How Innovative Technology is Affecting NC State’s Online Courses and Programs ::

This article was written for our sponsor, NC State Online.

As the largest four-year university in the state, North Carolina State University offers a wide range of concentrations and majors. Some of the school’s top programs include engineering, business, agricultural science, education, and computer and information science, among others.

Through online learning, the university is able to make these best programs available to a wider range of students, while ensuring that these online offerings are innovative, accessible and of high quality.

“Even before the pandemic, NC State provided high-quality online programs for our students. In the 2019-2020 academic year, over 3,000 graduate students were enrolled in more than 90 online degree and certificate programs at the university,” said Tim Petty. , Assistant Vice-Rector for Online and Distance Education.

According to Petty, that same academic year just before the pandemic, NC State also offered more than 1,000 online undergraduate courses. Scheduling flexibility for entire programs as well as individual courses has made online learning more appealing.

With growing demand, professors are looking for ways to innovate the online experience.

“There is an ever-increasing demand across the university for interactive online materials that help engage students – that sentiment has grown steadily over the past few years,” said Mike Cuales, Creative Director, new media development at Digital Education and Learning Technology Applications. “When it comes to online learning, these days I feel like it’s almost mandatory to have some level of engagement. NC State started exploring immersive technology early and brought many innovations to the online classroom to engage students in various disciplines.”

NC State offers many specialized online resources. For example, at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, online courses enhanced with virtual and augmented reality technology allow students to virtually tour a working animal feed factory.

“Our virtual reality programs have two different aspects. One is a web-based set of interactive tools that we use, where students can jump and click, move material, things like that,” Adam said. Fahrenholz, associate professor. in CAL. “The other part is what we call augmented reality, where on a screen they can basically pick up a piece of equipment, pick it up, and then be able to spin it around and take a closer look at it since obviously they can’t to be in an institution.”

“These facilities are really noisy places, and they’re kind of enclosed, so they can be hard to get to otherwise,” added Marissa Herchler Cohen, CALS feed safety extension officer and holder of a license. ‘a Ph.D. candidate. “In a real installation, you also can’t open the equipment while it’s running. Part of our goal in creating some of these forms of augmented reality was for students to experience what it’s like to see the interior of the running machine.”

Not only does this type of instruction provide students with the opportunity to gain hands-on experience without physically visiting sites, but it also enhances student engagement and understanding – and further exemplifies NC State’s commitment to programs in line.

“With our courses, we’re breaking up lectures and finding engaging ways to encourage interaction. These technologies we’re talking about make those things possible,” Fahrenholz said.

“When students are in a classroom and have access to a tool like virtual reality, they automatically know that we are striving to create something that exists in the same digital age as the rest of their lives,” said he continued. . “When they see the same technology that they use in their lives inside one of our classrooms, even if it’s a small amount, they know we’re trying to exist in that space and bring them tools of the 21st century.”

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By using a wide range of immersive technologies, the university’s online programs are able to deliver these engaging and innovative experiences to students.

Maria Gallardo-Williams, Ph.D., teaching professor and director of the organic chemistry labs, worked with a team at NC State to develop a whole series of virtual reality-based lab experiments and exercises for students . The lab experience is vital for students who cannot come to campus or cannot attend due to chemical sensitivity.

Gallardo-Williams has made organic chemistry labs available worldwide during the pandemic, and nearly 50 institutions worldwide have adopted the lab environments.

“Online lab experiences have allowed us and 48 other universities around the world to continue teaching organic chemistry labs during the pandemic. Without these resources, our ability to continue our online teaching program would have been severely compromised. Even after we return to in-person lab instruction, we will continue to offer online labs for students who cannot attend in-person labs,” Gallardo-Williams said.

NC State Online continues to lead the digital transformation of teaching and learning for more innovative and accessible student experiences.

This article was written for our sponsor, NC State Online.

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