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College planning SMART upgrades
September 09, 2016 Jerry Purvis   

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The WNCC Works: Expanding the Possibilities fundraising campaign at Western Nebraska Community College is closer to meeting its $8.95 million goal with a $25,000 donation from Bytes Computer and Network Solutions.

The funds will be used to support upgrades and expansion of SMART classroom technology at the college’s Scottsbluff, Alliance and Sidney campuses. The word SMART is not an acronym, but the name of the company specializing in technology for the classroom.

Todd Lewis, Bytes President and CEO, said a SMART classroom uses the latest technology for faculty members to engage and interact with students.

“Students have assignments given to them and they study them outside the classroom,” Lewis said. “The faculty member then begins the discussion and adds more information in the classroom.”

Students each have a computer and the instructor will use a master computer to oversee the class. The technology brings in internet sites, PowerPoint presentations, and other tools. The entire program is customized so the student can work in class alongside the instructor.

“SMART classes are an engaging, interactive opportunity for students to learn,” Lewis said. “It simulates more of what the workplace will be like for them.”

The college currently has one SMART classroom at its Scottsbluff campus. Another is scheduled for Scottsbluff, as well as a classroom for both Alliance and Sidney within the next few years.

SMART classrooms aren’t used for just technology education. Almost every area of study is moving toward creating a more engaging environment for study. The SMART classroom allows the instructor to make the material and the syllabus come alive for students and make the process more realistic.

Science, history, journalism, business and geography are just a small portion of how the SMART classroom can be engaging for student learners.

“We need to provide students with the best in technology,” said Jennifer Rogers, Executive Director of the WNCC Foundation. “To keep pace with rapidly changing technology world, students need to learn using the same technology tools they’ll see in the workplace.”

WNCC President Dr. Todd Holcomb said the college has a long relationship with Bytes. Founder Darrell Lewis is an alumnus. Company members have served as part of an information technology advisory council to help develop curriculum that allows for students to head straight into the workforce after graduation.

“It’s very important for us to have a strong Information Technology program at the college to be able to provide a skilled and qualified work force,” Holcomb said. “This is a great partnership that I see will only continue to build in the future. This is a long-term investment for our students to receive a top notch technology education.”

The WNCC Works: Expanding the Possibilities fundraising campaign runs through the fall of 2016, which also marks the 90th anniversary of the college. So far, the campaign has raised about 90 percent of its goal that will include upgrades, improvement and expansion in all areas, including some funding for student scholarships.
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