Issue 428: 7 / 24 / 2012

2012 Summer Institute Promotes Healthy Technology

The annually scheduled Summer Institute ...

The annually scheduled Summer Institute is generally a time for faculty development with peer-to-peer seminars.

Southwest implemented the Fitness and Wellness Program in 2010 and has available 24-hour fitness facilities at the Macon Cove and Union Avenue campuses. Building on the enthusiasm for fitness and health, the theme for the 2012 Summer Institute, held June 14-15, was Healthy Technology. “The reason I chose that theme is because it is different and relates to health. I see that Southwest is promoting health throughout the campus community. So I thought we’d focus on health issues,” explained the Coordinator for the Summer Institute Kim Perry and specialist for Distance Education. "I had Health Awareness Facilitator Susan Payne come out to discuss some of the Women Coalition issues regarding health. ... All the meals from breakfast through lunch focused on health. You notice, we have a lot of fruit; no unhealthy beverages. I tried to make sure everything that I did reflected the health theme,” said Perry.

As many as 63 sessions were offered with topics such as: Set Your Heart on Health, Classroom Management, Handling Conflict in Global Teens, Teaching Methods to Captivate Your Students, and The fifth Dimension to Customer Service, etc. Sessions were taught by Southwest faculty. "They brought a wealth of knowledge to share with their own colleagues and others. To show them some best practices and some really successful principles that they've applied in their classrooms,” said Coordinator for Academic Administration/Articulation and Transfer Programs Brenda Smith. “The responses were overwhelmingly positive. The question is ‘What are you going to do next year,"’ she added.

The annual Summer Institute is a time for not only Southwest faculty but others to sharpen their tools for the upcoming year. Laura Damm, QEP assessment coordinator/trainer for East Mississippi Community College, near Starkville, Mississippi, attended because she heard Southwest Assistant Professor of  Business and Legal Studies Joan McGrory's presentation on the automated Student Learning Outcomes (SLO) process at the Mississippi Association of Institutional Research (MAIR). Damm wanted to learn more. “Anything that can make my job easier or make the job easier for the faculty, I'm very interested in learning about,” said Damm.

Also attending the institute was Jenny Cockrill, director of Academic Enhancement from Belhaven University in Jackson, Mississippi. Her manager attended the MAIR conference, too, and wanted Cockrill to attend the summer institute to learn more about Southwest’s SLO process. Cockrill also sat in on a session on International Studies.

Additionally, Dr. McGrory facilitated a session about inserting YouTube videos into quizzes "To have more of an engaging and interactive assessment of critical thinking, as well as demonstration of tactics." She continued, "It was well received and we had a lot of fun. I am just really encouraged by all of the knowledge that's here today. ... I started a pilot this summer in class. I use it for attendance reporting and to ask students if they had gotten their textbooks yet. It allowed me to hold up my textbook and to actually show it so that they knew that they had the right one.”

McGrory is hopeful that YouTube video integration will have a positive impact on student retention here at Southwest. “It lends a human touch. Just this morning, I stopped by the Starbucks and had a young man walk up to me to say, ‘Hello Dr. McGrory,’ and started talking to me. I had no clue who he was because he was an online student. He’d seen me [via video] and felt a connection that was strong enough to come up and start talking. So I think a lot of times, it’s these things that are not so tangible that make the whole package,” said McGrory.

Southwest has a major focus on student success. Lisa Henriksen, coordinator for Academic Web Services, provided some insight. “We have many sessions that are specifically designed for student success. Even outside of the sessions that have student success in their titles, such as Financial Aid FAQ’s, they're [faculty are] learning so much about how to answer those questions and how to help the student overcome the hurdles that keep them from getting into the classes in the first place. Being able to answer the basic questions the students ask them – that’s the most important thing,” Henriksen explained.

View more 2012 Summer Institute photos.