Programs replacing school textbooks with computers

Jenna Hamel

Hands-on work helps students prep for future

If athletic training majors had to use just a textbook and a chalkboard to learn the skills needed to enter their field, they could not possibly be prepared for the real world.

“We are an allied medical field, so if our students just learned by reading a textbook or by lecture, I certainly would not want to be their patient,” said Kim Peer, assistant professor and athletic training education program coordinator.

The athletic training program is one of many majors that uses alternative methods of teaching to prepare its students for life after graduation. More classes on campus are beginning to offer hands-on courses for students.

Most of the programs require students to complete skills such as performing splinting procedures and shoulder or head injury evaluations. The students mainly receive their experience on campus working with the Kent State athletic teams.

Besides the 12-20 clinical hours athletic training majors have to complete, students also work with cutting-edge sports equipment and technology.

“Because we are an accredited program, there are certain standards we have to meet,” Peer said. “One of them is to keep up with contemporary techniques and equipment.”

The school recently purchased a laser that uses light therapy to treat deep tissue injuries and inflammatory conditions.

“It kind of reminds me of Star Wars,” Peer said. “It’s a great tool for students to learn from.”

Interactive Hotel

One course within the hospitality management program uses a computer-simulated game to teach its students how to successfully run a hotel. Hotel Operations Tactics and Strategy, also referred to as the HOTS program, is a Swedish training method used worldwide.

Swathi Ravichandran, assistant professor of hospitality management, heard about the program from Iowa State, her alma mater, and recommended the program to Kent State.

HOTS is part of the senior level Strategic Lodging Management course. The course is an elective and is not required for the hospitality management program. The class is only offered every other spring, with the next one running in Spring 2010. Ravichandran says it is the class she enjoys teaching the most.

“It’s a training tool for students, and if you go to the HOTS Web site, there will be a long list of universities that use it,” Ravichandran said. “Any leading hospitality management program worldwide will be on that list. Marriott Hotels even use it to train their managers.”

Teams of two students manage a virtual hotel and compete against the other teams within the class to see who runs the most successful hotel by the end of the semester. The students have to make decisions related to marketing, advertising, human resources and budget.

“Everything costs money,” Ravichandran said. “The students are trying to make a profit, but they also have to be conscientious of their costs.”

The only concern Ravichandran has about the program is relying on computer technology.

“I am not a nervous person, but the fact that I did not have total control over the game scared the heck out of me,” Ravichandran said. “With the simulation game, if it freezes or dies, I have no control, and I am not an IT person. The student’s grade depends on that technology.”

Work out

A new course, offered in the spring, will have students quickly dropping those extra holiday pounds with exercise. Exercise Leadership is an upper division undergraduate course offered by the School of Exercise, Leisure and Sport that exercise physiology and physical education majors will soon be required to take.

The course is a lab and lecture course that focuses on how to design a group or individual exercise course. This includes choosing the music, warm-ups, routines and cool-downs as well as how to incorporate all levels of ability. Students will also be graded on creativity.

“The basic idea was to create a course to give students who are interested in being exercise instructors, physical trainers or health fitness instructors the chance to learn about the concepts and how to design an exercise class,” said Angela Ridgel, assistant professor of exercise physiology.

The final project is to create an exercise video. Students will learn about special types of exercise classes, such as water aerobics, spinning, yoga, boot camp, Latin dance and sports conditioning.

“I am a big fan of physically interacting in class, I think it is an essential part of this program,” Ridgel said. “The students cannot design an exercise program without doing the moves themselves. Plus, I am a fan of moving around.”

Virtual classroom

Albert Ingram, associate professor of educational psychology and instructional technology, is the coordinator for the newly created Instructional Technology Programs. The program assists teachers in designing online coursework and teaching in a virtual environment.

Ingram said the good thing about online classes is that they can fit anyone’s schedule and can be taken from anywhere. Ingram added that there is someone living in South Carolina who is taking the Online Learning and Teaching course to finish a Master’s degree.

“Digital technology and networking technologies are changing everything,” he said.

Elizabeth Rund contributed to this story.

Contact Education, Health and Human Services reporter Jenna Hamel at [email protected].