“Education is the best investment that you can make in yourself, and ACC offers the best value for that investment. Now, more than ever before, it is easier to fit an ACC degree plan into your life, and Great Questions is an excellent start to that journey” says Ted Hadzi-Antich Jr., ACC Associate Professor of Government.
The landscape of higher education is shifting. More students want options to find the classes they need. This fall, ACC will fully reopen with a balanced blend of in-person and online learning options. For the first time, students can find classes that were once only offered in-person, in online or hybrid formats — meaning they do some coursework online and meet on campus for other hands-on activities.
ACC faculty are getting creative — using the lessons learned over 2020 — to make it happen.
“As a faculty, we spent a ton of time really working hard to make Great Questions a valuable experience online. I can say that it has been remarkably successful. Our students told us how much they appreciated this class, many reporting on surveys that it was their favorite”
Ted Hadzi-Antich Jr. leads the college’s Great Questions Seminar program at ACC. It’s the only college readiness course of its kind in the nation at a community college, and it is supported by a generous grant from the Teagle Foundation. The course qualifies as an alternative to the EDUC 1300 Student Success course and introduces students to college. In lieu of textbooks and other standard classroom reading materials, the class features discussion-based learning focused on transformative texts.
“People hear about this option and think it’s for elite students or something community college students can’t handle, which just isn’t true. Not only can our students handle discussing and writing about authors like Homer and Plato, they tell us that doing so is among their most valuable early academic experiences.”
The big hurdle in the past year was taking a discussion-based class and turning it into a fully online environment.
“We held a grant-funded summer institute for all great questions faculty that would be teaching in the fall and spring semester. Together, we found a way to redesign assignments for remote learning environment.”
Together, the group also developed a website where students can look through different units, find presentations, and record their projects. To keep the discussions alive, faculty worked with Zoom breakout rooms and trained on digital technology to take the place of drawing on a board for mathematical demonstrations.
“It was important to take the stress off students in an already stressful time. We designed an asynchronous element, so students could join the weekly discussion. However, if they couldn’t make it for any reason we didn’t want them to be penalized. These turned out to have a very high turnout, and our students enjoyed the time to interact with each other and faculty.”
The success of the course is finding its way across the college.
“I am working with faculty from several departments, like mathematics, communication studies, drama, political science, and English, to bring the Great Seminars model to their programs. We're working to redesign curricula to be at least 50 percent discussion-based and focused on exploring transformative texts. It’s a new way of learning at ACC, and it’s called the Great Questions Journey.”
The college continues to expand on-campus and online options so students have more choices. Registration for fall is now open for everyone.
One-on-one support for applying and enrolling remains available to help students through the application and registration process. For information, visit austincc.edu/fall.