Dean Rodriguez guides online learning in Virtual Campus

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Dean Rodriguez guides online learning in Virtual Campus

Dean Rodriguez hopes to grow online enrollments in our region.

Dean Rodriguez hopes to grow online enrollments in our region.

Andrew Cardone

Dean Rodriguez hopes to grow online enrollments in our region.

Andrew Cardone

Andrew Cardone

Dean Rodriguez hopes to grow online enrollments in our region.

Kumar Simms and Marissa Wiesenbach

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CCAC continues to grow in the 21st century by creating a “virtual” campus to complement North, South, Boyce, and Allegheny Campuses. Guiding this transition is Millie Rodriguez, who is serving as the college’s first Dean of the Virtual Campus.

Dean Rodriguez says, “The virtual campus was created to centralize the online presence at the college and it will allow for some directed resources to grow our offerings and our support for students and faculty.”

With the help of her colleagues, Dean Rodriguez is working hard to establish the virtual campus, meant to further formalize online learning as an important component of CCAC. She hopes to provide a great resource for both faculty and staff, and she plans to grow online enrollments.

“We are working hard to establish a campus that can be a great resource for faculty teaching online and for students taking online courses,” she says.

This past semester approximately 5,700 students took online classes, and Dean Rodriguez expects this number to grow. In the upcoming months, she will continue to work with her colleagues to create more opportunities for online students.

Dean Rodriguez says, “I want to grow our online enrollments by offering courses that meet the demands of the region, and I want our virtual campus team to help faculty develop state-of-the-art courses for our students.”

Currently, Dean Rodriguez is working closely with all CCAC campuses to establish the virtual campus and develop its presence. She says, “We are working with all the campuses and departments to help guide the way the virtual campus will look moving forward.”

As the virtual campus develops, Dean Rodriguez is looking to expand the educational resources and training opportunities available to students and faculty.

Dean Rodriguez says, “I want to expand the services available to online students so they can get what they need without coming to campus.”

Presently, the virtual campus uses Blackboard – an online learning management system – to conduct online courses. There, students can communicate with their professors, view course documents, and submit homework assignments.

In addition, the virtual campus is using other technology such Zoom Video Conferencing, which allows students and faculty to communicate with one another from a distance.

According to Dean Rodriguez, students have access to these technologies for as long as they are enrolled. In addition, they will have access to other specialized software if it is used in their online courses.

Like all college courses, courses within the virtual campus are interactive and engaging.

Dean Rodriguez says, “The courses offered through the virtual campus are unique as active learning environments are. Everyone partaking in online courses must be an active learner and participate.”
Ultimately, online courses are different from face-to-face courses because online courses require active participation. In an online course, students cannot sit in the back of the classroom and simply consume knowledge.

“In the online environment you will be required to interact and that sometimes leads to some very robust learning. It allows students to hear thoughts and opinions from each person in the course.”
This past November, Dean Rodriguez started at CCAC. Prior, she wokred at Youngstown State University, California University of Pennsylvania, and University of Maryland University College (UMUC).

She says,“I have been working in Distance Education since 2002. It is really my passion. I love creating departments that provide world-class service to our online learners and our online faculty. This opportunity seemed to afford me the ability to do just that, so I was drawn to it when I read the job description. I also really see the value of a community college education. I put myself through school and if I had it to do over again, I likely would have went to community college first…”