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Second Life Mashup Helps Boost Distance Ed Retention at Huntington JC

Huntington Junior College (HJC) in West Virginia has gone public with its year-long early-adopter use of Campus Management's CampusLearning, a suite of services that provides for real-time, two-way integration between proprietary portals and student information systems and the Moodle open source course management systems.

Simultaneously, the college has created a "social presence" using a mashup of Second Life and Moodle, called Sloodle, in coordination with Campus Management's student information system. The school said its virtual campus enhances faculty-student interaction while automating management of rosters, grades, drop/adds, and other administrative chores. Students log in once to the college's portal, and can leap into their Second Life campus, attend class, and participate in online cafe conversations.

"The integration of Moodle through the CampusLearning program has delivered on its promise of improving the academic and administrative landscape at HJC," said Cathy Snoddy, assistant director at Huntington. "The student information system has to let you understand and manage your students. Campus Management recognizes the trends in education; the people who work there are smart. They know students need 24/7 access to their records and course information, so they developed the portal aspects to CampusLearning that help facilitate interaction and keep people and departments better connected. That's what makes this relationship work."

Since the inauguration of Campus Management's early adopter program, the school reports a 16 percent increase in its retention of students in its online programs, improving persistency to 80 percent. Faculty report a 50 percent reduction in administrative workloads, tied to Campus Management's bi-directional links between its CampusVue student administrative system and Moodle.

"We are trying to overcome the distance you feel in distance education by being socially connected," Snoddy said. "You develop socially as well as intellectually in college. That is the challenge for all educators. CampusLearning helps make the relationship real between students and HJC no matter where learning takes place."

Nine other institutions are using CampusLearning to complement or replace proprietary learning management systems. Most recently, Huertas Junior College deployed the integrated system in both English and Spanish, using Campus Management's support for Moodle's language pack.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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