Monday, November 30, 2015

The Cutting Edge of Tech

If you heard yelps, giggles and gasps emanating from the Ramer Great Hall on Monday, you'll have to forgive the people vocalizing. In all fairness, they were in the midst of being wheeled through a scary hospital, walking around on stage with the band U-2 or interacting with a baby inside a womb. Virtual reality (VR) was on display, along with other emerging technologies, as part of a demonstration by Tennessee Board of Regents tech tester Dr. Robbie Melton. She's traveling the state showing faculty, staff and students the latest technology.

"Any time something new comes out, we get our hands on it, so faculty and staff can see how it could be used for teaching," Melton said to the crowd. Dr. Melton is looking for input as much as inspiration. So, how could a smart Barbie doll be used in the classroom? IT students could learn about hacking such a device, or even better, how to prevent the hacking of a smart Barbie. That's something that parents would certainly appreciate.

"We want faculty to tell us: are these tools, toys or junk?" said Melton.

The students in the audience are eager to try out the virtual reality headsets. There are several different manufacturers and a number of different demonstrations available. The students learn to twist their heads around- because they can see behind, below and above. This makes it possible to spin around to see that U-2 guitar player the Edge is right behind you and he's looking serious. Maybe he's upset that you're standing on his stage?

The big question is how this fun could be used for learning. Melton points out that criminal investigators are starting to use virtual reality for crime scene recording. It will allow them to revisit a crime scene with a depth and clarity that no normal video could provide. VR could provide a virtual a chemistry lab with advanced equipment, too expensive for a college to purchase, giving students experience that they may not otherwise be able to get, and perhaps a safer experience in some instances.

Dr. Melton showed off programmable robots, interactive clothing, many new computer designs. What will pass the tool over toy test is yet to be seen. It's clear that all involved will have a grand time finding out.

Dr. Faulkner: Chain Saw Carving

In a previous entry, I talked about technology as a tool and our opportunity to use this tool to improve student learning.  The message I tried to convey is that technology can be a highly valuable instructional tool when used appropriately.

One of my father’s favorite sayings was, “Use the right tool for the right job.”  As an auto mechanic for most of his adult life, he had a large collection of tools.  Some highly specialized and others more general.  Knowing which would accomplish the task at hand was a skill he developed over years of practice.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that there is room for creativity when it comes to using tools.  I’m intrigued by chain saw art.  Perhaps some would say it isn’t art at all, but I’m fascinated by those that can take a tool designed to cut down trees and use it to create sculpture.  I’m also mystified by those that can engrave a picture on a grain of rice.  A Taiwanese artist Chen Forng-Shean carves amazing works of art on single grains of rice. Certainly you can’t carve a grain of rice with a chainsaw but you also can’t turn a tree stump in to art with the tools Chen Forng-Shean uses.

Two relevant articles recently crossed my desk - one from Campus Technology and the other from NBC News.  Both offer that using a laptop to take notes in class is not the best tool.  The NBC News article cites a study out of Princeton and UCLA that when students take notes on laptops, their “tendency to transcribe lectures verbatim rather than processing information and reframing it in their own words is detrimental to learning.”  In the article from Campus Technology Ronald Yaros, associate professor at the University of Maryland talks about “low digital self-regulation.  That is, if the device is in my hand, I’ll think of a way I can use if for personal reasons, not just for the task at hand.”  So Yaros abandoned laptops in favor of tablets and smartphones.  He goes on to offer that the most effective use of technology is not just in presenting material but in engaging the student in researching, interpreting, writing, posting and discussing.

So the question remains what is the right tool for the right job?  It is easy to resist change by failing to try new things – by using the same old tool when there might be a better one.  Pick up a technology chain saw and try some carving.

Iron Ladle Chili Service Learning Project

David Johnson's English 1020 Service Learning class in Livingston raised 1400 dollars for the Putnam County Adult Literacy Center, the department of the Putnam County School system that does GED prep, with the their Iron Ladle Chili Cook-off project. This is a Cookeville Herald Citizen article with details. 

Vol State in the News

The big news last week was the change in service areas for Vol State and Nashville State. This includes Vol State assuming the full community college role in the future for the Cookeville CHEC campus. It also has Nashville State providing service for northern Davidson County. This is the TBR news release.

Coach Key has a nice write up in the Tennessean. The former Harlem Globetrotter discusses playing and coaching.

The announcement that Johnny Lynn is to be inducted into the Tennessee Community College Athletic Association also made the Tennessean.

You may have seen a story about the postcard received at Vol State radio WVCP-FM a few weeks ago. An individual claimed to be be a murderer and called themselves the "Green Light Killa." There have been no further postcards or contact. We don't know why the person chose to send the postcard to WVCP. It was sent generally to the station, not to a specific individual. Gallatin police have the postcard and are leading an investigation. The story has gone national. We wanted to update you on the status. There have been no new developments in some time.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Johnny Lynn Selected for Hall of Fame

Johnny Lynn has been selected for inclusion in the Tennessee Community College Athletic Association (TCCAA) Hall of Fame. The Vol State Softball Head Coach has been with the college for 25 years. He founded the softball program here and has been coach for 23 years.

