New PBSC department focuses on innovative learning

LisaA new Innovation and Instructional Technology department has been created at Palm Beach State College to further support the growth of e-learning on all campuses.

Heading the department, housed on the Boca Raton campus, is Director Lisa Gustinelli, who began earlier this summer. Gustinelli serves as a partner to Sidney Beitler, the e-Learning department director.

The goal is to better prepare students who transfer to four-year institutions and those who enter the workforce through broad exposure to digital technology.

Before joining PBSC, Gustinelli was the director of instructional technology at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Ft. Lauderdale.

She has been involved in educational technology at the national and international level. Gustinelli is a New Media Consortium technology ambassador and has spoken at several national and international conferences on active learning, online teaching and emerging technologies in higher education. She has also been an expert panelist for the NMC Horizon report since 2013 and is an active webinar panelist for many education technology organizations.

As part of her role, she will help faculty imagine and experiment with new ways to engage students while they are at Palm Beach State and as lifelong learners.

“It’s important that the Instructional Technology and E-Learning Department teams serve our faculty and students by providing a technologically rich learning environment for online, hybrid and face-to-face learning environments,” says Gustinelli.

Palm Beach State has seen a 33 percent increase in its online course offerings over the last five years. The number of students who enrolled in those courses also increased over the last five years with approximately 16,133 new students enrolling in an online class during the 2016-17 academic year.

Palm Beach State’s hybrid courses, which combine Internet and face-to-face instruction, have also increased. In 2011-12, the College had 60 courses. That number rose to 104 in 2016-17. Student enrollments for those courses also increased with 5,554 new students enrolling in the 2016-17 year.

With increased online course offerings and enrollment, Gustinelli and her team hopes to introduce new technologies to faculty and students soon. One such technology is gamification, which uses game theory and practices in the development of digital simulations for e-learning.

“We believe that students will be more engaged with the learning process and will ultimately achieve greater academic success if learning is based on gaming concepts such as competition, incentives and goal attainment,” she said.

Other new technologies and instructional delivery involve active learning and flipped classrooms. Active learning classrooms feature round, computer and network equipped tables to accommodate small student teams, a central teaching station to promote teacher circulation around the classroom, and multiple computer screens placed strategically around the room.

In a flipped classroom, educators prepare online lectures and interactive lessons that students are required to review before coming to class, allowing more class time spent on homework, discussion and other classroom activities.

“We believe active learning classrooms will promote a highly collaborative, hands-on interactive learning experience for our students with the goal of better preparing them for the real world,” said Gustinelli. “In a flipped classroom, the educator moves from on-stage lecturer to on-the-side facilitator to provide more personalized instruction for our students.”

Gustinelli also hopes to bring more simulation technology such as zSpace software currently available at the Loxahatchee Groves and Belle Glade campuses to other areas at PBSC. According to her, this type of technology is becoming more widely recognized as an important learning tool because it actively engages students in the learning process and allows students to practice skills and apply knowledge as well as engage in virtual situations.


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