College of the Canyons becomes state clearinghouse for distance-learning captioning funding disbursement.
College of the Canyons has been awarded a five-year, roughly $3.9 million, Distance Education Captioning and Transcription for California Community Colleges grant — designating COC as the statewide clearinghouse for the funding of all captioning activities within the 110-member California Community College (CCC) system.
The grant funds — which will come in five annual $780,000 disbursements — will be used to contract outside captioning venders to assist community colleges across the state that are in need of captioning and transcription services for their distance education programs. Funds may also be used to reimburse community colleges that have contracted such services directly themselves.
“This grant will allow College of the Canyons to be of great service to the entire California Community College System,” said James Glapa-Grossklag, COC dean of distance learning programs and training. “The other 109 community colleges, as well as our own faculty and staff, will be looking to COC to support their efforts, and that’s very exciting.
“It’s an opportunity to work on a statewide scale to promote the values we believe so strongly in here at College of the Canyons.”
The main objective of the grant is to expand and ensure student access to distance education courses and programs throughout the CCC system. Though such programs are developed for the use of all students, the ability to provide captioning capabilities to educational materials — including instructional DVDs, Webcasts, power-point presentations, podcasts and other audio-visual materials — is especially beneficial to a college’s disabled and ESL (English as Second language) student populations.
“Oftentimes, material is covered in the classroom in a quick and furious manner. Sometimes material it’s presented only in a visual way. Sometimes material is presented only in an oral way,” Glapa-Grossklag said. “But one of the most important ways to ensure that material is available to, and understood by, all types of students is to provide captioning.”
Glapa-Grossklag went on to highlight some of the ways captioning could be utilized by students, likening the service to the captioning option featured on most TV sets and included on home DVDs. “Essentially those captions are then accessible to somebody who is hearing impaired, or a student with a learning disability who can now review those written words as many times as they need before moving on,” he said.
“The same would apply to an ESL student,” said Glapa-Grossklag, adding that with the use of “screen reader” computer software, which reads written text aloud to users, even blind students could reap the benefits of such captioning services. “So it gives a large number of students more access to educational content.”
According to Glapa-Grossklag, distance education comprises the fastest growing educational delivery mode within the CCC system. But in order to provide access to all students and to comply with federal and state law, some components of distance education classes are required to provide captioning or transcription services. As a result that high cost obligation is sometimes perceived to be a challenge in the development and delivery of high-quality, media-rich distance learning courses.
“Most colleges don’t have the financial ability to pay for captioning services, it’s a somewhat costly proposition,” Glapa-Grossklag said. “As a result, many faculty members and instructors aren’t able to engage their creativity the way they like to — they’re not able to offer their students as rich an educational pallet as they would like to.”
Therefore a second goal of the grant will be to promote and encourage faculty innovation that would allow instructors the ability to introduce more and more captioned multimedia educational materials into the classroom.
“Hopefully this grant will help support that spark of creativity, that spark of innovation,” said Glapa-Grossklag, “which would allow faculty members who want to integrate more of these types of materials into their classroom the ability to do so.”