TNCC Educators Receive Chancellor’s Award for Podcasting Initiative that Enhances Learning

Published: April 28, 2008

A team of Thomas Nelson Community College (TNCC) faculty and staff received a Virginia Community College System (VCCS) Chancellor’s Technology in Education Award at this year’s New Horizons Conference. Former VCCS Chancellor Arnold Oliver and the VCCS New Horizons Conference Committee established the annual awards program in 2000 to acknowledge excellence in the use, adaptation, and development of technology that enhances teaching, learning, and working environments in the system’s 23 colleges across the state.

The TNCC group won top honors in the creation and/or best use of shared learning content category for its recently launched podcasting initiative. TNCC is first in the VCCS to initiate such technology.

“It’s great to be recognized by our peers for something that we as educators enjoy doing. Discovering creative ways to marry technology and education makes perfect sense because innovation is vital to keeping our students engaged in learning today. At TNCC we want to stay on the cutting edge in this arena,” said Ruth Smith, Director of Distance and Distributive Learning for TNCC and its lead presenter during the April 9 conference.

Smith explained that podcasts are digital media files that deliver audio and video content over the Internet. “These files are typically audio files but can be enhanced to include still images, PowerPoint presentations and video,” she said.

Offering additional study tools to supplement students’ face-to-face and online classes, podcasts can be downloaded and played back on portable media players, personal computers, and even some cell phones.

TNCC shares its podcasts through iTunes U, a service of Apple® provided to colleges and universities nationwide that gives students 24-hour access to educational content seven days a week. To access iTunes U @ TNCC, students must have the current version of iTunes. More in-depth details are available on the iTunes @ TNCC website,

Several students experienced the technology firsthand during an April 15 Philosophy/Religion class at TNCC by podcasting an assignment that involved presenting views on a real-world issue. In their podcasts, students shared a mixture of content speaking from statements they’d written, offering short videos about the topic, and/or providing other audio/visual content to communicate their messages. A first-time user, Nursing major Joanna Noble was excited about participating.

“I think this is excellent … a good concept. It’s great to be able to go online and look over material that’s created right here at TNCC … something that is specific to classes I’m taking that can help me review. This will help a lot of students,” said Noble, a Newport News resident.

Brenda Allen, Philosophy/Religion Instructor and part of the College’s TIE award-winning team, agreed saying this tool is “highly beneficial” because it maximizes the faculty’s and staff’s ability to share an array of information in many academic and College operations areas.

“I am so pleased that we can provide our students with yet another medium for studying and learning. I actually have five groups presenting for this assignment and I told them that the product they’ve created not only helps others, it gives them a measurable way to cite their classroom participation to potential employers, four-year colleges to which they might transfer or in other types of interviews. This is really exciting for us especially given that most students today are so advanced in the application of technology,” said Allen.


Jan Klingberg, TNCC’s Senior Instructional Designer said the College initiated its podcasting technology in three phases beginning last fall with a pilot group of faculty members who created and posted content for student use. Phase I included audio only; Phase II incorporated both audio and video content and Phase III included enhanced podcasts ? audio files with accompanying still images, chapter marks and other contextual information. To date, roughly 20 faculty members are podcasting at TNCC while more are set to undergo training later this year.

“Going forward we are trying to involve not only additional faculty but staff from other offices as well to create a broad range of information to share,” said Klingberg, noting that since bringing its podcasts online, TNCC has been assisting others in the VCCS with launching the initiative.

“We share our instructional documentation, file compression information and other best practices with all of our VCCS colleagues across the state through a Blackboard podcasting organization. We have opened discussion boards that allow faculty participating in the pilot to maintain continual dialog,” she added.

Through the podcasting initiative, TNCC aims to create a multi-disciplinary library of multimedia supplemental educational resources. Among these are recordings of face-to-face course lectures, supplemental faculty-authored content and information to highlight programs, new initiatives, and relevant TNCC events. Additionally, participating faculty members established their individual goals for the endeavor.

In addition to Smith, Klingberg and Allen, others on the award-winning team include: Instructor of Mathematics Libby Arnesen; Instructor of Engineering and Department Head Arthur Billingsley; Associate Professor of English Dawn Hayden; Assistant Professor of Foreign Language Alicia Lowery; Web Services Project Manager David Morales; Apple® Platform Administrator Apple Jacqueline Smith; Instructor of Music and Department Head Michael Sundblad and Associate Professor of Biology Martin Zahn.

Prior to earning VCCS recognition this year, several members of the group gave a presentation on TNCC’s podcasting venture last November in Tennessee during the League for Innovation’s Annual Conference on Information Technology (CIT). Educators from across the nation convened for the CIT exposition which highlighted the “intelligent application of information technology in community and technical colleges.”

Photo: VCCS Chancellor Dr. Glenn DuBois (second from left) is pictured with TIE Award winners from Thomas Nelson during the 2008 New Horizons Conference.

Release #08-0428

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