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   from the issue of February 23, 2006

  ITLE project helps first-years prepare for college experience

Interactive disc brings campus home


A project aided by ITLE funds is providing an information jump-start for a select group of incoming freshmen.

FINISHED PRODUCT - Dan Schmit, instructional technology specialist with the College of Education and Human Sciences, led the development of the...
 FINISHED PRODUCT - Dan Schmit, instructional technology specialist with the College of Education and Human Sciences, led the development of the "CEHS Experience," CD-ROM that was made possible by ITLE funds. The disc offers first-year students a number of information sources in an interactive residence hall room (pictured in the background). Photo by Troy Fedderson/University Communications.

Distributed last summer to 500 high school graduates preparing for a first year in the College of Education and Human Sciences, a CD-ROM offered an opportunity to explore an interactive residence hall room. Inside that room, students are able to click on a variety of information sources directly related to UNL and the college.

"What we were looking for was to get information to our new students in a different way," said Dan Schmit, instructional technology specialist in the college who led the ITLE project. "We wanted to give them the chance to learn about campus and hit the ground running when they arrived here."

The project targets the summer lull between new student enrollment and reporting for class as the key period to provide this information.

"Our rationale was this is information that students needed and that it is time sensitive," said Marjorie Kostelnik, dean of the college. "If our students received it in the fall semester, then we would miss our window of opportunity. However, if we get it to students in the summer, it is still valuable and interesting to them."

Titled the "CEHS Experience," the CD-ROM provides information ranging from where to park and buy books to background on the college and how to hook up computers to the UNL network. Each information source is linked to specific items in the room - for example a parking sign for parking, a television that shows a video in which Kostelnik introduces them to the college and even a radio that plays the Husker fight song (with lyrics).

Among the key topics addressed is the need for students to meet regularily with academic advisers.

Photographs on walls and bulletin boards also provide insight from students already enrolled in the college.

"Those portraits are among the most effective things in the room," said Schmit, who has conducted focus groups with students on the CD-ROM. "They offer advice on safety, technology, to be prepared for class, and study skills tips.

"The students we talked to responded well to peers offering that type of advice."

Schmit polled 54 freshmen who received the disc. Out of that sampling, 98 percent said they learned new information and all 54 thought the disc was helpful. Also, 20 percent said their parents also journeyed into the virtual residence hall room.

KNOW THE WORDS - The "CEHS Experience" CD-ROM features information in an interactive residence hall room, including this Husker fight song sing-along. The CD-ROM was developed with an ITLE award of $18,000. Photo by Troy Fedderson/University Communications.


"That was great because parents are a secondary audience for us," Schmit said. "We believe this is a great resource for them as well."

The ITLE grant award was for $18,000 and is good for two years. Based on reports from students - both those who received the disc and those upperclassmen who have reviewed it - Schmit is revising the CD-ROM for a second version that will be distributed this summer.

Others involved in the ITLE project are Kostelnik, Fayrene Hamous (Nutrition and Health Sciences), Jim Walter (Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education), Jim Cotter (Education and Human Sciences) and Karen Kildare (Education and Human Sciences). Schmit said CBA graduate John Wooten - now stationed in Iraq - also provided assistance on the project as a Flash developer.

Along with providing necessary information, Kostelnik said the ITLE-funded project goes beyond being a point of reference. She said it shows that the college is tech savvy and is willing to reach out to individual first-year students.

"We're providing our students with a heads up, so when they get here they already have this good information under their belt," Kostelnik said. "But, this CD-ROM also tells our students that we are thinking about them even before they get here, that they are very special to us.

"That is a very important message for us to get across."

ITLE - A special four-page section highlighting the 15 proposals receiving ITLE funds for 2005-2006 along with progress updates on projects awarded funds last year, is available as PDFs below. Additional information on the initiative is available online at

PDFs of the ITLE special section:
Page One
Page Two
Page Three
Page Four



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