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Education
UNC System Launches App That Provides Virtual Tour of 17 Campuses PDF Print E-mail
Education
By Administrator   
Thursday, 16 August 2018 09:36
 The University of North Carolina System has unveiled a new app that will allow users to take immersive virtual reality tours of each of the UNC System’s 16 universities. This innovative initiative, made possible through the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) NC program, marks the first wide-scale use of virtual reality to promote and facilitate college access.
 
The GEAR UP NC VR app is the first-of-its-kind and the largest VR project for social good to date. While other campuses have begun offering virtual tours, this marks the first time a university system has used the technology across all of its institutions. 
 
GEAR UP NC VR was created with the specific purpose of helping students in rural, low-wealth, and first-generation families engage with the decision-making and application processes other college-bound students face with more secure support systems. The app helps build a college-going culture across the state, encouraging students to aspire to higher education and connecting them with the institution that will help them attain their academic and personal goals.
 
“Many of us don’t fully appreciate that the campus visit is an accessibility issue. Without it, college can become a guessing game or, too often, a distant pipe dream,” says UNC System President Margaret Spellings. “This virtual reality technology gives every North Carolinian the opportunity to make more informed choices about where they want to go. Just as importantly, it helps them figure out how they’re going to get there.”
 
There is no charge for downloading or using the GEAR UP NC VR app, which is available in the Apple and Google stores. In addition, 21 GEAR UP high schools across the state will receive GEAR UP NC branded cardboard virtual reality headsets and earbuds—enough to ensure that each school can coordinate class-wide “tours.” Students will own the cardboard goggles, enabling them and their families to “visit” campuses multiple times to help in making a college decision.     
 
Free universal access to the content and the broad distribution of VR hardware ensure that many North Carolinians who might otherwise lack support, time, or financial means will be able to visit 16 institutions over the course of a single afternoon without disrupting their studies.
 
Students who access the app will find 16 short virtual reality videos, which highlight the unique features that characterize each institution. Anyone who does not have access to a VR headset will still be able to watch the 360 degree videos on a phone or computer, toggling controls to pan left and right, up and down.
 
The app’s architecture will also function as an information portal, directing users to institution-specific links, including websites, admissions pages, financial aid information and advising, and social media links.
 
The app’s landing page will feature tiles and short videos providing users with valuable information about what the college experience entails. These videos are tailored to a first-generation college student audience and explain the concept of a degree major, cover the basics of the application process, and broadly introduce users to the perks of campus life.
 
The undertaking began in January 2017 with a pilot project in collaboration with Missy Julian Fox, director of the UNC-Chapel Hill First Look program.  The First Look pilot evolved into the GEAR UP NC app’s capacity to accommodate all 16 UNC System campuses as well as the introductory tiles.  Since October 2017, the project has involved more than 500 hours of planning and about 350 hours of filming.  Editors sifted through 30 hours of raw footage to generate each institution’s final cut.
 
Funding for the project was provided by a national GEAR UP grant issued by the U.S. Department of Education.  
 
“GEAR UP NC faced a challenge of time, distance, and cost moving 21,000 GEAR UP students across the state for college visits.  We looked for a technology innovation to address our challenge, and we are very pleased with the app and content,” said Principal Investigator Dr. Carol Cutler White.  “We are researching the project to determine the impact on student motivation and knowledge of college.  In our next stage of development, we intend to incorporate chatbots with our AdmitHub partner to allow students to begin a discussion with campuses that interest them.  Eventually we’d like the app to have content from all of North Carolina’s community colleges and its private colleges and universities.  This expanded scope would provide a comprehensive view of college choice in NC.”
 
To develop the app, GEAR UP NC partnered with Associate Professor Steven King’s Emerging Technologies Lab at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Media and Journalism, a leader in virtual reality.  “We started with a proven learning framework developed by the First Look program at UNC-Chapel Hill and we expanded it by leveraging these new technologies to enable more students across the state to have this opportunity,” said King.
 
To create the virtual reality content, GEAR UP NC partnered with the Los Angeles-based storytelling agency SeeBoundless and the Emerging Technologies Lab to shoot and edit hundreds of hours of 360 degree video.  
 
The producers actively enlisted each institution’s admissions and communications teams to help author the scripts and choose shooting locations. This cooperative effort ensured that the app is comprehensive, offering a broad overview of the entire UNC System while also amplifying each institution’s unique identity. 
 
“We wanted to ensure the campuses had input on the planning, production, and final product so that the videos match the institution’s unique contribution to the UNC System,” said SeeBoundless founder Steve Johnson. “Campus leaders suggested locations and activities to film and also had input on the script to make sure the video looked and felt authentic to their campus.”  
 
