The Invermere campus of the College of the Rockies (COTR) has received some cutting edge technology, and campus manager Doug Clovechok is eager to show it off to the community once it’s fully operational.
“We service a community that has growing needs,” Clovechok said. “We live in rural B.C., but there’s no reason why rural B.C. shouldn’t have exactly what the University of British Columbia has… it’s critically important that we’re able to provide our community the same opportunities that any other community has.”
The Invermere campus is the first regional COTR campus to receive what’s called SMART Board technology, integrated with advanced video conferencing techniques. The SMART Board itself is a large touch screen educational device, but when coupled with new video conferencing equipment, the possibilities are vast.
“What we’re trying to do is build a system that is essentially automated,” said Jonathan Butt, manager of IT services for the COTR. “Most organizations have some video conferencing capabilities, but most don’t have integrated rooms that we have, so we’re actually leading the province in our builds of an integrated room.”
In layman’s terms, what Butt refers to is the potential for students from across the province, and even from across the world, to take part in classes offered by the COTR. In creating an automated video conferencing system with the SMART Board, classes can be scheduled that would otherwise be unable to run due to low enrolment and Invermere COTR teachers can hold classes that students world-wide can register for. Linked SMART Boards can show students and teachers alike exactly what someone hundreds or thousands of kilometres away is doing in real time, and allows teachers to correct mistakes instantly.
“It’s all really exciting for us to have these opportunities,” said Colleen Weatherhead, administrative co-ordinator for the Invermere campus. “We’re very optimistic about what we can do with it in the future.”
While the technology has been installed in Invermere, Butt cautions they are still in the development stages of actually utilizing the technology to its full potential. The Invermere campus has begun using the board for some classes, but until all the other regional campuses also have the technology installed, the uses are limited. However, this doesn’t stop Clovechok from seeing a big future for the COTR, and he is genuinely excited for the opportunities it presents, not only to the campus but to the business community as well.
“This demonstrates how the COTR is trying to keep current with the technologies that are educationally sound,” Clovechok said. “For a little campus like ours to have that technology is a great opportunity, not only with an educational perspective, but my intent is to show the community what the capabilities are.”