Academy eLearning Interview: Nancy Jones

This spring Provost Sandra Flake set forth a call for proposal to nominate a course per college for redesign that addressed large enrollment, engaging students, and saving money. Six courses were selected by the Deans for redesign through the first Chico State Academy eLearning. Hear what one faculty team member has to say about this experience.
Nancy Jones
Nancy Jones teaches in the College of Business; Accounting, Management and Information Systems department. Nancy participated in the first Academy eLearning institute this summer with team member Ru-fang Chiang, redesigning course ACCT 202: Introduction to Managerial Accounting. She was interviewed by TLP to share her experiences with other faculty.

Nancy, what course did your team redesign through the Academy?

We redesigned ACCT 202 which is the Introduction to Managerial Accounting. All business majors and construction management majors are required to take the course, usually during their sophomore or junior year. We also have music, communications, nursing, and other majors who attend our course for either a minor in business or for additional business knowledge. ACCT 202 builds on financial accounting taught in 201 and uses accounting to make business decisions.

What problems did you and your department hope to solve with this course being redesigned?

1) Increase student engagement – sometimes students get scared off when they hear the word “accounting” and they may feel like accounting doesn’t apply to their career choice. We wanted to change that mis-perception; 2) improve student success rate as measured by grades and retention rates; 3) address larger class sizes while maintaining course learning objectives and quality; 4) reduce instructor grading workload, but still provide sufficient feedback and individual contact.

How has the “Academy eLearning” experience helped you redesign your course?

Wow! So many great ideas to build upon and so many resources! The morning Academy eLearning meetings exposed us to new technology and pedagogies, which ignited a myriad of new ideas regarding the redesign and even applications for other courses. Whenever we thought we had our design “hard-coded,” we would be inspired by exploration of other opportunities and end up improving what we thought had been the “final” plan.

We found the Academy eLearning faculty and TLP staff talented and dedicated to teaching excellence. During our meetings, we could bounce ideas off other groups who often ended up helping us refine or define the original idea. Everyone shared willingly and had great feedback. Many had some great suggestions and ideas and the group’s enthusiastic energy became contagious.

Similarly, we are fortunate to have absolutely awesome personnel in TLP. Our team sometimes had some crazy pie-in-the sky ideas and TLP was able to translate our sometimes abstract visions into realizable and realistic projects. The TLP professionals were always there when we needed them and willing to do research or find us other resources if they didn’t have an immediate solution.

Did you learn anything that you will take away and apply to other courses?
If so, what?

Did I learn anything? Tons! I hope that I can retain even a small percentage of what I learned. I learned about collaborative work using Web 2.0 and creation of online communities. I had been using discussion groups, Vista, and chat rooms before, but not as effectively as I could have. I now have a Google and a YouTube site and am encouraging my students to use Google Docs and post on YouTube. We have been able to add a presentation component to our course that we didn’t previously have time for. I hope to do the same for one of my other accounting courses to expose Accounting majors to other channels of communication and in another class to encourage idea generation.

A really simple, but important “technology” we learned was how to make our courses disability accessible. I had no idea how awful our syllabi sounded using automated readers. Now all my documents are formatted with “accessibility” in mind.

I learned how to attach links and macros to “clicker” slides. My imagination is going crazy with that one. Goodbye boring PowerPoints!

If you could advise others, who may apply to the next Academy eLearning, what would you tell them about preparing for a large enrollment course redesign?

First off, don’t limit yourself. Explore all options. Spend time investigating technologies and pedagogies. Don’t discount anything that looks “weird” until you see what it’s all about. Let your creativity flow. Aim high! Then as you start fine-tuning the course, you’ll be able to figure out what will work and what won’t.

Be excited! Be energized and prepare to work hard! The results are well worth the work!

And lastly, expect to be challenged. This is all new stuff for many of us and kind of scary to learn, but it’s not any different for our students. Many of them don’t know the technology either. Fortunately for us, we have the support of our TLP staff to help over the humps and through the learning-curve.

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