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New COWs are Rolling

Marisa Fried, Staff Writer

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As fall semester is rolling around, so are COWs — Computers On Wheels, that is. Six of these wheeled boxes of laptops were added to the Humanities Building on Montgomery College’s Rockville Campus this year “in response to teachers’ pedagogy changing,” said Professor Elizabeth Benton, Chair of the English Department.

COWs enable students to work on papers and do research during class. “It’s a great teaching strategy because it gets students the resources they need right at their fingertips,” said Dean Rodney Redmond of the Humanities Department.

“I think that if we’re preparing students for the real world, for the workplace; it’s important to have a mix of traditional teaching and technology,” said Professor Keith Elphick of the English Department. He has been using COWs in his classes for about two years.

The COWs have also allowed teachers to adapt to the changing landscape of technology in education. More electronic resources can mean increased access to educational resources for both students and the public.

“Professor Cristina Butler, Department Chair of World Languages and Philosophy, and I […] both have writing-heavy courses and some of our courses are now OER so having computer access is very important to students and instruction,” said Professor Benton. “Teachers can always reserve computer lab space, but there’s just no guarantee that the space will be available.”

OER (Online Educational Resources) courses are free online teaching and learning tools accessible to anyone with a computer, according to the MC website. OER offered by MC include lectures, exercises, course modules, and full courses.

Professor Monica Mische of the English Department said she has had “no problems whatsoever!” with the COWs. She and Professor Tuere Marshall use a COW for their Guided Writing Labs, a new program this semester started in response to students expressing “a need for a welcoming physical space to work on writing assignments,” said Professor Mische.

Professor Timothy McWhirter of the World Languages and Philosophy Department began using COWs in his classes this fall, and he is “very happy with them,” he said. He particularly likes that students can use COWs to type their assignments and tests, rather than handwrite them.

“Grading this work when it is typed is much easier. I think it is also a more accurate measure of the student’s answers,” Professor McWhirter said.

The COWs started out paperless but have since been connected to printers in response to requests from some teachers in the South Campus building, said Professor Benton. “We have had no complaints.”

Professor Elphick said he “wouldn’t be surprised if all departments expressed interest in using COWs.”

The request for more COWs came from Professors Butler and Benton to the Dean’s office last spring semester, said Dean Rodney Redmond. There are now three COWs in the South Campus Building, six COWs in the Humanities Building, and one in the English and Reading Part-time Faculty Conference Room in Macklin Tower 226.

MC’s Rockville Campus was the last of the three MC campuses to acquire COWs.

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