Prince George's Community College (PGCC), established in 1958, offers more than 1,400 courses every semester and over 30 programs of study including career programs that prepare students for immediate entry into the work force and transfer programs that provide the first two years of study towards a bachelor's degree. The college also offers programs leading to a one-year certificate or a letter of recognition. Over 35,000 students attend annually; half take credit and half take continuing education courses. The college serves a student body that is 85% minority, so it is well acquainted with the challenges of reaching disadvantaged students. With 18% of the students foreign-born, the college personnel serve a widely diverse group of students.
Distance Education at PGCC
PGCC will be offering over 90 courses online in the Spring 2002 semester, pending state higher education approval will offer 6 online associate degree and 4 online certificate programs in 2002.
Faculty Online Training
PGCC's Director of Distance Learning (DL) was project director for a statewide train-the-trainer program that taught faculty from 23 colleges and university in Maryland, including all 16 community colleges, how to teach online and how to teach their peers to teach online. This included pedagogy, how to use DL online platforms, and how to create online materials. The college created the award-winning "Online Express" training program to train its own faculty and has developed an assessment plan for evaluating online materials and courses. This program could be replicated in other countries. As an added asset, one of PGCC's Online Express instructors is fluent in French. The college is now the lead institution in a statewide project searching the web to find interactive resources by discipline and creating learning activities to accompany these interactive resources. The final product, an online library of these resources, will allow instructors of a particular discipline to search the library and easily find pre-created modules and learning activities that can integrated into their classes.
Integration of Technology into Teaching: PGCC promotes the improvement of teaching, particularly in the sciences and mathematics, by developing high quality programs that teach county schoolteachers and faculty to integrate technology in their courses. Course modules and interactive Information Technology (IT) activities have been developed through the funding of numerous state and federal grants and through expertise provided by IT professionals in the college's Faculty Teaching and Learning Center.
The college has been involved in distance education for over 20 years and has been provided distance learning and IT training internationally since 1994. A brief summary of this experience which highlights the types of distance learning and IT training PGCC can provide follows:
PGCC conducted DL Summer Institutes for visiting faculty and administrators from the Philippine Women's University in 1994-1995 and conducted a week-long workshop in Manila in 1997.
As a byproduct of an ongoing exchange program with the Tietgen Skolen Odense Business College, PGCC faculty provided faculty distance learning training at Tietgen Skolen.
Subcontracted by the University of Maryland with a major USAID grant (1995-1999), PGCC personnel were responsible for the establishment of a DL program at the University of Lodz. Efforts included the design and procurement of equipment for a videoconferencing center and two computer labs; the initialization of the use of the videoconferencing facility for delivering classes from the University of Maryland to Lodz. PGCC personnel helped in the development of a post-graduate certificate program in distance learning at Lodz and continue to serve as lecturers and advisors for that program.
PGCC has had two grants and one contract for IT training activities in South Africa. 1) Funded by ALO/AACC with USAID money (1998-2001), PGCC and its partners (College of Southern Maryland, Garrett Community College, PBS, and Africare) provided faculty training in distance learning techniques for computer science faculty at Vista University in South Africa. Vista faculty were trained in DL methodologies and technologies, and developed an End-User Computing course which has been taken in DL mode by approximately 700 students. The grant also funded IT internships for Vista students. 2) Funded by ALO with USAID money, Vista computer science faculty are providing computer literacy training to South African primary and secondary school teachers. While the target was to train 840 teachers in 3 semesters, the program has already trained over 1400 in two semesters. Profits earned through the low tuition program are being used to buy IT equipment for Vista. PGCC faculty trained a Vista history professor and a Vista computer science professor to create and deliver an online History of South Africa course which is currently being taken by Maryland college students through the Maryland Online Distance Learning consortium. 3) PGCC faculty secured a contract to provide a computer lab, server, and digital projector for Vista University.
In 1999, PGCC personnel conducted a week-long workshop in distance learning technologies and pedagogy for faculty and administrators from throughout Ethopia.
PGCC is an active participant in the partnership agreement between the University of Maryland and the National University of Rwanda, funded by USAID. PGCC has taken a leadership role in the distance learning and computer science components of this project. The DL component focuses on teacher training in the NUR's Faculty of Education. PGCC personnel have introduced DL technologies into the NUR, conducted workshops in Rwanda, designed courses and facilities for the NUR, helped in the development of DL modules for teaching science subjects, and hosted visiting NUR faculty at the PGCC Summer Science Institutes. The computer science component also involves distance learning and instructional technology. College personnel have taught a C++ course (partially face-to-face and partially through a Blackboard website and email). The C++ course was videotaped, for subsequent use in a DL mode - the films will be shown in Rwanda, while the course instructor in the US provides electronic interaction. The college's Computer Literacy telecourse (videos and handouts) is being delivered to the NUR for use either in its own face-to-face classes or for use as a TV course. A database class was videotaped and is supplemented by face-to-face instruction in Rwanda.
African Virtual University
PGCC faculty members have taught for AVU, delivering live television courses in computer programming and business topics to students in various African countries.
International Community College Institute
PGCC will provide short or long-term workshops and training for those who wish to develop a community college type of institution in their home country. Training will include job shadowing for positions such as the president/chancellor, vice-president of Instruction, Chief of Information Systems, Director of Instructional Technology, and Director of Distance Learning. The college will work with individuals or teams of individuals to develop a plan for the community college concept at home. Training will be followed by a period of online mentoring while individuals implement their plans in addition to an on-site evaluation visit by their PGCC mentors.