MCC Daily Tribune
President's Wednesday Message
As promised last week, answers to more of your questions.
Is the book store a non-profit department? I have heard many students complaining about the cost of books. They can rent them or buy used and even new books online for much less. Our book store should have more used and rental books. And certainly should not be making a profit!
The MCC Bookstore is part of the MCC Association, a not-for-profit corporation, so I turned to its Executive Director Ginny Geer-Mentry to learn more about Bookstore operations.
The bookstore always looks at ways to reduce the cost of textbooks. It sells as many used and rental textbooks as possible. If faculty have requested only the new edition or an edition bundled with specific online codes or resources, however, it may not be able to offer the used version. The bookstore also offers printed versions of open educational resource (OER) texts as well as online versions of texts. In addition, it provides students with ISBN numbers for textbooks so that they can compare costs at other stores and online.
As with all auxiliary services provided by the MCC Association, the bookstore budgets for a small surplus on an annual basis. To provide the funds necessary to renovate facilities, give back to student life, and create a reserve for disasters like last year's wind damage to the residence halls and child care center, the Association's annual revenues typically are larger than annual costs. With the increase in use of OER and rentals, though, revenue from textbooks has declined significantly, and the bookstore's surplus is now typically driven more by the sales of non-textbook items, like MCC clothing, backpacks, etc.
If you would like to view the Association's budget or financial statements, please reach out to Ginny Geer-Mentry. She would be happy to answer any questions.
We are trying to address retention from all fronts. But one that we don't seem to have a focus on is an infrastructure for basic technology training. What are we doing to help students who need to know how to effectively use a mouse, clicking, sending e-mail, responding, keyboarding? The new COS book has ramped up this information however what about those that don't take COS? Are we doing analytics to see if this is indeed a stumbling block? And then there is Online course - and hybrids drop out rates. Are our offerings even being communicated?
There are a number of questions and concerns raised here, and I reached out to staff in Academic Services to get the answers. I'll take the items one by one:
There are currently 73 courses that include MCC's Technological Literacy infused competency for General Education. The criterion for inclusion on this list is that the course "Use technology in discipline-specific ways to further educational or occupational goals." Last spring, a team also created a single source about MCC student technology; this document is included in both Orientation and the COS text, and is available online to be included in any course and/or shared with any student. In addition, MCC provides a number of just-in-time technology support services including the following:
- On the Brighton Campus, the Learning Resource Center (11-106) provides 1:1 assistance with computer software questions, and the Downtown Campus Learning Commons provides these services at that campus.
- The Student Technology Help Desk supports student technology access questions.
- The Library staff also answers technology questions for students using library computers.
- Students taking online courses also have access to the OpenSUNY Help Desk.
Assessment of Outcomes
MCC's assessment report on Technological Literacy Outcomes (VAPA Professor Randall Johnson, 2015) found that nearly 80% of the students in the sample either met or exceeded expectations. Student success in online courses has grown from 55% in Spring 2014 to 61% in Spring 2018, again meeting or exceeding similar on-campus data.
Communication of Online Course Availability
In addition to being listed on MCC's own Master Schedule, our online offerings are also listed on the Open SUNY website. Because of MCC's success in online education, Director of Instructional Technologies Larry Dugan and Provost Andrea Wade are playing lead roles in SUNY's current review of options to expand and enhance the system's online offerings.
We requested some class changes to the Spring 2019 master schedule before students start to enroll. This is very critical at the downtown site because there are fewer students and hence fewer section offered. However, we were told that September 7th was the deadline for all changes. We did not see the schedule until last week (this was sent on October 9). When this was questioned, we were told that the person who does these changes is on maternity leave, and no one else knows how to do this! Unbelievable! In a college this size, I assume that there is cross training. Hopefully, other people know how to manage this! Does anyone else know how to do the master schedule?
As I went in search of answers, it appears that the concern at the root of this set of questions arose from a miscommunication or misunderstanding across offices. I'm sorry for that.
September 7 was the deadline for requesting changes to Final Exam Rooms, not for changes to the Spring master schedule. The Spring 2019 master schedule was due to Records and Registration on October 17, providing time for revisions before it was finalized. And, while the individual who typically handles exam and master schedule requests is on leave, any changes should be sent to our Registrar Betsy Ripton.
You might still ask why it takes about six weeks to develop the schedule for final exams and assign rooms. I was a bit surprised to learn that all of this is done manually. We need to find a technology supported solution that could allow individual instructors to request final exam times and rooms and even update these requests as required. And we will.
Please share your comments in the blog.
Next month, I'll answer more of your questions on the blog and in the Message to the College Community. Thank you for sharing them.
Office of the President