar subject areas. It also has resulted in the alteration of curriculum to find common competencies that allow students to achieve subject knowledge without having to repeat similar courses at the college level.
A Statewide Impact
Since its launch, the Web site has served more than 850 high school students, with more than 5,500 practice and competency exams completed.
The site has been so successful that in June 2005, Dyersburg State distributed the software required to implement the program to all 12 community colleges in Tennessee. Moreover, in July 2005, the Tennessee Board of Education requested that college and Tennessee Technology Center credit earned through this Web site be made available to all high school students in the state.
Within a month, a new articulation agreement was implemented statewide. In September 2005, staff from Dyersburg State made a presentation about the online articulation process at the National Tech Prep Conference in Orlando, Fla., and introduced this concept to school systems throughout the United States.
About Bob Phillips
What's your background?
I joined Dyersburg State Community College in 1986 as an adjunct professor of management, teaching day and evening classes in management, marketing and finance, and providing customized training programs to businesses and industries in West Tennessee.
Why did you get into IT?
With the advent of the World Wide Web, all kinds of opportunities became available for educators to incorporate the use of the Web into instruction. I quickly realized that in order to take full advantage of these opportunities, I would have to be literate in computers and skilled in numerous software packages.
What technology project are you most proud of?
I am proud of the way our college implemented and expanded the online program. In 1994, we had fewer than 100 enrollments in online classes, but by 1998, we had more than 1,000. Despite being the smallest public two-year college in Tennessee with 2,400 students, we lead the state in [online] enrollment in all public colleges.
What's your next planned project?
In August 2006, I will leave my position as dean of Business & Technology and return to a full-time faculty position. I am going to teach the same course, Introduction to Business, in two different formats: online and traditional lecture. I intend to teach both sections using the same books, teaching materials and testing materials.
What makes your school a great place to work?
Dyersburg State offers the opportunity to communicate daily with colleagues and to have a lot of interaction with the student body. Because of its small size, Dyersburg State is more like a family than an organization.