Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Student Rocks 
In and Out of the Classroom

By David Staudacher, Rio Salado College

The Valley-based rock band Anarbor started in 2003 when three middle-school friends decided to start a band based on a shared passion for the same type of music.

Today, the friends, who are in their early 20s, are accomplished musicians who have toured the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and parts of Japan.

“The longest tour we have done to date has been two full months and was this last summer when we were a part of the Vans 2010 Warped Tour,” said guitarists Mike Kitlas. “We spent two months away from home and played over 50 shows.”

While traveling the world and living the rock ’n’ roll lifestyle is dream for Kitlas, it doesn’t leave time for doing a lot of other things. And one thing he would like to accomplish is earning a college degree. While a tradition college doesn’t offer the flexibility a touring musician needs in their schedule, Kitlas has been able to earn a degree through Tempe-based Rio Salado College.

“I began taking classes with Rio Salado College when I was a junior in high school,” said Kitlas. “I attended Brophy College Prep in Phoenix, and I was involved in many honors courses, which allowed me to take classes as college credits. Luckily, before I even graduating Brophy I had a full semester of college credits completed.”

Now that Kitlas is out of high school and spending a lot of time on the road, he hasn’t missed a beat in his educational goals with Rio Salado’s format.

“I love online classes because they allow me to travel for my career, but still allow me the opportunity to get my college degree while at work,” he said. “Without online classes, I would have to choose one or the other, and the chances of me choosing school over rock ’n’ roll is not going to happen.”

While he loves his life as a musician, Kitlas still makes sacrifices to keep up with his class deadlines.

“I study during the long drives we have from state to state,” said Kitlas. “I take tests once I am in my dressing room and I have a quiet atmosphere. I let my tour manager know to close off the dressing room for a period of time so I’m able to concentrate and complete the exam. Sometimes my tests are required to be proctored, like my Biology midterm. When I was in Portland, I had to miss my sound check at the venue because I was at the local community college taking my midterm exam. This can be tough to organize because I am on a schedule, so it takes a lot of planning on my part to ensure I can take all my exams.”

This month, Kitlas is on track to complete his Associate Degree in Liberal Arts from Rio Salado College. He also plans to continue his education and is considering a degree in music business marketing.

Check out Anarbor’s music at www.myspace.com/anarbor.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Rio Salado College Awarded Grant from Hanover Grants

Hanover Grants, a Washington, D.C.-based grant development and management services firm, awarded online community college, Rio Salado College a $68,373 program-planning grant administered through the National Science Foundation Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program.

The Science and Math in Arizona Rural Teaching (SMART) Fellows Planning Grant will support a series of planning workshops involving rural schools, industry partners, and college faculty to develop a program of enhanced training and support for rural science and math teachers seeking master’s degrees. The team will also use the planning period to obtain private matching funds to support the new program.

Hanover Grants assisted Rio Salado’s science and math teacher education team in the planning and development of the SMART Fellows Planning Grant proposal. The planning team, led by Janet Johnson, Chair of Rio Salado’s Department of Education, and Shannon Corona, Chair of Physical Science, expects to request NSF support for the new program through an application to the Robert Noyce Master Teaching Fellowship Program. Hanover Grants is assisting the team throughout the planning process in preparation for the new application.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Rio Salado College Gets High Praise

Rio Salado College, an accredited online college known for its strong completion of online certificates and programs, has been named one of the nation’s eight highly productive institutions of higher education by McKinsey & Company, a nationally known management consulting firm.

McKinsey & Company reported that Rio Salado is a community college with one of the largest online enrollments in the nation. They praised the accredited online college’s cost−effective practices of leveraging technology, substituting full−time with adjunct faculty, innovative attitudes of Rio Salado administrators, and the decision made by the State of Arizona to allow Rio Salado College to operate across the state, serving students across many communities.

Source: Ahwatukee Foothills News, Phoenix, AZ (Dec. 2010).

Monday, December 20, 2010

RISE Learning for Life new semester starts Jan. 3

A new semester of classes will begin Jan. 3 at RISE Learning for Life.

The adult learning organization will offer nearly 100 classes in the new semester. Most of them will be new to the curriculum.

Classes are taught at the Rio Salado College Lifelong Learning Center, 12535 Smokey Drive, Surprise.

Any Maricopa County adult may join RISE for a $45 annual fee and take the free classes.

For information on these and other courses, go to www.RISEedu.org or call 480-377-4250.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Communiversity Gets Involved in New Economic Development Committee

As part of the Arizona Artists Guild's fall exhibition, which attracted 85 artists from 17 Arizona cities, an Award of Excellence went to Lawrence Carter, of Sun City West, and a Merit Award went to Jean Dibner, also of Sun City West. A Merchant's Award went to Woodard Mackie, of Surprise. The Surprise Regional Chamber of Commerce will be making economic development one of its key areas of focus over the next year having just entered a multiyear service agreement with the city of Surprise.

The new economic development committee will be guiding the chamber's activities as it begins to play a more significant role in aiding its five constituent communities in growing the region's economic activity. The committee is made up of the following individuals: Bill Pupo, former city of Surprise City Manager, currently of Bill Pupo Consulting and chairman of the committee; Scott Phillips, vice president of Carefree Partners; Joe LaRue, president and CEO of Sun Health; John Harrington, CEO of Banner Del Webb Medical Center; Latonya Finch, regional manager of economic development for BNSF Railway; Todd Hornback, director of community life at DMB Associates; Dr. Todd Aakhus, director of Rio Salado Community College/Communiversity at Surprise; and Rich Marchant, vice president of operations for Crescent Crown Distributing.

For more information on the Surprise Regional Chamber of Commerce Economic Committee, contact David Moss at 623-583-0692. Information about the Communiversity @ Surprise, go to www.azcommuniversity.com.

