ACTC gets $2.5M grant; aim on e-courses

ASHLAND, Ky. — Ashland Community and Technical College will be able to improve its online courses with a five-year, $2.5 million grant, dean of academic affairs Janie Kitchen said Thursday.

actc-logo-2ACTC will use some of the grant money to set up labs, one for faculty and two for students, according to Kitchen.

The goal is to improve student success in entry level courses like college algebra, psychology and biology.

The faculty lab will be a creative space in which instructors can make videos, recordings and podcasts to embed in their online courses. The lab will be located on ACTC’s EastPark campus on Technology Drive.

The student labs will assist in learning to navigate the online environment, which can be difficult for some students, especially those unaccustomed to online study, Kitchen said.

One lab will be at the original campus on College Drive and the other at the EastPark campus. Staffers at both labs will assist students with online course skills and one on one help will be available.

Also under the grant faculty will undergo additional training to develop better online offerings.

The grant also addresses in-person classes. Six active learning classrooms will be established, four at the College Drive campus and two at EastPark. The classrooms will emphasize interactive and collaborative learning rather than traditional lecture instruction.

ACTC will submit yearly reports and as long as the changes are resulting in student improvement the grant will be renewed for the full five years.

New student support services will center on mentoring; peer success coaches will maintain constant contact with students — in person, by phone, text message, email and social media.

College gets tech boost with $50K

Transforming the stuff of science fiction into useful products and services is the intent of a $50,000 grant Ashland Community and Technical College received from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The Rural Business Enterprise grant is focused on providing technical information for small and emerging businesses and also workforce development training.

ACTC will use the money for business workshops, more equipment for its mobile technology lab, and hosting a conference on new technology.

“We appreciate this grant to provide additional opportunities for our businesses and workforce,” said ACTC President Kay Adkins.

Workshops will target entrepreneurs and others interested in emerging technologies such as virtual and augmented reality, microprocessors, aerial mapping, videography and infrared crop scanning, according to dean of academic affairs Janie Kitchen.

“We want to introduce entrepreneurs to these technologies such that they can incorporate them into existing businesses or create new businesses,” Kitchen said.

In addition to augmenting equipment in the mobile lab, the grant will allow ACTC to expand its outreach to more communities, Kitchen said.

The mobile lab is a trailer stocked with 3-D printers, 3-D pens, laser engravers, virtual reality goggles, drones and other high-tech gear, which ACTC takes primarily to schools and youth-oriented events.

“The kids love it and the parents are right behind them,” Kitchen said.

The emerging technologies conference will be modeled after one held early this year that drew some 300 people to ACTC’s EastPark campus.