Wallace State Community College: State-of-the-Art Advanced Visualization Center
Wallace State Community College in Hanceville recently celebrated the grand opening of its Advanced Visualization Center. The Advanced Visualization Center is a comprehensive state-of-the-art learning center for developing and implementing innovative, engaging curricula for education and workforce development. The center includes virtual and simulated environments, 3-D and 4-D object development labs, 3-D immersive experiences, and telepresence conference areas. Ten labs overseen by the center have been installed in five locations across campus.
"The technologically-advanced teaching and training opportunities provided through this center are ideally suited for 21st century education, allowing industry, government, educators, and entrepreneurs to virtually transform the learning experience," said Wallace State President Vicki Hawsey.
Center staff develop and provide guidance for the creation of interactive, simulated and immersive learning programs to enhance education and training. Using simulation technologies in true-to-life settings, learners build on their current knowledge base and develop important skills before entering the real work environment. The virtual and simulated environment allows learners to make mistakes without the need for expert intervention. By viewing the outcome of their mistakes, students gain a powerful learning experience not available in the real world. The experiences this facility offers will be a critical bridge for students between theoretical knowledge and the actual practices.
The AVC's initial focus has been on developing training for health care and technical high growth-high demand occupations. "This is an exciting new facet of our college," said Hawsey. "The AVC is innovative education at its best. Our national model center provides training using virtual reality, and delivers learning in a simulation-based, just-in-time format that can be applied to any field."
Wallace State's Advanced Visualization Center is a product of and home to the college's e-Learning division, which is the recipient of a five-year $2 million Title III Strengthening Institutions grant. The Title III grant funds the expansion of the eLearning division with regard to two primary goals—to increase student access to a transformed and redesigned e-Learning curriculum that increases enrollment, retention, and graduation rates, and to improve faculty expertise in the use of instructional technology in support of e-Learning throughout the curriculum. "Students come to college today expecting to learn about technology and to learn with technology," said Bruce Tenison, director of eLearning and the AVC at Wallace State, reiterating a concept that is the underpinning of the eLearning field.
Wallace State currently offers more than 300 sections of distance education content, including video, online, and hybrid courses that are instructor created and led. The college has an installed Tegrity 2.0 video streaming technology to record classroom presentations with video and audio for later review by the students. Classrooms at Wallace State are fully equipped with SMART technology. The college uses the new Blackboard software system for online teaching and learning. Blackboard enhances students' skills in the classroom and promotes subject area mastery by incorporating lectures, syllabi, supplementary reading and research materials, tests and activities in the curriculum.