Tag Archives: Parkland Library

SPARK Celebrates Five Years!

Where can you find the best work of Parkland College students? Check out SPARK, Parkland’s award-winning, open access institutional repository!

This month, SPARK, which stand for Scholarship at Parkland, celebrates its fifth year showcasing the best scholarly and creative works of Parkland students. Each year, SPARK adds papers and projects by students participating in the A with Honors program, selected posters from the Natural Sciences Poster Session, podcasts from Anthropology 103’s Ethnographies of Parkland Student Life project, and prints, product designs, and digital media from the Graphic Design Student Exhibition.

Operating on the Digital Commons platform created by BePress, the collection now holds nearly 1,400 entries from over 450 student, faculty, and staff authors, and has seen over 100,000 downloads from around the globe. Take a look at this readership activity map to see how far SPARK reaches:

SPARK Readership Map link
Click on the SPARK Readership Map to connect to the web page.

Parkland was among the first community colleges in the country to recognize the value of establishing a digital collection of academic and creative student work, and SPARK has proven to benefit students in a variety of ways:

  • Students whose work is included in the repository are able to share their work with not only future transfer institutions or employers, but also with  a larger, more global academic community.
  • Current students are able to use SPARK to model their work after the successful work of others.
  • Students get real-world application of skills as they prepare their projects for publication.

Five years ago, SPARK began with a mission to highlight Parkland’s commitment to excellence in learning. As we look to the future of SPARK, that mission remains unchanged, and we are excited to welcome not only new student work but also to begin using SPARK as a platform for sharing educational resources created by Parkland faculty.

[Cheri Cameron is the archivist at the Parkland College Library.]

New Technology at Parkland: Part 3

Below, Parkland Library Administrative Assistant Sarah Meilike shares how faculty, staff, and students have been using Parkland’s MakerBot Replicator 2, with its 3D modeling and printing technology, for practical applications on campus. Sarah also demonstrates the new system in an upcoming video to be shown during the Pygmalion Tech Fest.
**Parkland is a presenting partner of the Pygmalion Festival, September 23-27, which includes a Tech Festival on Friday, Sept., 25 at Krannert Center in Urbana. The Tech Festival is FREE for all Parkland students with a valid ID.**



What the MakerBot Replicator 2 Is and What It Does
We purchased our 3D printer, a MakerBot Replicator 2, in December 2013. Since then, we have been working with faculty and staff to promote it and engage students. In particular, Assistant Professor Derek Dallas, who teaches compter graphics, has been a wonderful resource for this goal. He incorporated the 3D printer into his 3D Animation class curriculum during the fall 2014 semester. This project brought his students into the library and exposed them to the technology; many of them have returned for personal projects.

We have provided demonstrations of the 3D printer to classes that request them. Kari Couch and Dave Wilson of Computer Science and Information Technology have both brought several classes in each semester to see the printer in action, learn about the software associated with it, and discuss its impact on the evolution of technology.

What We Can Do with The Technology
One of the most practical applications we’ve seen is Derek Dallas working with Natural Sciences Department Chair Scott Siechen to create an anesthetization box for flies. Anesthetizing flies is something Scott’s classes do regularly, but the cost of the boxes are fairly high. Derek was able to design a working box at a much lower cost.


What is Online Learning, Anyway?

Distance education.  Distance learning.  Online learning. Virtual learning.  People use these terms interchangeably to mean a “mode of delivering education and instruction to students who are not physically present in a traditional setting, such as a classroom” (Wikipedia).

Distance education
Distance education. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

It may surprise you that the first distance education class in the U.S. took place about 300 years ago! In the 18th century, students could gain secretarial skills through mailed lessons (later called correspondence education).  Mailed lessons eventually evolved into televised courses: Schools recorded lectures on VHS tapes and made them available for students to check out and view in their homes.  Students would then send the completed lessons back to their instructors.

As the Internet became more prevalent, distance education offered the ability for “real time” interaction between instructor and students.  The Web brought about the opportunity for peer communication as well, much like students in a classroom, except for being in a virtual environment. Parkland College has offered this type of learning since the 1990s and is one of the top community colleges in the state of Illinois in online offerings.  We also believe that we have some of the best online faculty as well.

What does this mean for you? It means that, while its delivery systems are evolving, distance education is still serious business, and the rules for success at it remain the same:

Online learning is NOT always easy; it’s not just “browsing the Internet” or “chatting.”  You must research, write, and submit papers, just like in the traditional classroom.  You take quizzes, tests, and exams using a special software or learning management system (Cobra Learning at Parkland).  Faculty interact with you through topic boards  and class discussion, and they post grades of your online work.

Online learning takes discipline; there are generally no set hours to “attend” class or instructors in front of the room reminding you of due dates.  Faculty will give you the tools to help with your success, but it’s up to you to use them efficiently and effectively.

Not enrolled in online courses?  It is still a good idea to know how to use the Cobra Learning system for your classes. Many of our classroom faculty utilize Cobra  to distribute and receive materials as well as for testing.  So, log into the Cobra system and, along the right side below your profile settings, you will find a widget called Help for Students.  There you will find video tutorials to help you learn how to use Cobra.

Your success in all courses–classroom and online–is important to us.  Please take advantage of services we make available to ensure that success.  The STAR help desk, the Library, and CAS (Center for  Academic Success) are just a few of the services that we recommend, whether you’re taking an online class or not.