Community Colleges Bursting at the Seams
Exploding enrollment causes colleges to search for ways to better utilize limited classroom space.
Victor Valley College and Houston Community College District tell their stories…
Due to current economic conditions, many people are going back to school. In addition, many who originally planned to attend a four year university are now choosing to take their first two years in a community college system. At first glance you would think these schools have hit the jackpot. Although this may be true in the long run, this exploding enrollment is causing a great deal of strain on today’s resources. Facilities need to be expanded, but the money is not flowing in fast enough. Limited classroom space has created scheduling challenges.
Houston Community College District was faced with this same dilemma in 2005. As many colleges have discovered, creating multi-purpose classroom space is one way to relieve some of this pressure. Larry Mers, Director of Instructional Computing Support for Southwest College, part of HCC, said, “As a pilot project, the college called Computer Comforts for help creating this multi-function space." Computer Comforts designs and manufactures furniture for the electronic classroom. "We purchased the HideAway LCD tables for use in the instructional computer labs, which also had to be versatile enough to function as general purpose classrooms," explained Mers. "As an added benefit, this concept also made it very easy for scheduling. The pilot was so successful that we continue to purchase tables for building renovations and new construction. We no longer have to put lecture and lab classes in separate rooms as we had done in the past. If a professor needs a computer, the monitor is there; if not, the LCD folds neatly into the table for a clean work space and unobstructed view. We feel these tables are another way to keep HCC on the cutting edge of new technologies and classroom development. The craftsmanship, durability and service we continue to receive from Computer Comforts is outstanding.”
In the fall of 2007, Victor Valley College was also looking for a solution to manage their expanding enrollment. With new construction in the works, Steve Garcia, facilities director for Victor Valley College, called Computer Comforts. Steve said, “We were looking for a way to add more flexibility to the classroom. My staff discovered the HideAway LCD table at a local Technology Expo. The local rep brought us a sample table for evaluation. Both faculty and IT staff were impressed. We have installed more than 300 tables at various locations. Instead of offering dedicated computer labs and general purpose classrooms, all rooms offer both. Faculty have the flexibility to have the computers out for a particular class or hidden away for a lecture. Students have also commented positively on their new high-tech classrooms."
To learn more about Computer Comforts, watch their company intro-movie at www.computercomforts.com/movie.
By Frank Kolavo, President, Computer Comforts, Inc.