IUP Employment and Labor Relations Program “Zooming” in on New Technology for Students

Posted on 10/27/2015 2:02:03 PM

Employment and Labor Relations Classroom Using Zoom Technology

Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Employment and Labor Relations is using a unique technology that brings students into the classroom via “Zoom” technology. This technology allows an almost unlimited number of students to be live on screen in the classroom, and to interact with the professor and other class members in real time. Students “appear” on screen and can interact with persons in the classroom and with each other.

The department chair compares it to the opening credits of The Brady Bunch.

While the technology has been effective and has been very well received by students and faculty, David Piper, chair of the department, is quick to point out that the innovative use of technology is a tool, not a means to an end.

“Our program is designed for the working professional and for the full-time student that prefers a total in-classroom experience, and this technology has allowed us to meet that goal,” Piper said.

IUP’s program leads to a master of arts in employment and labor relations or a master of science in health services administration.

“This medium offers the opportunity for students who can’t get to the classroom or who prefer delivery via technology, but maintains the ability for us to offer the rich classroom experience for everyone. This means that students are part of discussions, real-time videos, and even quizzes. Those students who are part of the ‘virtual classroom’ through technology, for example, can text in answers or responses to questions.”

This also means that students can attend classes in person at four different sites: IUP’s Indiana campus; IUP’s Monroeville Center; IUP’s Northpointe campus (Armstrong County), or at the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Dixon Center in Harrisburg.

“While the professor will be at just one of the locations, students can come to any one of the four sites, and can attend class at the site that is the most convenient for them on that day, Piper said.

The technology also allows experts from all over the world to be part of the classes, as well as allowing access to the program by international students.

“We were careful to choose a synchronous learning program for our classes, which is very different from an online course,” Piper said. “Part of our labor relations program, for example, is conflict resolution, and we’ve successfully used Zoom to have those role-playing exercises between a student in the classroom and a student attending via technology,” Piper said.

The IUP program has been using technology for the past two and a half years, but added Zoom during the spring 2015 semester. “The clarity of the product is amazing, it really feels like you are there in the classroom. You can access it through any sort of mobile device, so it really is convenient for the student. It’s also free and easy to access.”

Piper even used the technology for the program’s first Decision Night event in August. Decision Night allows students to apply and receive a decision at the time of the application.

“We had a mixture of students who applied in person and who applied via Zoom,” Piper said. “It was great.”

IUP will be offering a Decision Night again on November 2 from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the Monroeville, Northpointe and Indiana sites and online through the virtual classroom. Persons are asked to register online. Links to the Zoom app are available on that page.

For more information, persons may call (724) 357-4470.

Both programs have rolling admission, so students can start the program in any semester.

The Master of Arts program in Employment and Labor Relations is a multidisciplinary program designed to prepare professionals for a career in the field of employment and labor relations. In this field, job opportunities can be found in the public and private sector in management, unions, government agencies, and neutral and service organizations. IUP’s program has graduated more than 1,100 professionals since its inception in 1977.

The IUP Master of Science program in Health Services Administration, a collaboration between IUP’s Department of Employment and Labor Relations and the Department of Nursing and Allied Health Professions, offers courses to develop marketable skills in human resources, health care delivery, and health care administration. This degree can lead students into leadership positions in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, insurance companies, and health organizations (nonprofit and for-profit).

Photo information: Michael Korns, professor in the Employment and Labor Relations Department, in front of the “Zoom” board.