Jacksonville College will have two new upper-level courses available to students this semester because of the addition of a video conference system, Tandberg, and a partnership with Criswell College in Dallas.

“It’s not just recorded video; the class is going on live at Criswell,” said Jared Wellman, distance education coordinator at Criswell College. “It’s neat because it’s taking education to a whole new level.”

The classes, Conflict Management and Introduction to Ethics, will begin Jan.17 with registration on Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Jacksonville College’s Norman Library.

“We hope to do more and more of this because it’s really getting popular,” said Jacksonville President Edwin Crank. “All the schools are getting in on it.”

The technology allows for a realistic classroom experience, Wellman said.

“They can go right next door and get the same education from live feed,” he said. “The instructor can respond and they can see the professor and the professor can see them. The instructor can zoom in on one person or pan out to the whole classroom. It shows you how technology has advanced — you can learn from someone and be hours away from them.”

Jacksonville College is Criswell College’s second distance learning site, Wellman said, and hopefully it will save students a lot of time and heartache.

“It seems like a lot of schools are doing this — branching out so they can meet students where they’re at so they don’t have to change their entire lives,” he said. “I’m 27 and during my first year of college I didn’t have online classes or distance learning. It took me six years to get my bachelor’s and two and a half to get my master’s. (Colleges) are realizing that it’s hard for people to move their lives and their families.”    

Jacksonville College had classes from UT Tyler streamed to campus three years ago, Crank said.

“(UT Tyler) taught a nursing class,” he said. “It was wonderful because students could stay in Jacksonville and work in a hospital as an aide and they don’t have to drive to Tyler.”

As a junior college, Jacksonville College can’t offer the classes students need to earn a bachelor’s degree, but by bringing the classes to them, it can get them a few steps closer, Crank said.

“This helps them get ready to transfer,” he said, “so they can start off here and then they can go to UT or A&M.”

The Tandberg system at Jacksonville College is more than six years old now, but it’s still very advanced, said Jacksonville College Computer Science Instructor Michael Creech.

“The camera will follow the instructor as he moves around so he doesn’t have to stay in one place,” Creech said. “And if he has handouts he wants to give to the students, the fax machine will print them.”

Jacksonville College is slated to add new flat panel LCD screens, Creech said.  

For more information about distance learning at Jacksonville College visit jacksonville-college.edu or call 903-586-2518.

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