The Community College Conundrum: How to Serve More Students with Limited Capacity and Reduced Budgets?

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Wimba Solutions Expand Capacity, Improve the Student Experience, and Increase Revenue for almost 200 Community Colleges

Wimba® Inc., the education technology company that helps people teach people, announced today that hundreds of community colleges - including those part of statewide systems - leverage the Wimba Collaboration Suite™ to address the myriad of challenges and opportunities resulting from the current economic climate. By catering to the thousands of adults returning to college to update professional skills, pursue new careers or select a more affordable pathway to a four-year degree, community colleges across the country have seen a tremendous surge in enrollment. This increase has created a conundrum for two-year institutions tasked with serving more students with less state funding and a limited number of instructors and classrooms.

"The role community colleges play in offering educational, vocation and transfer programs has never been more critical than in today's economy," said Carol Vallone, CEO and Chairman of the Board at Wimba. "We are pleased that so many colleges benefit from Wimba's collaborative solutions - offering greater capacity and real ROI to the college - while enhancing the learning experience for a growing number of students."    

Increasing Capacity and Revenue - Brick and Mortar Not Required

Since the fall of 2008, both individual community colleges and state systems have experienced substantial increases in enrollment. At the same time, budgets have been significantly reduced so that neither physical space nor faculty headcount can grow accordingly. Wimba's collaborative technologies - which include audio, video, podcasting, application sharing and instant messaging - ensure online learning is as lively and interactive as face-to-face instruction. A community college's investment in Wimba means they can serve more students and realize the fiscal benefits of higher enrollment without the much more costly investment and time requirements of building a larger physical campus.

At Delaware Technical and Community College, for example, capacity issues led college leaders to develop creative solutions that include the Wimba Collaboration Suite - thereby maximizing classroom space at the three campuses across the state.

"The convenience of video-over IP could be a critical tool for community colleges," said Robert H. Messner, CTO of Delaware Technical and Community College. "It's certainly going to be the way community colleges deal with their space issues. You can essentially make the most out of all the space in the entire state. It really has got to be the way of the future for instruction."

At Pima Community College in Tucson, the fifth largest community college in the country, enrollment grew by 11 percent over last year. Pima leverages Wimba Voice™ for its online language courses. According to Pima Community College Instructional Designer Leonard Thurman, Wimba has helped to increase student retention and outcomes.

"When you use any kind of voice tool, the retention is just as high as in a face-to-face class," said Thurman, adding that learning and outcomes are just about the same as in online classes compared to face-to-face. "We wouldn't be offering online language instruction if we did not have Wimba--it's just that simple."

Improving the Student Experience

With large populations of non-traditional students and a growing number of part-time and adjunct professors, community colleges can be tough environments to foster and maintain connected learning communities. Wimba Pronto™, an academic instant messaging platform, enables blended audio and video, online office hours, group study sessions and school services - instantly connecting distance learners to each other, to instructors and to school administrators so that both on- and off-campus students have a rich student experience.

At Ivy Tech Community College (ITCC), the largest accredited school in North America with more than 100,000 students and 14 regional sites throughout Indiana, there is great enthusiasm for the power of Wimba Pronto to connect students and instructors.

Bonnie Willy, Associate Professor of Computer Information Systems and Computer Information Technology, uses Wimba Pronto for peer-to-peer and student collaboration. "I love Pronto! It's honest-to-God the one tool that revolutionized my relationship with my students and with my colleagues."

Learn more about how the Wimba Collaboration Suite improves teaching and learning for Community Colleges by watching the following video highlighting Southern State Community College, Centennial College, and Pima Community College. (Click here to view the video:

About Wimba®
Wimba® is a leading provider of collaborative software for distance and blended learning. The Wimba Collaboration Suite, recently awarded the 2009 "Best Education Solution" CODiE award by SIIA, enhances learning, improves outcomes and increases student retention. By combining interactive technologies such as voice, video, podcasting, instant messaging, application sharing, polling and whiteboarding, learning communities are empowered with a unique collaborative environment that fosters dynamic student-to-instructor, student-to-student, and instructor-to-instructor interaction. Our seamless integration with leading course management systems ensures that users have a simplified and familiar workflow. Wimba. People Teach People.

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Kathleen Matthews
Wimba, Inc.
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Erin Auci
DBC PR+New Media
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