Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Vol State in the News

The THEC designation of Vol State as a VETS campus has made several news outlets recently, including this article in the Lebanon Democrat.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Dr. Faulkner: Monitoring Students

Among the recent sports pages of The Tennessean was an article about monitoring Vanderbilt football players during training.  The new strength coach introduced a technology called Catapult Sports.  It consists of a GPS device smaller than a deck of cards that is inserted in to shoulder pads.  The device records more than 400 variables per second for each player and then sends the data via Bluetooth or satellite to a laptop.  Coaches can get instant access to information on the performance of each athlete.

The same day in the USA Today Sports section, there was an article about the data being collected on each player at the NFL scouting combine.  In addition to 40 yard times and Wonderlic scores, they collected medical history, psychological profiles, functional movement patterns, and nutritional tracking on prospective players.  Each team is looking for an edge in selecting the best persons for their teams. 

The week before these articles, I heard Cleveland State President Emeritus, Dr. Carl Hite talk about how the future of higher education will involve more closely monitoring students.  The analogy was how the health care industry has seen dramatic improvement in patient outcomes by more frequent, and in some cases continuous, monitoring of vital signs.  Education can also see gains in our outcomes by increasing our monitoring of student progress and well-being.

And then the day after these newspaper articles, at a TBR sponsored Academic Completion Academy, a team from VSCC heard about and discussed how we intervene to keep students on track in their Guided Pathway to Success (GPS.)  The key to keeping students on track is . . . . wait for it . . . . monitoring.

In education our monitoring of student success has been mainly quizzes, tests, and graded assignments.  But let’s be honest.  How many graded assignments are given in a semester?  Four?  Six?  How much assessment is summative and how much is formative?  If the first graded assignment is not given and returned until 5 weeks into the semester, then how much monitoring is really going on?  Unfortunately we don’t have a cognitive Catapult device.  And we haven’t perfected the Vulcan mind melt.

To be fair, we are making progress in monitoring students and using the information to affect change.  During the Fall 2014 semester, faculty submitted 1367  First Alerts.  We will assess the effectiveness of First Alerts to determine if it results in positive student outcomes.

But we can and must do more to detect students in trouble and students that are straying off course.  Some may reply that we are, “baby sitting students” or “doing too much hand holding.”  My response is that I would not be where I am today if it were not for influential persons that sat with me and held my hand at critical junctures in my life. 

So during the next months, we will engage in an exploration and dialogue about how we monitor and intervene with students.  This fits right in with what I have been saying for more than two years.  Student Success is Job One!

-Dr. Jerry Faulkner

Sunday, March 1, 2015

A Welcome to our Russian Visitor

The International Education program has been working to establish relationships with educators in Russia. It's not only a timely effort, given the challenges in Russian international relations, but also an important effort, as Russian and American educational systems are different and there is much that can be learned. We have a Russian visitor coming to Vol State this week.

Olga Mukhina is a Specialist of the Office for International Students and Protocol of the International Relations Department of the Baltic Fishing Fleet State Academy of the Kaliningrad State Technical University. Mukhina has been working at the Baltic Fishing fleet State Academy since September 2010. The department is in charge of promoting international relations. The key objectives of the division include promoting and encouraging international scientific and educational cooperation, academic and student mobility, and the academy’s participation in international projects and initiatives. She also provides assistance in planning travel abroad, acts as liaison with overseas contacts, and collects data to prepare reports related to international activities of the Academy.

John Espey started this relationship during his visit to Russia last year. Mukhina will be visiting with classes and programs during her stay at Vol State. You can meet her during a Fulbright Luncheon on Thursday, March 5 on the Gallatin campus in the Nichols Dining Room. There will be an opportunity to visit with Olga beginning at 12:30 P.M. with lunch at 1:15 P.M. RSVP to Jimmy Hargrove by email or phone.  jimmy.hargrove@volstate.edu

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Vol State Events for March

Vol State Events Calendar March 2015 All events are free, unless specified.

Mar. 2                   One Book: The Effects of Hip Hop on Society, Pickel Gym, 9am

Mar. 2                   “Cycling: Lycra Not Required, Pickel 101, 12:15pm

Mar. 2                   Lecture: Was Lindberg a Nazi? by Peter Johnson, Thigpen, 12:20pm

Mar. 3                   Lecture: Race, Slavery & American Values, by Grady Eades & Nancy                   Blomgren, Caudill 102, 11:10am

Mar. 4                   Speaker: Zohra Sawari, Thigpen, 12:30pm

Mar. 5                   Lecture: Intro to Gamification in Education, by Michael Torrence, Thigpen second floor, 2pm, open to faculty, staff and students

Mar. 6                   Chili/Soup for Books, fundraiser- $5 for lunch, Nichols Dining Room, 11:30-1:30pm

Mar. 13                 Free Community Shredding Event, Pickel Field House Parking Lot, 2pm-6pm

