For Immediate Release:
April 16, 2015
Primary Media Contact:
Public Relations Specialist
Community college is designed to be one of society’s great equalizers, a shot at joining the middle class for those who didn’t get a chance to attend a four-year university. And technology has expanded the reach of these institutions and enhanced the quality of education for those it reaches. Recognizing the institutions that best use technology to enhance young American minds is the 2014-2015 Digital Community Colleges Survey, led by the Center for Digital Education.
This year’s survey identified 46 of the most forward-thinking and technology-driven community colleges in the nation. Applicants from three enrollment size categories submitted responses to a 30-question, 250-data-point survey. Winning applicants were recognized for their technology leadership in mobile computing, job placement programs, social media, data management and strategic planning.
This year’s first place winners from their respective categories were Northern Virginia Community College, Va., (10,000 enrolled or more);
Lord Fairfax Community College, Va. (5,000 to 10,000 enrolled); and Carl Sandburg College, Ill. (fewer than 5,000 enrolled). The top community colleges exemplified the broader statistics uncovered by the survey.
Of those colleges surveyed, 43 percent have a mobile strategy and 59 percent offer instructors professional development education on how to integrate mobile devices into their coursework.
Job placement programs were identified as a high priority for many community colleges. Fifty-eight percent offer online resume-building tools, 82 percent offer access to job boards and career information, and 59 percent offer online job placement programs, including private-sector partnerships.
Social media use rose 19 percent over the past three years, with 47 percent of colleges surveyed having published social media policies.
In the face of emerging new technologies, IT infrastructure management is a growing concern for many institutions, with 43 percent of colleges reporting a complete server virtualization, 32 percent with a completed data center virtualization, and 58 percent maintaining an IT strategic plan.
Virginia’s Lord Fairfax Community College
Lord Fairfax Community College in Virginia scored first place in the medium-sized enrollment category of 5,000 to 10,000 for the third year in a row.
Judges noted successes in the school’s deployment of a wireless build out that pre-empted the mobile device boom, digital classroom resources designed for the tight budget, and an accessible IT infrastructure. The college is among the first in the nation to embrace entire programs that can be completed without students needing to buy a textbook.
“We are committed to providing top quality teaching and learning as the focus of our institution, and look at technology as a way to enhance the process,” Chief Information Officer Richie Crim told the Center for Digital Education via email, noting that in recent years, the school has seen notable growth.
“We have expanded our facilities, increased our lab capacities, and expanded our presence across the communities we serve,” he said. “All around the premise of providing ‘value’ to the educational experience students desire and deserve. Community college provides a value for learners looking for the ‘best bang for their buck’ with small class sizes and outstanding instruction from top quality educators.”
As the market shifted demand toward a greater need for education in the STEM and health fields, the school has kept pace, offering coursework in science, technology, engineering mathematics and health. The college provides students with access to labs with 3-D printers, courses in game design, and opportunities to use cutting-edge technology like virtual reality headsets and drones.
“These are things we never envisioned in the classroom just a few years ago,” Crim said, adding that higher education is becoming more social through the advancement of technology. “Student collaboration in and out of the classroom is a major focus here at LFCC. From the ALT [Active Learning with Technology] Classroom to the ‘Flipped Classroom,’ student-to-student interaction appears to be the current ticket to engagement. Learners participating in groups to solve problems as the instructor facilitates has replaced much of the traditional lecture-based teacher-to-student instruction.”
Ultimately, Crim said, the school’s success derives from an understanding that they’re never innovating just for the sake of innovation, but that technology is enabling the school’s mission of educating its students.”
Founded in 1970, Lord Fairfax Community College is a multi-campus public institution of higher education. With four locations — Middletown, Warrenton, Luray-Page County and most recently, Vint Hill— the College serves eight localities in the Shenandoah Valley and northern Piedmont regions. The localities are the counties of Clarke, Fauquier, Frederick, Page, Rappahannock, Shenandoah and Warren and the city of Winchester. LFCC offers more than 75 associate degree and certificate programs in a wide variety of disciplines, in addition to providing access to bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs offered on site by a four-year institution. LFCC also serves the business community by offering workforce preparation programs for employees and employers. LFCC serves more than 9,000 unduplicated credit students and more than 11,000 individuals in professional development and business and industry courses annually.
Lord Fairfax Community College (LFCC) is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award associate degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Lord Fairfax Community College. Lord Fairfax Community College is an equal opportunity institution providing educational and employment opportunities, programs, services, and activities and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, age, religion, disability, national origin, marital status, political affiliation, sexual orientation, or other non-merit factors. LFCC also prohibits sexual misconduct including sexual violence or harassment.