ELAC becomes more mobile

By Brian Villalba


Mobile computing is the primary focus of the Technology Master Plan at East Los Angeles College, as web-based educational pages are to be formatted for mobile usage.

The Technology Master Plan  is designed to lay out ELAC’s information technology goals and plans. The plan outlines the use of technology trends to increase student access to learning materials.

Specifically the plan seeks to take advantage of recent advances in mobile technology for the purposes of making learning information more accessible to ELAC students.

The Technology Master Plan will be implementing an Identification Management System that will replace the current Student Information System.

The ID Management system will consolidate all of the various login usernames and passwords so that students can navigate all the online services with fewer steps.  Gonzalo Mendoza, manager of ELAC’s Information Systems, said “We are working toward a single login.”

The library plans to make e-readers available for students in addition to the volumes currently in circulation.  There are plans to take advantage of the smart phones that are popular with students.  Some of these integrations are already in place.

E-readers come in a few different brands. The three most common e-readers are Amazon’s Kindle, Barnes & Noble’s Nook, and Apple’s iPad. The iPad is technically a tablet more than an e-reader, but it has both the Kindle application and the Nook app available for free download from the app store.

As each successive generation of e-readers comes out, they offer more features and functions of a tablet.

One of the main advantages of using an e-reader to study is that if students come across a word that they are not familiar with, they can get the definition immediately and resume reading with minimal interruption.

If the information that is being studied requires another text for clarification, then it would simply require the other text being pulled up from the e-reader. Essentially, students have the content of the Internet and library in a small, handheld device.

Etudes and Moodle are a web-based supplemental learning portal that allows collaboration and communication with students and professors. Etudes and Moodle allow a virtual communication with both the professor and other students that you would expect in the class.

There are forums for discussion and assignments can be assigned and submitted using the Etudes and Moodle. Quizzes can be assigned and graded using both platforms as well.  Etudes and Moodle also offer smartphone platform access.

The Etudes app is currently only available to students who use the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.  There are plans to make it available to Android platform users, but it will not be available in the immediate future.

The Moodle mobile app is available on both Apple-based devices and Android-based devices. Distance education is another primary focus of the Technology Master Plan.

A recording of a lecture allows a student the flexibility common in distance learning but it also provides in class students with the ability to recover notes when a class is missed.  Lecture capture comes in the form of an audio or video recording of the lecture.

Mendoza said, “We are looking to add that (lecture capture) for the nursing students.”

It would be uploaded as a podcast, downloadable audio file or YouTube video. The specifics of the plan have yet to be determined, but technology is a centerpiece tool of both online courses and in-class courses.

There are various infrastructure improvement plans, such as implementing redundancy protocols and expanding fiber optic bandwidth, and increasing wireless bandwidth to 10 GBs on campus to support the various multimedia learning platforms, will be implemented.

Mendoza said, “Buildings will have Internet from multiple sources, so that if one (source) goes down, they (Internet users) won’t even know.”

According to the Technology Master Plan, the budget cuts have not prevented the IT Department from advancing technology plans for ELAC.

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