"It feels good for the school," Lynn said. "This school has done well with its athletics program. Dr. Ramer, Dr. Nichols and Dr. Faulkner- I've enjoyed being around them and getting to know them. Dean Powell has been here throughout my entire career. If you enjoy who you work for, it's not a job."

Lynn took the softball team to win the Region Seven championship in 2011. The team traveled to Utah for the national tournament.

For Lynn, his coaching was just a continuation of a remarkable athletic career. He was a men's basketball standout in high school and college.

"I graduated from Beech High School in 1984 as an All-American," he said. "I signed with Auburn University and went to the NCAA Basketball Tournament for all four years. We went to the Elite Eight once and the Sweet Sixteen twice."

As for the Vol State softball team this year?

"They're young, very young. They have to get stronger and quicker. This team has a chance. They remind me of the 2011 team. If they can stay together, like the 2011 team did, they might have a remarkable season."

Congratulations to Johnny! The induction ceremony is likely to occur in April at one of the home games.

Karen Mitchell Award

Karen Mitchell, vice president for Resource Development, was honored with the Women Impacting the Community award by the Hendersonville Area Chamber of Commerce. It was presented during a dinner last week. She is shown here with presenter, friend and Vol State assistant VP, Hilary Marabeti. Needless to say, Hilary and Karen look happy with the honor. Hilary was honored with the same award last year. Congratulations to Karen! This awesome photo is by Don Claussen.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Christmas Concerts at Vol State

Vol State students will be performing two evenings of music, song and dance to get people in the holiday spirit. Songs will include Christmas favorites in many musical styles. There will be choreographed performances from the Showstoppers, rock and roll from the Commercial Music Ensemble, blues and jazz classics by the Commercial Jazz Ensemble, and country musical renditions by the Bluegrass Ensemble, Bluegrass Ablaze. The event will show off the wide-ranging talents of more than seventy-five students.

The concert includes a CD release of Vol State student work. This year’s CD will be for sale at the shows on December 4 and 5 in the Wemyss Auditorium in Caudill Hall on the Vol State campus at 1480 Nashville Pike in Gallatin. The show time is 7:30 p.m. each evening. A suggested donation of $5 benefits the Music Department Scholarship Fund. Admission and a copy of the Christmas CD are $10. For more information contact the Office of Humanities at 615-230-3202.

Pictured: The Vol State Showstoppers, led by James Story, perform in the 2014 holiday concert. Photo by Tony Young.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

No Smoking or Vape Anywhere, on any Campus, in 2016

After January 1, 2016, Volunteer State Community College will prohibit the use of tobacco on any campus property for all students, faculty, staff, contractors and visitors. The use of tobacco and vaping (e-cigarette) products will be prohibited in college buildings and on college grounds, including parking areas, walkways and buildings.  This does include any vehicles located on campus property on campus locations in Gallatin, Springfield and Livingston. 

Prohibited products include:

·         Cigarettes
·         Cigars
·         Tobacco Chew or Snuff
·         Clove Cigarettes
·         Electronic Cigarettes (Vaping)
·         And all other products that are smokable substances and/or use tobacco

The tobacco-vape-free policy is a part of Vol State’s commitment to creating a healthy and sustainable environment for all members of our campus community and is designed to be positive and health directed.  Individuals noticing violations of the policy should strive to be non-confrontational and respectful to tobacco or vape users when communicating our policy.  Additionally, tobacco or e-cigarette users are expected to adhere to the policy and likewise be respectful to the remainder of campus.  Enforcement of the policy will be achieved primarily through education, awareness and a spirit of cooperation.

Vol State is not requiring faculty, staff and students to quit using tobacco products; however, we do expect the policy to be followed while on Vol State property, and we are offering support to our students and employees who wish to stop using prohibited products.

For more information and tips on how to stop using tobacco, please visit

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Food Drive for Vol State Students

Many of our students need outside assistance to get by. Each year they are helped by the Christmas for the Kids program with presents and a party. Lately, we have also been doing a food drive for those families.

The Employee Relations Food Drive benefits the families from the Christmas for the Kids program run by the Vol State Student Government Association each year. Once all food drive donations are collected, they are sorted and distributed evenly among the families. We are able to provide food for 16-20 families through the Christmas for Kids program each year.

