Pearl River Community College, with three locations across Mississippi, is committed to offering quality educational experiences to their community, many of whom are first-generation college students. Part of that commitment means looking for better and more effective ways to deliver instruction and develop knowledge than traditional means. Kira Arthurs, Instructor of Sociology and eLearning Committee member at PRCC, has long wanted a solution that works better for her students than the traditional textbook format—and that’s what first caught her eye about Cerego.

The problem

“I know for me, one of the biggest draws [to Cerego] is that my students don’t read textbooks,” Arthurs explains. “Also, right now with social distancing, a lot of people are recording lectures, but that can be really tedious for students to just sit and listen to. For me, I’d rather have the information in Cerego, and have the students engage with the material in a gamified format, where it’s more exciting, and in one place (instead of having to go through an LMS, and then YouTube, etc.).”

Another issue facing students, especially in a climate of social distancing, is that in the rush to online learning, they can feel like they don’t know where to start.

“My students have been really overwhelmed,” Arthurs says. “They’ve gone from going to class, where the information is laid out for them in pieces or sections, to having all of it effectively presented at once.”

Creating a solution that keeps students coming back

“If I can have them participate in Cerego, one, it’s gamified—it’s fun; two, they’re still getting the information that they need, even though they’re not spending more than about 15 minutes at a time; and three, they’re constantly reviewing the materials, even if they aren’t opening up the textbook.” 

That short-and-often pattern of study has not only proven to be a more effective method for learning new information, but also fits into a busy schedule—many community college students are managing a lot of priorities, whether it be work or family obligations, that make more traditional educational approaches less viable.  

“When they do need to review something, then they get a notification via their mobile device,” says Arthurs. “That was a big draw for me. 

“I think Cerego will be a huge boost for online learning.” 

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The future of e-learning and educational opportunity

Arthurs recently gave a presentation on educational learning technology at a conference, where she spoke with other instructors and professors about challenges they were facing as they moved to a remote learning environment. 

“One professor I spoke to told me that she feels Cerego would be a great way to measure student learning objectives [SLOs], to track performance from the beginning of the semester to the end looking at certain indicators,” recalls Arthurs. “That would be a good way to apply it to, as someone else suggested, a nursing context—the person in charge of learning and development for a nursing program could develop a course, and then all of the instructors could use it in their classes and get real-time updates in terms of how their students are progressing, and what areas they need to improve.” 

In other words, replacing the one-time assessment with a consistent and regularly updated picture of how students are progressing with the material. Not only that, but consistent review helps to build long-term retention for subject matter that people will need throughout their careers.

 

Kira Arthurs, PRCC

“If I can have them participate in Cerego, one, it’s gamified—it’s fun; two, they’re still getting the information that they need, even though they’re not spending more than about 15 minutes at a time; and three, they’re constantly reviewing the materials, even if they aren’t opening up the textbook.”
- Kira Arthurs, Instructor of Sociology, Pearl River Community College

 

“For example, there are classes, again thinking about nursing, that people have to take where they’re always going to need the knowledge as a base—like biology, or A&P. They’re going to have to know that stuff well into their career. So, because Cerego lets you review that information—and reminds you to review it at the best time for each student [based on Cerego’s machine learning and analysis of historical performance]—then you can always review and strengthen your knowledge in areas where you might need to build it back up. Since students have access to Cerego indefinitely, they can continue to benefit from it and build the strength of their memories well after they finish their courses.” 

That’s something that will continue to be valuable, whether in a distance-learning environment or not.

“After this pandemic is over, I think we’re going to go back into the classroom, but I think technology is definitely going to be a bigger part of learning, because we’re forced into being more comfortable with it. There are instructors who are really hesitant to use online tools, but right now, they have no choice. So, I think maybe they’re going to see that hey, maybe it’s not so difficult. And the same goes for the students. It’s definitely going to be a bigger part of learning, and in face-to-face courses as well.”

And for that reason, one of the biggest value adds about Cerego for Arthurs are the easy authoring tools. “The ease of being able to put information into Cerego, and customize it—that is my favorite part.”

So, in light of all this how does Arthurs envision the future of learning online? Does it start to indicate a more equitable and accessible kind of educational experience?

“It would be nice if it did—I mean, it wouldn’t be any different [in those respects] from online learning right now, except that maybe we would finally do online learning better. And hopefully, with the difficulties we are seeing with access right now, it would mean giving better access to all students, both offline and online.”

Thanks very much to Kira Arthurs for the interview! Arthurs earned Teacher of the Year honors at PRCC in 2019. 

Images courtesy of PRCC and Kira Arthurs. Learn more about PRCC through their official websiteYou can try Cerego for free for 30 days—no strings attached. Sign up for your free 30-day trial here