The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

December 5, 2012

DACC instructors start statewide trend

BY CAROL ROEHM
Commercial-News

DANVILLE — Two Danville Area Community College instructors, who recognized their students needed more flexibility in their coursework, have launched a statewide trend.

DACC now is the first college in the state to offer a hybrid Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program approved by the Illinois Department of Public Health, thanks to the efforts of lead CNA instructor Shelby May and fellow CNA instructor Angela Harris.

May said she and Harris saw a need to offer more flexible online coursework options to their CNA students, but in the past the state department of health would not approve coursework that entailed teaching methods considered nontraditional.

Still, May said she saw a growing trend with all types of coursework moving to online or becoming hybrid — a mix of online and in-class study — and wanted to offer a hybrid CNA course at DACC.

“I saw it as a benefit to our students,” May said of being able to offer the basic classroom work online. “It improves flexibility for them.”

May and Harris spent a year developing the hybrid curriculum for the school’s CNA program, which combines online coursework with on-campus class time and clinicals. The hybrid program was presented to the Illinois Department of Public Health in April and approved by the state in July.

With DACC’s hybrid program, the main classroom portion now will be online, May said.

“The lectures are all online, and students will be able to watch videos online, take practice quizzes and answer questions online,” she said.

Since gaining approval for the hybrid CNA program, May said she knows of two other Illinois colleges that are piloting hybrid CNA programs similar to DACC’s and another college that is developing its own hybrid CNA curriculum.

DACC’s program will be piloted in the spring and summer semesters. May said some of the current CNA students who have heard about the new hybrid class said they wished the online option had been available to them when they went through the program.

The first cohort will begin Feb. 4, and will meet 2-6 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays. A minimum of three hours of online coursework will be required each week. Graduation for this cohort is set for May 23.

DACC’s CNA program, which graduates 300 to 350 annually, is a short-term certificate program designed to prepare students to provide basic health care in hospitals and nursing homes. There are no prerequisites for the program. A background check and testing for reading and math skill levels will be completed prior to registration.

Candidates for the hybrid cohort are self-motivated and determined to meet goals, have a desire for a healthcare career, have a compassionate and caring spirit, enjoy working with the elderly, have Internet experience (previous online coursework is a plus), a reliable computer with Internet access (or access to one) and reliable transportation to campus and clinical settings.