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College updates interactive classroom

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Higher education is going high-tech with improved technology in Northern Maine Community College’s interactive classroom. The updates were made in an effort to provide enhanced accessibility for the college’s distance education students.

“The fully integrated system includes a touch screen computer in the front of the classroom, the smartboard and document camera, which allows students at remote locations to see everything in real time,” said Barry Ingraham, dean of technology and facilities. “The technology can be reversed so that the instructors at those remote locations can also teach our students here on the Presque Isle campus.”

The classroom now houses a smartboard, new video conferencing equipment with higher quality cameras, better conferencing capabilities, high-quality audio and more sophisticated tracking of faculty members as they walk and talk throughout the room.

“It is typical for our staff to do projects like this,” Ingraham said. “We always try to do everything we can in-house. This entire project was designed and implemented in-house, and it involves all of the disciplines to get this done — information technology, electrical and maintenance.”

Currently, the room is primarily being used by the nursing department to train students at remote locations at Houlton Regional Hospital and Calais Regional Hospital.

“We are now able to be more interactive with our presentations,” said Mary Cornelio, RN, MSN, department chair of Nursing and Allied Health. “With the new technology, our students in Houlton and Calais can immediately send us something to present. They can also access the smartboard from their smartphones to access their presentations and show them on the smartboard immediately.”

NMCC’s renewed partnerships with Houlton and Calais hospitals has allowed students the ability to have reduced travel expenses and in turn, less debt stress associated with their education. The technology improvements of the interactive and remote classrooms allow this model to be a success.

Full-time faculty member Deborah Folsom, RN, is the on-site instructor in Houlton and Lindsay McIver, RN is the on-site instructor in Calais. In addition to teaching in these hi-tech classrooms, they also work with the students and collaborate with the respective hospitals to achieve the hands-on learning portions of the curriculum. Currently, there are fifteen students that are participating in these cohorts.

“Nursing is high tech,” said Cornelio. “There is technology in many aspects of modern healthcare and being able to use technology in our classroom complements our profession.”

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