The GEAR UP VR app can be downloaded from the itunes store at  https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/gear-up-vr/id1390999670?mt=8 or from the Google Play store at https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.askmedia.gearup&hl=en_IN
It can also be found in the Apple App store or the Google Play store by searching for GEAR UP VR.
 
Sample video files can also be downloaded at https://www.dropbox.com/sh/6tfpdxp86pz57tp/AABP6zr2NeGpDkEGcF0Qt_uPa?dl=0
 
Gaston College Adds Degree Focusing On Substance Abuse Concentration PDF Print E-mail
Education
By Administrator   
Thursday, 16 August 2018 09:17
The Gaston College Human Services Technology program is introducing a new Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree track, Human Services Technology—Substance Abuse Concentration. Classes start in the fall 2018 semester, which begins on August 20. 
 
The Substance Abuse concentration prepares students to assist in drug and alcohol counseling, prevention-oriented educational activities, rehabilitation with recovering clients, managing community-based programs, counseling in residential facilities, and pursuit of four-year degrees.
 
Course work will include classroom and experiential activities oriented toward an overview of chemical dependency, psychological/sociological process, the 12 Core Functions of a Substance Abuse Professional (Screening, Intake, Orientation, Assessment, Treatment Planning, Counseling, Case Management, Crisis Intervention, Client Education, Referrals, Report and Record Keeping, and Consultation with Other Professionals), intervention techniques with individuals in groups, and follow-up activities with recovering clients.
 
Graduates of the program should qualify for positions as substance abuse counselors, DUI counselors, halfway house workers, residential facility employees, and substance education specialists. With educational and clinical experiences, graduates can obtain certification by the North Carolina Substance Abuse Board.
 
“The Gaston College Human Services Technology Program is offering the new Substance Abuse Concentration A.A.S. degree in response to the N.C. substance abuse treatment provider shortage, the current opioid epidemic, and requests from the community of service providers and people interested in helping those who struggle with addiction,” said Ann Elliott, Department Chair of Human Services and Early Childhood Education.
 
Classes meet on the Gaston College Kimbrell campus in Belmont, N.C. For more information about the Human Services Technology program and the Substance Abuse Concentration, contact Ann Elliott at 704-922-2382 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or visit www.gaston.edu/health-human-services/human-services-technology.
 
Last Updated on Thursday, 16 August 2018 09:24
 
Governor Praises C.D. Spangler's Legacy PDF Print E-mail
Education
By Administrator   
Wednesday, 08 August 2018 09:34

RALEIGH: Governor Roy Cooper released the following statement today on the passing of former UNC President C.D. Spangler:

"Dick Spangler was a champion for public education as a member of his local school board, chairman of the State Board of Education and president of our great university system. We will miss his courage, innovation and inspiration."

Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 August 2018 09:52
 
Grants Available To Help Community College Students Finish Studies PDF Print E-mail
Education
By Administrator   
Thursday, 02 August 2018 09:07
The state has launched the Finish Line Grants program to help community college students who face unforeseen financial emergencies complete their training. The program will leverage up to $7 million in federal funds to help students pay for course materials, housing, medical needs, dependent care, or other financial emergencies that students may face through no fault of their own.
 
Grants will be available for the 2018-2019 school year. Every community college in North Carolina may participate in the Finish Line Grants program but is not required to do so. Community colleges and workforce development boards will collaborate to apply for funding and will establish a joint process for reviewing funding requests from students who have completed 75 percent of their degree or credential. Community college students may receive a maximum of $1,000 per semester by contacting their community colleges’ financial aid office or their local NCWorks Career Center to apply.
 
“Many community college students juggle work, family, and life, so financial emergencies can bring their school work to a halt,” said Peter Hans, president of the North Carolina Community College System. “A Finish Line Grant could make all the difference to helping a student complete their degree or credential.”
 
Data is not kept on specific reasons for failure to complete training programs, so it is difficult to get an exact count of how many individuals could be served through the Finish Line Grants program. However, some community colleges currently administer emergency grants that have helped thousands of students complete their training or credential program. Many of these emergency grant programs are funded by faculty and staff and cannot serve all the students currently in need.
 
A recent Wake Tech graduate, Adam Leach, benefitted from a program similar to Finish Line Grants and is now working as a nurse at UNC REX Healthcare.
 
“Without the Wake Tech Completion Scholarship, I would have never graduated. This is the help I needed. My wife and I knew if we could just get through these hard but temporary times and graduated then things would be alright. Now I am an RN at WakeMed in Raleigh, my wife is a radiography technician, and we made it,” said Leach.
 
The funding for this program will come from the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).
 
Last Updated on Thursday, 02 August 2018 10:40
 
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