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RCCC named one of Top Ten Digital Community Colleges

SALISBURY — Rowan-Cabarrus Community College was recently named one of the 2016-17 Top 10 Digital Community Colleges by the Center for Digital Education.

All community colleges in the United States are eligible for the recognition. Rowan-Cabarrus was recognized for its work on mobile technology, smart classrooms and technology innovation.

“We are honored and proud to not only have made the prestigious list of honorees but to have improved our standing from sixth to fourth place,” said college President Carol S. Spalding.

Rowan-Cabarrus offers online tutoring for students in many subjects 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Now in its 12th year, the Digital Community Colleges Survey analyzes how community colleges use a range of technologies to improve services to students, faculty, staff and the community.

“This year’s survey indicates community colleges are continuing to improve efforts at creating cost-effective platforms and open education resources, mobile environments, real-time resources, telepresence robots and more to create robust online and mobile environments for their students,” said Kecia Ray, executive director of the Center for Digital Education.

This year’s Digital Community Colleges Survey also revealed insights about community colleges’ technology priorities. Colleges surveyed indicated that mobility devices/app support is their top priority in the coming year, followed by website redesign/updates, cybersecurity tools and testing, and digital content and curriculum.

Rowan-Cabarrus was among those in the process of undergoing a web redesign, a collegewide project designed to improve the college’s ability to serve prospective and current students. The redesign is complete and available for use.

“The college understands the importance of digital offerings. We will continue to listen to our students and provide the technological options they are seeking for their education,” said Spalding. “Although we have come a long way, we continue to work and enhance the services and system we provide to students.”

For example, the college rolled out a new feature on the student registration system that allows students to plan their academic path to graduation online. This planning helps improve their ability to forecast the classes they need to take each term and how close they are to achieving their degree, diploma or certificate. Additionally, students’ itemized tuition bills are now accessible through the same platform.

The college also supports a “bring your own device” approach to technology on campus and supports students, faculty and staff with the college’s information technology help desk. Rowan-Cabarrus has created a stable, secure wireless network that allows students, faculty and staff to be able to connect to network resources using not only college-owned devices but personal devices like smartphones, tablets or laptops.

“We not only support enhanced websites, new online planning systems, mobile technology, campuswide wireless access, as well as many other tools, but we tie all of these items together to create a cohesive personalized and contextual experience for our students,” said Ken Ingle, chief officer of information services for the college. “This experience simplifies technology for our users allowing students to focus on their educational goals. We believe this is really what sets us apart from others who entered.”

The Rowan-Cabarrus mobile app allows students to view their course load along with detailed descriptions of each class, check their final grades on the go, access Blackboard and even get personalized notifications regarding any holds on their student account.

The college is also continuing efforts in the ever-expanding courses offered via distance education.

“A recent study indicated that distance education enrollments account for nearly all recent student growth at two-year institutions and we want to be sure we are offering courses in the methods our students want. But from the information technology side of things, we also want to make sure those offerings are supported with the right kinds of technology and customer service resources,” said Ingle.

The college also offers many degree options that can be obtained completely online, including the transferable associate in arts and associate in science degree options. In addition, dozens of diplomas and certifications are available online.

Other digital initiatives include introducing online textbooks to many of the college’s core and elective classes, online job preparation and searching resources, social media and electronic emergency notifications systems.

The Center for Digital Education is a national research and advisory institute specializing in K-12 and higher education technology trends, policy and funding. The center provides education and industry leaders with decision support and insights to help incorporate new technologies.

For more information about Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, visit www.rccc.edu/apply2017 or call 704-216-7222.

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