Please note: This was published over a year ago. Phone numbers, email addresses and other information may have changed.
She’s making the right connections
Photos and Story by James Hill
Students really feel connected in Early Education and Family Studies instructor Linda Jones’ classes.
Jones teaches her Child Development and Family Partnerships classes via the PCC’s Interactive Television (ITV) resource. The classroom she teaches in may be at the Sylvania Campus in southwest Portland but groups of students also connect with her through closed circuit at locations at Rock Creek and Cascade campuses as well as the Southeast Center. The department typically teaches 2-3 classes per term in this distance learning format.
From a teaching perspective Jones says, "We really get a lot of support (from ITV). It’s very easy. You as an instructor don’t have to be very literate on the equipment because ITV support staff are pushing all of the buttons behind the scenes. One thing, you must have all of your stuff done at the beginning of the term. You just can’t go in and wing things. You have to be organized. It does take more time than regular classes, but the benefit is amazing for other faculty and students."
For students new to Interactive Television, there may be concerns about connecting with the instructor and fellow students but, for many, ITV makes attending classes possible. Instead of having to cross town for class, students attend the course at the nearest satellite location. This flexibility reduces commute time and makes it easier for students who work full time. Along with broadcasting to groups around the district, Jones’ courses are also accessible to cable viewers as a telecourse.
"Linda is a wonderful example of how teachers are using technology to enrich the educational opportunities available in the community," said Lynn Reese, ITV coordinator. "Her students consistently praise her teaching style and love her class."
Jones’ teaching style keeps students connected. Classes start with an essay assignment, called a Quick Write, about a personal experience related to the topic of the night. She ensures students feel connected with each other through the closed circuit television and small group activities encourage relationship building during class. She also encourages them to bring food and at the end of every term they have a potluck dinner to have everyone meet personally. In this way Jones and her students grow an internal support system.
Jones has taught at the college for more than 12 years. She had been a Catholic nun and taught in a convent. After she left the convent she got married and was teaching kindergarten when an instructor position opened at PCC. Like her students, Jones was encouraged to utilize technology for educational purposes.
"I had never been interviewed in my life," she said. "When PCC called I immediately went to the library to get a video on how to be interviewed. A door of opportunity was opening that I had never thought would be possible for me."
Now, Jones is gearing up for another term of her ITV early childhood education classes. She is a seasoned pro at the art of teaching from one site to students at many other sites across the PCC district. Despite not being together personally, she makes sure her students all connect in more ways than one.
"It’s really cool because students feel more connected in this type of class because there are fewer students in each class site than in a regular classroom," Jones added. "I encourage other faculty to take the opportunity to teach an ITV class. They’ll be glad they did."