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Tri C tries touch-tone teaching.

Cuyahoga Community College has grown to 40,000 credit-students per year from just 3,000 when it opened its doors in 1963. The first community college in Ohio, CCC is located in Cleveland.

About 75% of the students are part-time: they're working people, parents at home with children, even pre-release prisoners from the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, each seeking the advantages of education.

To serve these non-traditional students, the college developed an independent study program two years ago. "Our independent study program has worked well," says Assistant Professor Charlene Moskal-Burges, "yet we all continue to look for new ways to better serve students who aren't able to come to the campus."

Moskal-Burges worked with Tigon Voice Messaging. The logic was obvious: Why couldn't the college benefit from the technology in the same way businesses had?

Voice messaging meant instructors could respond to recorded questions 24 hours a day from multiple students using any touchtone telephone, with no busy signals. That saves time for an off-campus student who may be juggling a job or child care with classes.

College managers saw advantages in voice messaging too. There is no hardware for the college to lease or maintain. Training is included, and Tigon account representatives regularly visit to help develop additional applications.

Above all, students and teachers work together more often. "One-on-one interaction is the best kind of education, and it could be hard to came by in a commuter-based educational environment such as ours," says Donald R. Brusk, assistant vice president of computer systems and resources. "Voice messaging can give the students more of this interaction."

Paul E. Shumaker, acting vice president of academic and student affairs, agrees. "Student-faculty voice messages strengthen and personalize communications for self-paced, independent learning courses like ours."

Voice messaging lends itself particularly well to language classes. French instructor Yona Webb and her eight advanced independent learning students have voice mail boxes.

"Sometimes a student doesn't realize that he or she is not doing the oral assignment correctly," Webb says. "I'll save the student's message, phone the student and give the right accent or verb form."

Webb's French students have bons mots for voice messaging too. Marty Surface, a nurse working 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. shift finds himself using the system at 1 a.m. "I can leave messages round the clock, and Ms. Webb answers them when she has time," he says. "Last quarter, I didn't have a voice mail box, which really created difficulties for me because of my work schedule."

Without voice messaging, electrical engineering student Salam Najjar wouldn't be able to carry 19 hours this quarter.

"Whenever I have a few spare minutes, I phone in my assignment," Najjar says. "Once my instructor explained the voice messaging system, it was easy to use."

CCC officials also have expanded the network to students at the Northeast Ohio Pre-Release Center in Cleveland, offering inmates two pilot courses: Women in American History and Human Behavior at Work.

"The accessibility of the professors through the voice mail system is one of the main benefits of this program," notes Dr. Rose Ann Grasty, director for the job readiness program for the pre-release inmates.

"Voice mail allows our pre-release inmates to take courses they'd be reluctant to take otherwise. Furthermore, because inmates are only allowed to use the phone certain days of the week at certain times of the day, voice mail, with its guaranteed accessibility, provides these students greater options for pursuing college courses."

Professor Helen Hairston, who teaches the human behavior course, found a special benefit in the program. "Voice messaging gives these students personal contact and praise."

Hairston believes that pre-release students are even more in need of the immediate feedback voice messaging delivers--if a question has been answered wrong, or a paper needs further work--while the topic is still fresh in their minds.

Twenty-nine women participate in the program. Julie (a pseudonym) is serving time for involuntary manslaughter. She's currently taking Women in American History. "Being enrolled in this course has shown me that women like myself can succeed and make something of their lives."

Moskal-Burges knows education can turn a life around. "If a student has been out of school for a long time, he or she may fear feeling foolish in a classroom situation and embarrassed to reveal that the material isn't clear. Voice messaging prevents that and enables anybody to feel confident about learning," she says.

Moskal-Burges would like to see voice messaging available to independent students nationwide.

"Today's students clearly place a high priority on education that is accessible and convenient. That's reality. Learning can't stop when the classroom door is shut."

Voice messaging can keep the school doors open for everyone, all the time.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Nelson Publishing
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Cuyahoga Community College uses Tigon Corp.'s Tigon Voice Messaging
Publication:Communications News
Date:Aug 1, 1992
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