Wheeler County MOWR Class Utilizes Advanced Technology

With increased numbers of students participating in the state’s Move On When Ready (MOWR) program, local colleges are looking for innovative ways to teach their college-level courses to local high school students.

“At the beginning of the school year we were being asked to teach degree-level classes at the different high schools throughout our service delivery area,” shared Michele Strickland, Dean of Academic Affairs at Oconee Fall Line Technical College (OFTC). “With a limited adjunct instructor pool, we began to look for creative ways to use our current faculty.”

Move on When Ready Students at Wheeler County High School

Move on When Ready Students at Wheeler County High School are taking college-level English classes that utilize a software program which allows them to interact with their instructor through audio and video capabilities.

And that’s what they did. In August, OFTC began teaching English 1101 and 1102 classes at Wheeler County High School through a distance learning program called Collaborate Ultra that incorporates video and audio as main teaching aides.

Every day during one of their high school class periods, the Wheeler County High School MOWR students attend class in the school’s media center where they have access to laptops with audio and video capabilities. An OFTC faculty member, Ina Cooper, attends the high school class each day and serves as a proctor while OFTC Online Instructor, Lauren Poss, teaches from her home in the Atlanta area using the distance-learning software.

“Students are able to log in and see my face, hear my voice, and they have access to the sharing of files in real-time between me and other students,” Poss said speaking of the video, audio and chat interactions she has with students on a daily basis.

Typically, a normal class period looks nearly identical to what one would see in any face-to-face college-level class, Poss shared. “I lecture in real time using the audio and video capabilities of the software and students send me questions via chat in real time, which I am able to smoothly answer as part of the ongoing lecture. We’ve even taken advantage of the ability to split the students into separate groups for class discussion.”

Many of these high school students earned 12 college credit hours that will transfer to other colleges and universities in one semester alone.

Having spent many years teaching both face-to-face and completely online courses at the college level, the distance learning format is “the best of both worlds” Poss shared.

With the current generation of students embracing and relying heavily on technology, this distance-learning format has certainly grabbed their attention and peeked their interest. “They have discussed with me how ‘fun’ the format is and have been eager to get the most they can from the format and have even come up with inventive suggestions concerning how to best utilize the software,” Poss said. “Even when students are out sick, they will often log on from home and remain present and active for discussion.”

Jim Rowland, Wheeler County High School Principal, echoed Poss’s praise of the innovative approach to learning. “In a small school system like ours we have to be creative to ensure that our students are receiving the same opportunities as other students across our state. In the end,” he shared, “it’s about making sure we do what we can to provide for our students the things to help them be successful in their chosen field in our ever changing world.”

The students are able to log into their classroom through a computer and can even access it from home if they’re ever out sick.

In addition to being exposed to college level courses and advanced technology programs which they might encounter again in the traditional college setting, the Wheeler County High School students did exceptionally well balancing their high school classes, college courses, and extracurricular activities, which is no easy task.  Some even took College Algebra and Pre-Calculus in addition to their English classes which were also being offered through OFTC’s MOWR program.

“Many of these MOWR students earned 12 college credit hours this semester alone that will transfer to other colleges,” Strickland said, “and their grades were exceptional.”

To learn more about OFTC’s MOWR program, visit OFTC.edu or contact Robbie Hobbs (South Campus) at rhobbs@oftc.edu or Debbie Price (North Campus) at dprice@oftc.edu.