Case study: The Perfect Balance of Quality and Availability
Ruth Roach, PhD, a professor of English at El Camino College Compton Center in California, sought an online platform to manage her courses and to improve the quality of learning for her students. Her educational background spans public community college as well as private college and university. Prof. Roach received online teaching certificates from El Camino College in addition to training in online teaching and learning through California Virtual Campus; experiences which left her with clear expectations of what a digital educational system should provide. "I have been exploring and evaluating several platforms for years. As a result of my interests in the ways online resources can enhance the educational experience and a dual awareness about the economic realities that students like myself and the students I teach from low-income communities experience--in other words, in trying to balance quality education and financial restrictions...I fell in love with [RCampus]," Prof. Roach said.
For Prof. Roach, RCampus was more than just the most practical solution. "I liked that [RCampus] was fundamentally accessible to students of all economic classes. I remained [with RCampus] because of the versatile and reliable features," she explained. RCampus facilitates communication between Prof. Roach and her students, provides instant access to course materials, simplifies and expedites the grading process, and much more.
Ruth Roach, PhD
El Camino College Compton Center
Providing Students with Tools to Succeed
Among the advantages that RCampus brings to Prof. Roach's students is an organized method for tracking their progress. "RCampus is immensely valuable to me and my students for tracking class points which is valuable on many practical and pedagogical levels. Students can see what assignments are required, how many points they are worth, and how they are progressing in the class in mastering important skills because this offers a rather helpful view of the course itself," Prof. Roach explained.
"One former student later told me, unsolicited, she was really glad for it because she thought she was doing fine, checked, and made adjustments accordingly whereas in other classes, she did not find out until final grades were posted that she was not doing as well as she had thought. Therefore, I like that it empowers my students in their own education," she said. "On my end, the act of naming these assignments and their point values has also helped me to think about the assignments I select. I [also] value the discussion board feature for continued class discussions outside of class. I think it makes students feel more connected to the academic community, and it allows them to test ideas--and their voices--in such a setting."
All college students are responsible for keeping track of multiple assignments due in different courses, and RCampus keeps students organized so that they can manage their time effectively. Prof. Roach commented, "In addition to the benefits of the gradebook and class discussions, I also value the syllabus-posting and calendar/coursework features. Another former student explained that the automatic email reminders of upcoming assignments (reminders which are generated by the calendar that is created when coursework assignments are created) were helpful to her."
The Platform that Adapts to Individual Technical Skills
RCampus gives instructors and students the freedom to use advanced features as they see fit. Prof. Roach prefers to leave the options open for her students. "Overall, I try to keep it simple using mostly the coursework with gradebook and discussions, but I have experimented with flex credits for my technologically-savvy students so they can generate an ePortfolio instead of a paper one or link to other websites. RCampus is a versatile platform for students at various levels of technological ability," said Prof. Roach in reference to the highly-personalized RCampus ePortfolio System which enables students to easily display and share their work in an organized digital format.
Elevating Students to Higher Education
Prof. Roach and her students recognize RCampus as a valuable educational asset. Prof. Roach has been impressed by the consistently positive remarks her students have made about RCampus. "I don't recall any negative comments [from students]! I think the most notable or remarkable aspect of the positive comments I have received is that the comments have been unsolicited over the years, yet students comment on it periodically," Prof. Roach exclaimed. "One parent/guardian of a younger college student recently told me on the phone that she was quite impressed with it--again, without prompting. She explained that she was able to show that student with clarity that the assignments in his folder needed actually to be turned in for grading whereas he had just retained them in his folder! In a way, then, it helped that new college student navigate the uncharted territory of college life and college courses."
Prof. Roach remembers a particular comment by a student that confirmed her years of researching various learning management systems and the decision to select RCampus. "Another student who used both RCampus and another course management system said she liked RCampus better. This student is one of the only ones who could compare having experienced both," recalls Prof. Roach. "She also liked the prompting notes I provided using the comments feature beside grades!"
After only three years of using RCampus, Prof. Roach already feels like she has been using it "forever." She has even suggested RCampus to colleagues. "I have recommended it to a few frustrated adjunct faculty members who asked for my solutions to motivating students to turn in classwork," Prof. Roach concluded.