Community College of Aurora capped 2012 by being awarded nearly $435,000 in grant funding from the state system that governs community colleges in Colorado. The funds will grow the college’s already burgeoning immersive and game-based learning curriculum.
In total, CCA now has nine such initiatives in the works or past the approval stage, with four other grant funding projects gaining approval last April totaling nearly $375,000.
Community College of Aurora values innovative teaching and providing students with new ways of learning that help them not only learn about skills but apply and practice them.
One notable example of that methodology was employed in the spring of 2012, when departments ranging from Anthropology, Criminal Justice, Paralegal, Biology and Chemistry united curriculum for a project entitled “CSI: Aurora.” That project included two different crime scenes that necessitated the excavation, examination and interpretation of evidence for a fake crime. A mock criminal case against a defendant was hatched based on those analyses.
That project helped make the grant opportunities and learning possibilities more understandable to other faculty at CCA, who began to apply for Colorado Community College System grants to enhance teaching and learning in their own subjects by embracing collaborative and innovative approaches.
The notion of incorporating hands-on training isn’t new to Community College of Aurora. The advent of the Center for Simulation and the inclusion of realistic portrayals in the Emergency Medical Services program ignited the spark that has led to student experiences that expand the reach of classroom learning and teach students about the ways what they learn is connected to the real world.
Some highlights of projects that are a result of these game-based and immersive grants currently include:
• The Apprentice Project, which mirrors itself after the popular NBC reality show. Teams of approximately 10 students across four departments – Film, Art and Design, Business and Computer Science / Information Technology – will collaborate on real-life case studies for community organizations to launch a new business project.
• Virtual Studio System, which transforms the student experience in the creation of original content from an act of personal expression to an act of communication to a generalized audience through the real world economic market conditions and considerations in the creative process.
• Law and Order: EDU, which converts a classroom into a fully functioning courtroom and gives Paralegal and Criminal Justice programs an opportunity to allow students to experience the law in a real-life setting and gives them the practical skills necessary to assist in litigation.
• Model United Nations, which immerses students into the practice of international politics and diplomacy by interdisciplinary cooperation including Political Science, Psychology, Anthropology, ESL, History and Communications covers public speaking, research methodology, written communication, group engagement and the development of international public policy.
“What’s really amazing about them is that while some of them are about cutting-edge technology, they range across a whole variety of programs, all of our divisions, and all kinds of faculty,” said Chris Ward, the college’s Executive Director of Grants and Planning. “To me, this is a real testimony to the importance of vision and investing in faculty development that helps people see the value in this, and now we’re bearing the fruits of that.”