November 9 – December 2
Non-Perishable Food Items
No Glass Please
v Meals: canned meat, stews, soups, tuna, ravioli, lasagna, spaghetti and meatballs, beefaroni, peanut butter, hamburger healper, jerky, etc.
v Grains: cereal, rice, pasta, dried beans, crackers, tortillas, etc.
v Fruits: canned fruit, fruit cups, dried fruit, applesauce, 100% juice and juice boxes, etc.
v Canned Vegetables: carrots, beans, tomatoes, corn, etc.
v Snack Items: pudding, granola bars, fruit snacks, crackers, pop tarts, etc.
v Dry Goods: flour, seasonings, spices, sugar, bisquick, muffin mix, etc.
v Milk Products: powdered, evaporated, shelf-stable milk
v Toiletries

Locations for Food Drive Boxes
Contact Person
Contact number
Caudill 222
Holly Harvey
Gibson Hall 102
Judy Merritt
Great Hall
Lesa Cross
Mattox 101
Jimmy Hargrove
Ramer 101
Rhonda Custer
Wallace 102
Suzanne Hesson
Warf 100
Gayle DeSalles
Warf 126
Regina Pierpaoli
Wood 217
Penny Tucker
Pickel 128
Lynn Peterson

Monday, November 9, 2015

Dr. Faulkner: Swiss Army Knife

I have long admired but never owned a Swiss Army knife.  The red handles with the iconic white cross always looked sleek but the real attraction was the number of tools contained in one device.  One model boasts containing 34 different implements.  There is even a Swiss Army flash drive available.  For the same reason, I have looked longingly at the Leather Man multi-tools.  “Quality tools for every adventure.”  For the urban adventure, Leather Man now makes a multi-tool bracelet that is both fashionable and functional. 

I did once own a multi-device knife.  It had about 30 implements including a full size fork and spoon.  It was a cheap knock-off and was huge.  In fact it was so large that it required a belt holster because it would not fit in any pocket.

Having the right tool for the job is critical.  My auto mechanic father taught me that.  In education, technology is a tool.  It may be a multi-tool because it can be used in so many different ways, but it is a tool.  Our task is to determine how best to use this tool and to develop the skills to use it most effectively. 

Even a great tool in the hands of a novice can produce a poor result.  My grandfather was an excellent carpenter.  He mostly used hand tools.  He could make a cut perfectly straight and square with a handsaw that I can hardly duplicate with modern power tools.

Students expect us to use technology.  Their lives are full of instances where technology is used effectively.  They interact with each other and with the world via technology.  A recent study conducted by Wakefield Research appeared in Campus Technology magazine. The survey revealed that 56% of students would feel more comfortable being in a digital class than an in-person class and 74% reported that they’d do better in their courses if only their instructors would use more technology.  Also 51% report receiving better grades in online courses and 87% said they use technology to read course materials.  Both numbers reflect substantial increases from previous surveys.

So again, the question is not, “Should we use technology?”  The question is, “How can we use this tool most effectively.”  Trial and error are good but as Franklin said, “Experience keeps a dear school . . .”  A better way to learn is to use the best practices of others.  That’s why module repositories like Merlot are so helpful and that is why Quality Matters is helpful in our quest to use technology most effectively.  These and a multitude of others can help us become more effective in and out of the classroom.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Congrats to Terry

Terry Seals is the new director of Radiologic Technology at Vol State. Previously she was interim director and an associate professor. She has been at Vol State and with the program since 2004.

“I believe that just about every hospital in Middle Tennessee has at least one Vol State graduate working in various areas,” Seals said. Radiologic technology is one of the most competitive programs at Vol State. Students from across the South apply. The program has a 100 percent five-year, in-field, job placement rate for graduates.

“When people go into radiologic technology the options for advancement are many, including specialties in CT, MRI, mammography, interventional, ultrasound, nuclear medicine and radiation therapy,” she said.

Seals holds a Master of Science in Education degree from Walden University in Minneapolis; a certificate in Radiation Oncology from Methodist Hospital in Memphis; and a Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Technology degree from the University of Tennessee Center for the Health Sciences in Memphis.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Chinese Music, Dance and Costumes at Vol State

Music, dance and colorful costumes will come to Volunteer State Community College on November 8 with a performance by the Chinese Music and Dance Troupe from Huang-Gang City, China. The show is sponsored by the Confucius Institute at Middle Tennessee State University and the Chinese Language Council International. The Vol State show will be held at 7:30 p.m. in the Wemyss Auditorium in Caudill Hall.  The show is free and open to the public. The performance is part of the International Education program, bringing global culture and perspective to Vol State students, faculty, staff and the community.

Vol State in the News

Technology is the focus of a new Criminal Justice class starting spring semester. Computer databases and information technology will be a big part of the curriculum. But students will also get hands on experience with other types of technology being used by law enforcement. The Tennessean has the details.

Get Rid of Household Hazardous Waste on Saturday

It’s time to get ready for the annual Household Hazardous Waste Collection Event (HHWCE) sponsored by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, the Resource Authority in Sumner County and Volunteer State Community College. This year the event will be held on Saturday, November 7, 2015 from 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. at Volunteer State Community College. If you are a Tennessee resident you can bring in your household hazardous waste for FREE!  

Any household product that has at least one ingredient in it that is flammable, corrosive, reactive or toxic is considered hazardous and should not be thrown in the regular trash. Many household cleaners, automotive products, lawn care products and home maintenance products are considered hazardous. Waste from non-household sources such as businesses, schools, churches, etc. will not be accepted.  Latex and oil based paints will not be accepted at the event.  Instead, these items can be taken to the Resource Authority in Sumner County during regular business hours. The Resource Authority is located at 625 Rappahannock Wire Road in Gallatin.  For questions regarding the Resource Authority you may call 615-452-1114.