Mar. 17                 Lecture: Transcendentalist Communes, by Shellie Michael, Thigpen, 11:10am

Mar. 18                 Coffee with the Prez, Cafeteria, 11am-Noon

Mar. 18                 Honors: Technological Advancements in Sports, by Philip Williams, Thigpen, 12:20pm

Mar. 19                 One Book: Fear of, or Low Expectations of, Young African-American Males, Nichols Dining Room, 12:30pm

Mar. 21                 Sumner County Elementary Art Exhibit, Ramer Great Hall, through April 12

Mar. 24                 Lecture: Hear the Color & See the Rhythm, by Sue Mulcahy & Nancy Slaughter, Thigpen, 11:10am

Mar. 24                 One Book: Final Discussion- What We Have Learned, Thigpen Library, 6pm

Mar. 25                 Supplemental Instruction History Bowl, McKinney students versus Johnson students, Thigpen, 11:15am

Mar. 25                 Women’s History Tea, Nichols Dining Room, RSVP to Student Life, 12:30pm

Mar. 26                 Math and Science Expo, hands-on activities for kids and parents, Wallace Building-North, 2:30-6pm

Mar. 26-28            Nunsense Mega-Musical, comedy, $5 suggested donation, Caudill, 7:30pm

Mar. 28                 Family Day and Easter Egg Hunt, Library Lawn, 10am-Noon

Mar. 29                 Nunsense Mega-Musical, comedy, $5 suggested donation, Caudill, 2:30pm

Mar. 31                 Lecture: Thinking Fast and Slow, by Cynthia Wyatt, Thigpen, 11:10am

Mar. 31                 Belmont Pre-Nursing Advising Session, Warf 110, 12:45pm-2:10pm

Vol State in the News

Several papers have run the Rx TN success story of student Melinda Peery. Here is the latest, in the Lebanon Democrat.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Vol State to Offer College Classes in Cookeville

A new higher education center in Cookeville will soon make it easier for students to earn job training and college degrees in the Upper Cumberland.

Tennessee Tech University, Nashville State Community College, and Volunteer State Community College are joining forces to expand higher education programs and transform the way education is offered to the region by becoming partners in a learning center.

“We are so pleased to be a part of the endeavor to provide access to higher education at this location in Cookeville," Vol State president, Dr. Jerry Faulkner said. "We look forward to continuing the high standards of education that have been a hallmark of our service to the Upper Cumberland.  The new facility in Cookeville, paired with our continuing presence in Livingston, will give us an opportunity to provide even more for the residents of the area.”

It will also provide more opportunities for students in the region to take advantage of the Tennessee Promise, a last-dollar scholarship available to Tennessee high school graduates to cover the cost of tuition at a community or technical college or other eligible institution offering an associate degree program.

The Nashville State Cookeville campus located at 1000 Neal Street will become a Tennessee Board of Regents college and training center on July 1.

Offerings at the center will expand to include courses and programs through Vol State and TTU beginning this fall, and Tennessee College of Applied Technology programs may be added later. The Tennessee Board of Regents is the state university and community college system, governing six universities (including TTU), all 13 of the community colleges and the 27 colleges of applied technology across Tennessee.

“The demand is here for a broader range of options, and we are fortunate to have several excellent institutions eager to serve the needs of this community,” said TBR Chancellor John Morgan. “This collaborative arrangement allows us to be flexible and responsive to the citizens and employers of the region, to help students reach their post-secondary education goals, and to enhance the skilled workforce available.”

The institutions will work collaboratively at the site to provide a higher education center for learning that includes academic programs that meet the needs of the community, Morgan stressed. The center can help move students from K-12 through a two-year program, four-year degree, and on to graduate level work. The cooperative effort will allow for efficient management, shared resources and a mutually beneficial arrangement.

“The Tennessee Board of Regents is uniquely situated to facilitate this type of center for the people of our Upper Cumberland Region,” said Johnny Stites, a member of the Board of Regents and CEO of J&S Construction in Cookeville. “I’m pleased that it will help address student demand and at the same time provide support for the workforce needs of our local businesses and industries and more opportunities for local students to take advantage of the Tennessee Promise.”

The center will provide the teaching location, but students will still apply for admission to the college or university through which their program of study is offered. Each institution will offer all the necessary course work for students to complete their intended degrees at the center or within the city limits of Cookeville. Current Nashville State students will be able to complete the programs in which they are enrolled.

An advisory committee comprised of representatives from the institutions and community will provide expertise and oversight for the center. Management and operations will become the responsibility of TTU, including administrative and support staffing, facility maintenance, bookstore and food services, accounting and financial reporting, and library resources. Costs for operating the facilities will be assessed to the institutions and based on credit hours taught.

More information about the list of programs and courses offered this fall will be provided later.

