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Norris embraces social media in classroom

November 22, 2012
By Michael Tidemann - Staff Writer , Estherville Daily News

While some instructors might hit the ceiling when they see their students texting in class, Kyle Norris, science instructor and athletic trainer at Iowa Lakes Community College, does something else.

He Twitters them back.

Norris told the college board of trustees Tuesday night how he's using text messaging with his students - so they can reach him and he can reach him back. Norris' comments were a synopsis of a longer presentation he made earlier at the NCA convention in Chicago.

Wanting to create a relationship between himself and his advisees, it's all a part of making it easier for students to contact him. As a result, he has a portable office no bigger than his phone.

Norris introduced Halie Cody, an athletic training student from Emmetsburg, who told how the method worked for her.

Norris said he's also had a lot more contact with students with Twitter, e-mail or texting than with traditional methods.

"It's about creating pathways where students in the world they're living in now can contact us," said Norris, noting that 16 to 17 advisors are consistently using the method. He said advisors also get faster and more responsive student messages from texting than from e-mail.

In other business Tuesday, Jan Lund, board president, appointed board committees.

The board also adopted a child abuse reporting policy.

According to Kathy Muller, director of human resources, anyone who tends a child under 18 is required to report suspected child abuse under Iowa law.

Muller said there haven't been any related issues at Iowa Lakes but that the policy arose over the Jerry Sandusky incident. She said the policy will provide for mandatory reporter training for all faculty, coaches and TRIO staff or anyone who could have contact with children. There will be a related in-service every five years and as new people are hired they will go online to get certified.

The board also approved a quality faculty plan revision, removing a provision for conditional teaching standards for faculty who did not have the required 12 credits in their discipline.

The board heard about and dealt with a number of other issues, including:

n Executive Dean of Instruction and Development Mark Gruwell updated the trustees on the Academic Quality Improvement program (AQIP). The college has submitted a portfolio which will be reviewed by a team to identify steps which can be taken on future projects.

n Approved an exploratory memorandum of understanding with GLOBAL Alternative Energy Solutions of Turkey to provide noncredit wind industry training to wind energy professionals.

n Approved a learning exchange network entitled Project CREATE which would provide collaboration with experts in Australia.

n Approved STEM scale-up grant awards. Gruwell said the college had received $450,000 in STEM scale-up grant awards to provide to 12 service providers. In return the service providers will give data reports.

In other business, the board approved a change order of $1,296.60 for the DOT-funded access road at the Emmetsburg campus.

Delaine Hiney, executive director of facilities management, said the building committee had met last Thursday regarding plans for Medieval Glass building. Hiney said she will work with FRK Architects of Des Moines to obtain drawings for later board approval.

Jane Campbell, executive director of marketing, told in the Iowa Lakes update of upcoming events including a coffeehouse Nov. 29, madrigal dinner at the Estherville VFW Dec. 8-9 and the winter music recital Dec. 12.

In the foundation report Jolene Rogers, executive director of institutional advancement, acknowledged corporate partners and upcoming events, including the 2013 golf tour. Rogers also thanked Iowa Lakes employees who supported the scholarship campaign.

In the treasurer's report, Robert L'Heureux, vice president of administration, requested and received approval for two new main hubs in Estherville and Emmetsburg for the networking system.

In the president's report, Val Newhouse, college president, acknowledged the added contributions employees are making given tighter budgets over recent years.



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