Instructor Prepares for First Classes at GGC

Dr. Spero Peppas is enthused about starting the first week of classes. Looking out over the wooded campus of Georgia Gwinnett College, which opened last Friday in Lawrenceville, Ga., the first professor hired at GGC sees an exciting future unfolding.

Dr. Spero Peppas is enthused about starting the first week of classes. Looking out over the wooded campus of Georgia Gwinnett College, which opened last Friday in Lawrenceville, Ga., the first professor hired at GGC sees an exciting future unfolding.

“We’ve had a great beginning,” he says. “The energy and momentum generated on opening day will carry us forward through the coming weeks. The students I’ve met are extremely enthusiastic. They have a positive attitude and a true desire to learn. They are proud to be a part of the inaugural class in a school I predict will play a significant role in shaping 21st century education.”

Preparing to Teach in a “Smart” Classroom

GGC is truly a 21st century college, with classrooms equipped with leading-edge instructional tools and technologies. Peppas teaches marketing and global business classes that range in size from 15 to 25 students. He is enthusiastic about working in the new classroom environment. “Tools such as WebCT, limitless whiteboards, and Smart® software provide exciting new ways to deliver lecture content and engage students in their own learning process,” he says.

“For example, with the Sympodium® interactive lectern, I can control computer applications and presentations from my desk while facing the class. I can run a PowerPoint® show and use a stylus to write comments electronically on the displayed pages. Students can view the presentation on a large screen. The presentation can be saved to a file or exported as a web page for later viewing.”

But how does an instructor prepare to teach in this new high-tech environment?

“The emphasis is still on the quality of course content and the productive interaction between instructor and students,” says Peppas. “This is what I keep in mind when preparing lesson plans and classroom presentations.”

“I strive to give students more than just factual information and theory. They should be able to take what they learn, combine it with their own experience, and use it successfully in the real world. The technology is there to support this effort.”

“Technological innovation was one of the themes of our student orientation on opening day. Students are familiar and comfortable with technology, but they must learn to understand its power – how it can work for them,” says Peppas.

Learning from Each Other

The interactive teaching style at GGC requires teamwork – an important aspect of classroom activity. Students are encouraged to participate actively in discussions, express opinions freely, and exchange ideas among themselves and with the instructor.

“Successful learning is a joint effort and student input is essential,” says Peppas. “It’s a two-way street: as teachers, we must help our students develop; as students, they must contribute to the process.” To facilitate interaction in the classroom, Peppas makes sure everyone gets to know each other on the first day of class. “That way we can work together more effectively, and learn from each other.”

“In this inaugural class the average age is 34. Many of them are already established in the business world and can share real-world experiences in the classroom. Through networking, students can even share information about job openings and other opportunities in the community.”

Another example of teamwork at GGC can be seen in the day-to-day interaction of faculty members. “Our offices are not compartmentalized but are intermingled so that we can interact and work together across departments,” says Peppas. “This is essential to setting goals, meeting challenges, and developing a strong and diverse GGC culture.”

Accommodating Diversity

Gwinnett County continues to grow multi-culturally, and enrollment increases, Peppas expects a highly diverse student body to emerge at GGC. “In our student orientation we talked about maintaining a global perspective,” he says. “We must stay aware of and be sensitive to cultural differences, and we must make sure that the degree programs we offer are relevant to today’s world. This is important for the success of our students and for that of the business community and society as a whole.”

Peppas points to a need for balance in the classroom between traditional students, who may be starting their college experience just out of high school, and nontraditional students, who may be older and returning to school after an interval of several years. “We must make the course material relevant to both,” he says.

As GGC launches its first full week of classes, there is an air of excitement and anticipation among faculty as well as students, and Peppas knows why. “We have high expectations for the success of our programs, and see them as an opportunity to contribute significantly to positive change in our nation’s educational system,” he explains.

“Georgia Gwinnett College has a very bright future ahead.”

Background on Dr. Peppas:

Dr. Spero Peppas comes to Georgia Gwinnett College from Mercer University in Atlanta, where he was the director for the Center for International Business Relations and professor of international business. He holds a Ph.D. in international business and a master of business administration in marketing from Georgia State University. He also holds a bachelor of business administration in marketing from Emory University. He lived and worked in Europe for more than a decade and has served as a marketing specialist for the United Nations and the International Labor Organization.

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