NCCU Team Earns Fellowship to Take Part in Global Teaching Project

Three members of the faculty and staff of North Carolina Central University have been selected as fellows to the State University of New York (SUNY) Center for Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) Institute. They will work with teams from universities in Europe and Africa to create and team-teach a course in jazz for students on their respective campuses.

Leading the NCCU team will be Lenora Z. Helm, a music professor who is also an accomplished jazz performer. She is joined by Emmanuel Oritsejafor, director of the Office of International Studies, and Dan Reis, multimedia designer in the Center for Teaching and Learning. The COIL Institute is a three-year project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The teams from each institution consist of a humanities faculty member, an instructional designer and international programs staff member. The NCCU team’s proposal was one of 22 chosen from more than 40 applications submitted, and the only one chosen from a historically black college or university.

The NCCU COIL fellows will partner with the University of South Africa in Pretoria and the Royal Academy of Music in Aarhus, Denmark (in partnership with Sibelius University in Finland). The fellows will work with peers at their partner institutions to create a course blending in-class and online delivery in a Globally Networked Learning Environment.

Globally networked learning is not a technology, but rather a new approach to teaching and learning that provides faculty and students the ability to communicate and collaborate directly and immediately with peers internationally using online tools. A Globally Networked Learning Environment is one that connects and engages students and faculty who are physically located in different parts of the world in a shared learning and teaching experience that increases global awareness and understanding.

Helm, Reis and Oritsejafor will take part in a three-day discipline-specific workshop at SUNY Global Center in New York City this fall and an eight-week online course on globally networked learning starting in the fall. They and their international partners will teach their course during the 2012 calendar year.

Helm said the course will embody jazz music appreciation, jazz history, and the influences of politics, language and commerce on the lives of jazz artists. The class that results will be tailored to the needs of each campus. The University of South Africa, Helm said, is primarily an online school that is just starting a jazz division, and the NCCU team will act as a liaison and mentor to help build the program. The focus at Danish university is more on musical performance.

“We’re the experts in jazz, and we’ll essentially be the senior partner,” Helm said, “but we get a great benefit out of it. Many of our students have limited financial resources and don’t have the opportunity to study abroad. This will give them a study-abroad experience, whether by physical travel or through the portal of this class. They’ll be able to experience the culture of those other countries.”

According to Helm, creating a classroom environment to explore cultures through jazz presents a unique opportunity to learn what students know, and want to know about each other. Though originating in America, jazz is enjoyed worldwide, and in some respects enjoys higher regard abroad than domestically. The Jazz Studies program at NCCU has earned international acclaim, and has a renowned faculty that includes artist-in-residence and NEA Jazz Master Branford Marsalis.