The Center for Educational Innovation was the first academic building to be built at New England College in 30 years. Its presence is helping NEC make the transition from a traditional liberal arts college with professional programs to a technologically cutting-edge, comprehensive liberal arts center for learning. The CEI is also an outward and visible sign to the campus community, our alumni, and the world beyond that NEC is a growing and vital institution that anticipates the future educational needs of its students.
The CEI contains state-of-the-art classrooms, equipped with the latest in technology. Each classroom and large seminar room has facilities for receiving broadcasts from DVD, VCR, and Internet sources, as well as computer projection equipment. In addition, each classroom contains computer ports that connect the students in the classroom as a single user group with the instructor and also allow students individually to connect to the campus network. This greatly enhances the College's ability to provide technology-assisted instruction that is beneficial for several reasons:
First, many students are visual learners. With the CEI's ability to deliver multiple types of direct video to each student, visual learners will benefit.
Second, the CEI allows the in-class incorporation of simulation and animation that enables the College to offer laboratory exercises that we cannot (or choose not to) offer on campus. In biology, for example, students learn about human and animal physiology and anatomy through dissection simulation, without the college needing to have expensive (and controversial) animal handling capabilities. In business, students run multiple "what-if" scenarios of corporate financial decisions.
Third, technology allows faculty and students in classes to interact with persons and groups that are located far from the college. This has opened up a huge range of possibilities in various programs. Classes studying about the Middle East can be linked to students or experts in Israel and the Arab world, broadening their perspectives and understanding of the materials. Students studying about juvenile delinquency can link up with clinicians at state facilities. Students have been able to engage in long-distance internships. This enhances the "real-world" aspects of the courses and majors. All these benefits resonate with the multiple learning styles of students that thrive at NEC.
NEC is also able to supply courses from Henniker to remote locations, thereby expanding program availability in off-site locations.
NEC's fastest growing major, education, is housed on the second floor of the CEI. The College has a first rate teacher education program and which will soon be able to provide education students the type of high-tech facilities they will be expected to use in the elementary and secondary schools. With New Hampshire and other states experiencing major teacher shortages, NEC’s undergraduate and graduate education programs are in high demand and very visible. The College is now able to position itself at the leading edge in providing future teachers the skills and tools they need in today's classrooms. NEC teachers have hands-on training in the use of "smart boards,” participate in computer assisted learning in a variety of subjects, and are involved in online discussions, monitored by their supervisory teacher over the Internet and participate in teleconferenced classes and conferences. They are able to design their own uses for the multimedia equipment that are available to them: DVD, VCR, LCD projectors and computers linked into Local Area Networks (LANS) give the teacher access to student computers. NEC’s newly minted teachers are some of the College’s best ambassadors to students and parents with whom they work.
The two second-floor classrooms in the CEI are also technologically robust, and allow pre-service teachers to model integrating educational technology in their curriculum development. Additionally, there is a workroom, where students are able to create instructional materials for their own use and testing. The technology in the CEI allows education majors (as well as others) to form electronic links with elementary, middle school and secondary students, for interactive projects, covering a much wider geographical area. They are also able to interact with alumni from the education program, who serve as teaching mentors.
The observation room, equipped with video cameras and one-way windows, allows students in education, psychology and sociology to observe children's behavior and the effects of various teaching/counseling methods without intimidating the children or their responses, either live or on tape.
The CEI also allows the Education Department to host small conferences in their own facilities, which enhances their ability to interact with the various school districts.
Online Student Profiles
Another innovation that the CEI made possible was the production of online student portfolios. Plans are being developed so that every student could create an online portfolio that would document his growth and best work while at NEC. The portfolio might contain modules corresponding to all courses in the general education program, selected courses in the student's major, co-curricular activities (athletics, clubs, service-learning, etc.), internships, research, honors work and the like, and be kept online. The goal for the portfolios would be to showcase each student's accomplishments and to demonstrate the value of an NEC education. As such, the online portfolios will serve as marketing tools both for the students (in terms of finding a job upon graduation) and for the College.
Serve as a Training Center for Faculty and Staff
In order to use the new facilities to enhance the learning of our students, we may first need to improve the skills of our faculty and staff on the use of new technologies and the utilization of presentation software.
The CEI has opened up enormous possibilities for the College to integrate the newest available technologies with the personalized and diverse teaching methods for which it is known