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Greenfield Community College

GCC receives state grant to fund online education

GREENFIELD — A Greenfield Community College student can now earn an entire liberal arts associate degree from his or her home computer.

GCC has been awarded a $179,310 state grant, allowing the college to kick off a new online learning project and expand its online catalog to reach 60 courses next year.

The project — Increasing Online Learning for Greater Student Access and Success — will include about 30 new courses across multiple disciplines, an online adviser and new technology for both the on-campus humanities and writing learning lab and a technology-enhanced math classroom.

President Robert Pura said the grant — paid for by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education Performance Incentive Fund — will allow GCC to increase students’ access to affordable education.

“Providing online education is not enough, providing excellent online education is our goal,” he said.

Faculty members stressed that an online course can be just as rewarding as a traditional in-person course.

“This is coming at the perfect time for Greenfield Community College,” said Thom Simmons, an economics and business instructor at the college. “Students can be assured that taking an online course will not be a nameless, faceless experience. Rather, they will continue to experience the personal attention they deserve and expect.”

Even traditional English classes can be taught online, said Stephen Poulin, English department chair.

“Not only will you get 21st century curriculum delivered through a 21st century medium, you’ll also get an instructor who understands and operates within the unique student-focused culture of GCC,” he said. “It’s the best of both worlds — academic rigor that prepares students for work and school beyond GCC, and that recognizes the many-faceted life challenges our student population faces.”

The humanities and writing learning lab and technology-enhanced math classroom will receive technology enhancements, including upgrades to video streaming.

And with a college adviser focusing specifically on online content, students will have help in the transition from face-to-face learning to online education, officials said.

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