Pictured left to right: Dr. Claire Stinson, TTU, Dr. George Van Allen, Nashville State, Dr. Phillip Oldham, TTU, Dr. Jerry Faulkner, Vol State, and Becky Hull, Nashville State.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Dr. Faulkner: Information Overload

I recently read an article titled “Mindful Leadership and Navigating the Seas of Change in the Information Age” by J.W. Misner (2014).  The article explores the current state of information overload in which we live and the impacts on our attention.  The article uses the analogy that we are no longer “drinking from a fire hose,” but also forced to choose which fire hose from among many.

The article presents some startling statistics:

·    -The amount of information projected to be created by all of humanity during the year 2010 is a zettabyte.  Expressed numerically that is 1 followed by 21 zeroes. (Blair, 2010)
     -The amount of information previously created by humanity was five exabytes or 5/1000ths of a zettabyte. (Rieland, 2012)

The author offers that the abundance of information results in a competition for our attention. He quotes from a pre-Internet article by Simon (1971).

“. . . in an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else;  a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes.  What information consumes is rather obvious; it consumes the attention of its recipients.  Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate the attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it.”

Meisner proposes that the overload of information and the constant competition causes hyperstress which manifests as “a sense of alarm, elevated heart rate and blood pressure, heavier breathing, tense skeletal muscles, etc.”  He goes on to assert that “users gravitate toward the most palpable information, which is analogous to mindlessly eating dessert for every meal.”  Although I’ve been known to eat dessert first, a constant diet is definitely not a healthy habit.

The author proposes a remedy would be to become more conscious of our information consumption.  He suggests that for one week, we should inventory our sources and consumption habits.

I would add one more suggestion.  Periodically go “off-line.”  Unplug from the information fire hose for a few hours.  A full day would be even better.  We could all use a little less stress in our lives.

-Dr. Jerry Faulkner
Blair, A.  (2010)  Information Overload, Then and Now.  Retrieved from http://chronicle.com/article/Information-Overload-Then-and/125479/
Misner, J. W. (2014), Mindful Leadership and Navigating the Seas of Change in the Information Age. Journal of Leadership Studies, 8: 46–50.
Rieland, R. (2012) Big Data or Too Much Information? Retrieved from http://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/big-data-or-too-much-information-82491666/
Simon, H.A. (1971) Designing Organizations for an Information Rich World. In M. Greenberger (Ed.) Computers, Communication, and the Public Interest (pp. 40-41). Baltimore, MD; The Johns Hopkins Press.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Vol State in the News

Congrats to everyone who works with student veterans. Vol State was just designated a VETS Campus by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. The designation means that Vol State has many measures in place to help veterans. Here is a story in the Tennessean.

Congrats to Travis Ford and the Fire Science Program at Vol State. Travis was recently named one of the top 13 instructors for Fire Science in the Southeast by Firescience.org.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Students speak out about Digital Media

There is one topic that can get students talking these days: digital media. It’s the primary form of communication for many, but don’t think that means that everyone in the younger generations accept digital media growth without question. Merritt McKinney and the Honors Program recently held a student discussion panel on the subject, organized and hosted by Shannon Lynch and Melissa Fox. It’s familiar ground for the two faculty members. They have taught Digital Media and Ethics classes.

They covered a number of topics in the panel.

Does living in a close-knit digital world of friends keep your opinions confined to their views?

“If you have a fairly diverse friends list you’re going to be exposed to many different opinions,” said Honey Rae Swan of Westmoreland.

“I see digital media as a tool for non-conformity,” said Michael Clark of Hendersonville. “You can investigate these niches and books, even though none of the people around you are interested in them.”

How about face-to-face communication versus texting?

“It’s a lot easier for me to communicate with someone via text message or email, because I can write it down and express myself better,” said student panelist Timothy McCall of Hendersonville.

Students in the audience wondered if digital communication could hurt people with social anxieties, by providing them with methods to avoid their fear.

Another issue was digital awareness. How well do students understand the digital world as it relates to reliable information and safety? None of the students on the panel or in the audience of about 50 students raised their hand to say that they had digital research or safety training in secondary school.

And finally, a subject near and dear to many faculty members: the use of digital-style English in writing.

“There’s going to be a time when our language is more technology based and what we speak now is the old English,” said McCall.

“There’s a difference between the way we speak and the way we write. We might circle back to symbols some day in how we write, but our speaking language may stay the same,” said Elena Cruth of Hendersonville.

Merritt McKinney was quick to chime in with a faculty perspective: “I think there is something to having a level of professionalism with your teacher,” he said.

When the audience was asked if the line between informality and professionalism is going away, most students nodded yes.

“It’s creating a new professionalism and the boundaries are being rewritten,” said Adam Parks of White House.

Vol State in the News

The Rx TN grant program at Vol State is in the news, with the story of an amazing graduate. Melinda Peery is homeless and working to turn her life around. She just completed three Rx TN medical skills courses and has been hired by a local medical office. The Hendersonville Standard has the story.