Source: Sun City Independent Newspaper

RISE Classes Discuss Rewiring Your Brain

How to tap into your whole brain to maximize your health and well being will be explained at a RISE Learning for Life class, which began 1 p.m. Monday, Dec. 13 at Rio Salado College Lifelong Learning Center, 12535 Smokey Drive. The class is one of four new classes starting the week of Dec. 13 at RISE, a part of Rio Salado College. Fall classes at RISE Learngin for Life end this week. The winter semester classes begin Monday, Jan. 3. About 99 classes will be offered, two-thirds of the classes have never been offered before. Any adult living in Maricopa County can join RISE for a $45 annual membership and take any class without charge. RISE members can still sign up for other new classes. Class offerings can be viewed at www.riseedu.org/classes. More information is available from Rio Salado College Lifelong Learning Center or call 480-377-4250.

Source: Sun City Independent Newspaper (12-8-10).

Monday, December 13, 2010

Dental Students Featured on Maricopa Now!

Rio Salado College's School of Dental Hygiene is featured on the December edition of MCTV's Maricopa Now! The program shows students at the Rio Salado clinic and volunteering at CASS (Central Arizona Shelter Services) where they help treat the Valley's homeless every week.

To see more stories about the Maricopa Community Colleges, visit www.maricopa.edu/mctv.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Rio Salado Awarded for Outstanding Use of Technology in Higher Education

By David Staudacher, Rio Salado College PR Manager

Rio Salado College is trying to eliminate cheating in higher education. And for its efforts the Tempe-based college was named one of four colleges throughout the country to win a 2010 WCET Outstanding Work (WOW) award from the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET) in Boulder, CO.

In November, college representatives accepted the award for the colleges Peer-to Peer Plagiarism Detection System during a conference in La Jolla, CA.

“At Rio Salado we promote the values of academic integrity among students, faculty, teachers and administrators,” said Vernon Smith, the vice president of Academic Affairs at Rio Salado College. “One of the ways we maintain this integrity is through our Peer-to-Peer Plagiarism detection system.”

The automated plagiarism detector is intended to identify cases of students sharing answers on written assessments. The detection software continuously scans submissions from the college’s Rio Learn interface, and compares them to a 90-day history of submissions for the same assessment. The system detects “excessive similarity” by comparing the question-by-question response patterns of students. Faculty chairs are alerted via e-mail whenever a new case is discovered. The system is extremely robust and commonly detects cases of cheating despite student efforts to conceal it. The detector was initially launched in July and several cases are detected and reviewed each week.

Faculty and staff response to the plagiarism detector has been extremely positive. John Jensen, Rio Salado Faculty president, praised the new system.

“The peer-to-peer plagiarism detection system is a key element in fortifying Rio Salado’s commitment to academic integrity,” said Jensen. “What is more, it reinforces in students the formation of ethical behavior and self-reliance as critical values in their character development and their learning as a personal responsibility. In the end, we feel that this system supports authentication in the online learning environment that meets or exceeds the capabilities of the physical classroom.”

WCET recognizes innovative uses of educational technologies in higher education. Since 2004 the WCET WOW award has been presented to higher education institutions and organizations for exceptionally creative, technology-based solutions to a significant problem or need. In 2010, the awards go to four ambitious projects, each addressing a challenging issue with a unique solution.

“This year the selection process included a more explicit review of measurable outcomes to assess the actual impact of each approach to the specific, targeted need,” noted Peg O’Brien, WOW Awards Committee chair and director of extended programs for Dakota State University in South Dakota. “The WCET WOW award represents a great tribute to the work of the winning organizations, and also serves as a meaningful way to disseminate exemplar practices to the higher education community.”

Along with Rio Salado College, Foothill-De Anza Community College District’s College, Kentucky Virtual Campus’s KCTCS Online, and Winona State University also were named The 2010 WOW recipients.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Rio Salado College Named One of Eight 'Highly Productive Institutions'

Rio Salado College, known for its strong online learning program, has been named one of eight highly productive institutions of higher education in the nation by McKinsey & Company, a nationally known management consulting firm.

In its new report, “Winning by Degrees: The Strategies of Highly Productive Higher Education Institutions,” McKinsey describes Rio Salado as “the community college with the largest online enrollments in the nation. U.S. higher education needs a new generation of such innovation at scale.”

“We’re delighted that McKinsey & Co. has recognized the accomplishments of Rio Salado College,” said Maricopa Community Colleges Chancellor Rufus Glasper. “They’re saying that other institutions should replicate what Rio Salado has done – to provide scale that will allow more Americans to work toward a college degree.”

The McKinsey report describes the organization's research into higher education, which concluded that achieving a goal of 1 million more postsecondary degrees requires a “structural shift” in education. McKinsey said that not only will American education need to emphasize both access and college completion, but colleges and universities must become more productive, by an average of 23%.

The report praised Rio Salado’s practice of leveraging technology to become more cost-effective by substituting full-time with part-time faculty, the attitude of Rio Salado administrators, who encourage innovation, and a decision made by the State of Arizona when Rio Salado was created that allowed the college to operate across the state, serving students across many communities.

“The board of the Maricopa Community College system allows Rio Salado to operate across counties,” the report continued, “while other brick-and-mortar institutions have predefined service areas.”

“This report is recognition that Rio Salado’s educational innovations are working,” said Dr. Chris Bustamante, president of Rio Salado College. “We continue to look for additional ways to be more productive and effective in our work and to effect more certificate and degree completion.”

Overall, the McKinsey report recommends that colleges and universities reduce nonproductive, or excess credits taken by students; redesign their instruction, including use of innovative delivery systems such as online learning; ensure that core support and services are more efficient; and optimize non-core services and other operations.