Something exciting is happening at KMBC! We have created a new environment for our online courses. Using 360-degree cameras, we have found a way to bring the classroom to our students. Now, KMBC can give learners an immersive experience, even while they are at home.
The new hybrid classrooms offer new opportunities for students. Each of KMBC’s classrooms has a 360-degree camera to capture discussion and the room, as well as a high definition camera clearly capturing the instructor, a projector, and a SmartBoard. Another wonderful feature of this setup was noted by Emily Bennett from WYMT, our local news station; she said that “students will be able to see the other students and interact with them. When a student in the classroom talks, the camera will pan to them.” With the assistance of this technology, online students can clearly see and hear everything going on in the classroom, and multiple screens allow the instructor and residential students to comfortably interact with online students as if they were sitting across the room. Remote students can participate in class discussion, ask questions, and even make class presentations as if they were in a live, in-person environment. Students can still have the experience of learning in a classroom with their peers, whether or not they are physically there. While many students have been unable to attend courses in person due to quarantine or distance, the online classroom has offered them a similar course experience to that of campus students.
As Bennett said, “After the spring semester abruptly switched to online due to COVID-19, the college experience changed.” When this happened, KMBC wanted to do something to make the online experience better for our students. As part of the CARES Act passed earlier this year, we received special grant funding specifically designated to help colleges enhance their online education. Our IT team worked tirelessly to maximize the potential of the grant, researching, planning, and retrofitting KMBC’s classrooms for live, online student engagement. The CARES Act and the hard work of Steve Lorimer, Joe Ritter, and Kirk Bagby, made it possible for our classrooms to be enhanced so we can now give online students a high-quality, live, immersive classroom experience. WYMT featured two spots on our classroom upgrades and helped explain our improvements to the community. We are so excited to be able to reach our students better.
Interaction and community are major aspects of education and KMBC. We are excited to be able to share our environment with off-campus students via the use of our hybrid classrooms. We are thankful for the ability to welcome students into our courses while they are at home and still give them our college experience. Nearly 50% of our students studied remotely this fall, and the online classrooms were able to bring them together with the in-person students in an amazing way. KMBC’s hybrid classrooms have made our remote student’s experience with us both more educational and more meaningful. Our technological improvements and adjustments to online courses have made KMBC stand out. Terri Krause, a Ph.D. student in educational technology from Purdue University, stated, “I am more impressed with what you have done than you can probably know. I have seen and been in a lot of learning environments, and yours is better designed/implemented than any of them!” KMBC is looking forward to the spring semester and how this technology will continue to influence our outreach.