While the Professor’s Away the Kids Won’t Play: Kansas State University Faculty Teach Remotely with Wimba
Kansas State University is a large state university in every sense. Ranked as one of the nation’s “cutting-edge schools” according to Kaplan Publishing’s You Are Here: A Guide to Over 380 Colleges and Unlimited Paths to Your Future, “K-State” offers 65 masters degrees, 45 doctoral degrees and 22 graduate certificates in multiple disciplines to more than 23, 000 students from all 50 states and more than 90 countries. Its 250+ undergraduate majors keep its students busy academically, while its Big-12 Conference varsity sports, numerous club sports, and 450 student organizations help its students busy when they’re out of the classroom. K-State also ranks first nationally among state universities in its total of Rhodes, Marshall, Truman, Goldwater, and Udall scholars since 1986, earning K-State a place among the nation’s elite universities.
And these broad strokes have carried over to K-State’s online environment.
K-State has one of the largest online offerings of any school in the world. As of the Fall 2008 semester, more than 2, 000 of its face-to-face classes had an online component, and the university offered nearly 150 hybrid courses 350 purely online distance courses, relying on Axio to be the hub of its online courses. With Axio, faculty can post syllabi, course notes, and PowerPoint slides, while students can communicate via message boards. But since 2007, K-State has also relied heavily on the Wimba Collaboration Suite to foster significantly more collaboration between students and instructors in disciplines ranging from agriculture to education.
According to Bryan Vandiviere, Web Presentation Technology Coordinator at Kansas State University, more than 900 faculty use either Wimba Classroom or Wimba Voice to bring a collaborative elements to their online courses. In fact, more than 700 courses count on Wimba each semester.
As the primary support person for Wimba at K-State, Vandiviere proudly boasts that he can support all faculty by just himself and few work-study students. “In the Fall 2007 semester alone, Kansas State University faculty combined to hold 696 live classes and created 759 archives via Wimba Classroom, ” Vandiviere said happily. “Amazingly, all of this was supported by only one full-time technology staff member and three students.”
But beyond being so easy to use and support, the value of Wimba is really seen when faculty – both technology gurus and novices – quickly see how collaborative courses help their students succeed.
Christina L. Gawlik, a Graduate Teaching Assistant and University Supervisor in K-State’s Department of Elementary Education, is one such instructor.
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