JSU faculty redesigning curriculum for 21st century students

PRID committee members work on curriculum redesign in INNOVATE in the H.T. Sampson Library on JSU's campus.

PRID committee members work on curriculum redesign in the INNOVATE center in the H.T. Sampson Library on JSU’s campus.

This fall, incoming freshmen will be introduced to a new learning system based on Jackson State University’s CyberLearning initiative.  Jackson State faculty members who will be teaching this first cohort of students have been working over the summer to prepare the technology-based curriculum.

CyberLearning at JSU uses technology to stimulate creativity and innovation in teaching and learning throughout the JSU community.

Dr. Robert Blaine

Dr. Robert Blaine

“In this newer landscape of ubiquitous information, a university can no longer be a gatekeeper for information.  It’s no longer just about how you access information, but how you use that information to create new knowledge,” explained Dr. Robert Blaine, special assistant to the Provost for CyberLearning.

Thus far, the CyberLearning initiative has included the provision of iPads for incoming freshmen, the integration of digital textbooks and the spring opening of Innovate, the new digital content production center for faculty.  It’s located in the H.T. Sampson Library.

Using Innovate, groups of faculty and staff have been preparing for the launch of the next phase of CyberLearning  - redesigning and implementing a holistic approach to technology-based higher education.

The faculty committee responsible for this redesign is called Pedagogical Redevelopment of Instructional Design (PRID).  PRID began with the redevelopment of 100 level general education courses.  The working group met weekly during the Spring Semester and received input from their respective departments.  This summer, a new PRID group meets daily in Innovate to develop content and resources for their courses.

The faculty members teach English, Biology, College Algebra, Speech, Computer Science and intermediate courses in Reading, Writing and Math.  This ensures the curriculum will be integrated.

“We’re all implementing some of the same learning outcomes to show a bridge across disciplines.” said Althea Woodson, instructor of Intermediate

PRID committee members work on curriculum redesign in INNOVATE in the H.T. Sampson Library on JSU's campus.

PRID committee members Cassandra Hawkins-Wilson and Althea Woodson work on curriculum redesign in INNOVATE.


PRID committee members are also dedicated to creating more technology-based curriculum.  The courses they redesign will rely on the digital textbooks designed by the committee. These multi-touch books include audio, video and interactive tools and support a curriculum that is project- and problem-based.

“We’re working on foundational skills, but we’re also doing real-world applications where students are able to exercise what they know,” explains Cassandra Hawkins-Wilson, instructor of Developmental English.

And that’s where Create comes into play.

Create, a technology-based student learning center, will provide space and resources for students to discuss, conceive, realize and eventually create virtually or physically.  Students will be able to exercise and explore problems and ideas that come out of their courses.  On July 1, the construction of Create will begin in the H.T. Sampson Library. The center will be open for this fall semester.

Some faculty members are excited about how this new approach with digital textbooks and a student learning center will impact students.

“They will no longer have the excuse that they’re waiting on teachers to be the sole facilitator of the learning.  The student will now have enough resources. The new process will teach them to go out and find sources and evaluate what’s reliable.  It’s going to have a huge impact,” said Woodson.

The following faculty members are in PRID:

  • Candace Brown, Instructor of Speech Arts
  • Summer Graves, Project Coordinator of the Richard Wright Center
  • Jacqueline Jackson, Associate Professor of Computer Science
  • Alicia Jefferson, Instructor of Mathematics and Statistical Sciences
  • Laura McDavitt, Instructor of Speech and Communication
  • Laura Miller, Instructor of English
  • Gloria Miller, Assistant Professor of Biology
  • Everett Neasman, Associate Professor of English
  • Candis Pizzetta, Assistant Professor of English
  • Angela Robinson, Instructor of English
  • Jana Talley, Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Statistical Sciences
  • Ella Moore-Boyd, Instructor of Reading
  • Shirley Burnett, Instructor of Developmental Math and Intermediate Algebra
  • Cassandra Hawkins-Wilson, Instructor of Developmental English
  • Linda Wheeler, Instructor of English
  • Althea Woodson, Instructor of Intermediate Algebra

The work that PRID is doing is putting Jackson State in the national spotlight.

“It’s this creative process that is the nexus of where higher education has to move in the 21st century. Jackson State is taking a leadership role,” Blaine said. “Historically Black Colleges and Universities have not really had an opportunity to be in a leadership role on a national conversation about where education is going. This opportunity for us is a game changer.”

To see layout plans for Create, click here.
To see layout for Innovate, click here.

Related story: Dr. Robert Blaine leads JSU’s Cyberlearning Initiative
Related story: Faculty, staff and elected officials tour Innovate

Photos of Innovate at the H.T. Sampson Library

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