Building a new campus has various challenges including staffing the necessary faculty. When Galen College of Nursing set out to develop its Hazard, Kentucky campus in partnership with Appalachian Regional Healthcare, they knew it might be difficult to find enough nursing instructors in the area to meet the demand.
The Louisville campus is the closest campus to Hazard, but with 186 miles separating the two, sharing faculty was not an option – or was it? Offering many of the same courses, Galen was determined to figure out a way to share teaching resources.
In September 2016, Galen started researching ITV solutions as well as examining several distance learning classrooms in Kentucky. A year later, it implemented Interactive Television (ITV) to broadcast its nursing courses as the best way to bridge the divide. The classes are technologically designed to help remote students feel a part of the instruction.
Each of Louisville and Hazard’s two ITV classrooms is equipped with six speakers, four wireless microphones and two cameras. One of the cameras focuses on the teacher at a podium, and the other displays the classroom. These images are projected on two TV screens in each room. Students can view their instructors and classmates on an 80-inch screen in front and a 60-inch in the back of the room. Hazard’s two ITV rooms are slightly smaller with two 70-inch and 60-inch screens.
The rooms also include floor pads, which have sensors that allow the camera to track the instructors’ movements, so remote students can see them, said Duane Hellums, director of Information Technology.
“The original intent of this type of design in most distance learning classrooms is so that you can feel like you know the people on the other side,” he said.
With all these various components, the instructors needed about three hours of training to adapt to the technology. They must be keenly aware of how to operate the cameras and microphones. However, instructors who need technical support can reach out to IT teams at either campus, Hellums said.
ITV classes are the best way to educate Hazard and Louisville students at the same time. There are occasions where the Louisville faculty will visit Hazard to meet with the students and the faculty, and several Hazard instructors have started to teach in Louisville, too, said Dara Lanman, Director of Curriculum and Faculty Development.
“Since the teacher from Louisville is not in the room with the Hazard students, Galen provides access to two different teachers for assistance – their proctor in Hazard and the Louisville teacher,” she said.
ITV classes are comparable to traditional courses because instructors and students can see and interact with each other through two-way, real-time communication. As students and instructors are meeting via live-streaming technology, they quickly forget they are in different locations. With help from proctors at the Hazard campus, Louisville instructors can easily communicate with their Hazard students.
Sandy Harshfield, an assistant professor with Galen for 13 years, has been involved with the ITV courses since its inception in 2017. Harshfield, who teaches pediatrics in the LPN/LVN to ADN Bridge and associate degree programs, believes the classes provide an invaluable opportunity for the College to make a profound difference in Hazard.
“Hazard is in an area where they need nurses, so it helps that we can broadcast the classes to help them become the special nurses that they need so badly in their area,” she said. “For a person who wants to seek a certain profession, but cannot leave the area they’re in, Galen covers that area.”
Instructor Emily Foster teaches an ITV class that focuses on mental health and chronic health conditions. She said this technology allows both classrooms to learn about different cultures, and the communication has been worthwhile.
“The stories that the Hazard students share are different from the Louisville students, and it’s just really nice for everyone to experience it,” she said.
Hazard ADN student Justin Messer said the teachers have gone above and beyond to accommodate them not being physically in Louisville.
“At first, I liked having a teacher in front of me, but the first day of the ITV class changed my mind. I learned a lot, and it has completely changed my perspective,” he said. “Our teacher (Harshfield) makes sure we’re on the same page, and she doesn’t give more attention to one group just because she’s in Louisville.”
Foster and Harshfield commute three hours from Louisville to the Hazard campus once a quarter. Foster also attends their labs and visits with the students to check on their progress.
Both instructors are satisfied with their two class sizes. For example, Harshfield has 30 students in Hazard, and 56 Louisville students. Foster has 24 students in Louisville, and 26 in Hazard. All students can ask questions and engage as they would in a traditional class setting.
“I can hear them over the speaker system, so if they have questions they just ask like anybody else in the classroom. I can also see them on the screen so if they raise their hand I can call on them,” Foster said. “I also try to engage them in the discussion, so I pose questions directly to them or ask everyone in the class, whether it’s in Hazard or Louisville to participate in the discussion.”
Thanks to Hazard’s strong enrollment, Foster and Harshfield expect to continue teaching the ITV classes in the future. The students are doing extremely well in the courses, which is setting them on a path toward a promising future, Foster said.