Since its founding in 2004, the University has used educational technology to broaden access to its degree programs and enhance the quality and effectiveness of instruction and enrich student learning. Investments in learning management systems, digital learning platforms, and educational software have helped the University create a more inclusive, user-friendly, and interactive learning environment for all courses, however they are taught—whether online, onsite or a combination of both.
Course Delivery Modes
Classes are offered in various ways (modalities), depending on factors such as the degree program, course objectives and requirements, and student needs.
As of Fall 2021, courses are offered in Athens and in Nashua according to one of the following modalities, each with its own set of requirements.
On campus modality
All classes are held in-person and on campus. Course material, activities, tests, and assignments are made available on the Blackboard Ultra digital learning environment.
All classes are held mainly asynchronously using the tools and functionalities of the Blackboard Ultra platform. Students work at their own pace, completing the readings, assignments, tasks, and other activities that have been uploaded to the platform and within the deadlines specified by the instructor. Several mandatory live video sessions are also scheduled throughout the term.
A minimum of three 120’ synchronous video classes via Blackboard Collaborate are held during the semester. The instructor may decide to add additional sessions depending on the needs of specific programs or courses.
Minimum of one 90’ synchronous video class via Blackboard Collaborate per week.
All classes are held synchronously—via live online video sessions—via the Blackboard Collaborate platform. using all available tools and functionalities. Course material, activities, tests, and assignments are made available on the Blackboard Ultra digital learning environment.
All classes are held in-person and on campus with all material, activities, and assignments on Blackboard Ultra using all available tools and functionalities.
Three 120’-long synchronous video classes via Blackboard Collaborate are also held during the course.
The Online and Classroom Learning Environment
Whatever the course modality, students enjoy a rich learning environment that engages them in their learning through a variety of teaching methods and learning activities. These include group discussions, project-based learning, collaborative learning, journaling, case studies, and experiential learning. Educational technology is used to foster participation, collaboration, and self-reflection, and draw on various instructional media—not just the textbook.
The main components of the University’s digital learning environment include:
- Blackboard Ultra, a learning management system
- Blackboard Collaborate, a virtual classroom system for online interaction
- Mercer and Mettl Digital Proctoring system, for secure, online assessment
In addition, physical classrooms have been outfitted with broadband and special equipment to provide access to the online learning resources and, where needed, enable online collaboration.
Blackboard Ultra is used to design courses and upload:
- course syllabus, academic content, and reference and study material in various formats
- course assignments and the rubrics used to grade them
- individual and group activities (e.g. discussion threads and journals.)
- the instructor’s written, oral and video feedback for work students have submitted
- course grades and attendance records
With this virtual classroom system students can:
- connect and communicate with each other and the instructor through video conferencing
- listen to and participate in the instructor’s presentation
- share written feedback using the chat feature, polls, and interactive whiteboard
- work in groups and pairs using the breakout rooms
- share files
Mercer and Mettl Digital Proctoring
All courses now have the option of live online proctored tests and examinations. This online testing system enables instructors to administer tests in a secure, controlled, and safe digital environment. Students are proctored live as they take the test by a specially trained instructor
The University has been upgrading its physical classrooms to create multi-purpose learning environments to accommodate a range of learning need. All classrooms are equipped with broadband internet access, instructor laptops, smart boards, and data projectors. In addition, five classrooms on the Athens campus have been upgraded and equipped with a multi-touch Huawei Idea Hub (which replaces traditional equipment). The remaining classrooms in Athens and those in Nashua are scheduled for upgrade at a later date.
The newly upgraded classrooms can now accommodate different groups of students in class and online—at the same time—without disrupting the learning process.