Local college gives online students interactive experience through new technology

BREATHITT COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) – After the spring semester abruptly switched to online due to COVID-19, the college experience changed.

“You didn’t get the classroom experience it was just a remote conference and it kinda felt that way,” said Steve Lorimer, director of business operations.

Staff at Kentucky Mountain Bible College wanted to offer an interactive virtual option for students this fall.

“As a teacher, you thrive on that feedback that you have in live to see if your students understand and so to have that I can interact with my students virtually here,” said Academic Dean Zane Darland.

They were held back by the lack of money, but then the CARES Act came into play. They applied and received about $32,000 from the money in the act set aside for colleges and universities. Then, they were able to apply for another allocation of money through the governor’s office also through the CARES Act. They received about $45,000 more.

“The combination of the two together allowed us to purchase all the screens, purchase all of the cameras 360-degree cameras are not cheap but they go a long way in creating a real-life experience,” said Lorimer.

Through Zoom, students can stream into the classroom. On their screen, they will see an HD camera giving them video of the teacher and the smartboard. They will also have a video feed from a 360-degree camera.

“They can see the entire scope of the classroom,” said Darland.

Students will be able to see the other students and interact with them. When a student in the classroom talks, the camera will pan to them.

“It picks up really well somebody sitting in the back of the classroom. Those were all issues we were wrestling with how do we get the teacher up front get good audio on them and somebody in the background,” said Lorimer.

Students can ask questions through Zoom as well, and the whole classroom can hear them and respond.

“It’s just like you’re being apart of KMBC’s campus while you’re not there so it gives you a different atmosphere,” said student Raliegh Spencer.

On Zoom, students can be given control of the smartboard by the teacher, so they can write on the board from their homes. They can also take over the board to be able to give a presentation.

“This technology is opening a lot of new doors for us in the future which we’re really excited about,” said Darland.

Classes start August 20. Students have the option to live on campus and take in-person classes or they can go fully virtual. They also have the option to start classes virtually and then move to campus later in the semester.

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