The Amarillo College board of regents approved a contract with T-Mobile to provide 400 phones with high-speed internet access to students. Students would have access to the phones and internet plan for as long as they are a student at AC.
“The initial inventory is being used for our most in-need students in the ARC who identified that they needed internet services,” said Dr. Tamara Clunis, vice president of academic affairs. The approved contract lets the college provide phones and internet access to more students.
The program uses $160,000 provided to AC by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act or CARES act.
The regents approved the purchase of the former Albertsons building. They plan to relocate technical programs like machining technology and welding to the new building within the next three to five years.
“This is a very good deal at a very good price, that along with the opportunity it gives us to one day move some of our technical education programs to a more convenient location, one very near our largest campus on Washington street,” said Chris Sharp, vice president of business.
The board also approved virtual lab software for science classes and heard plans for a program that would deliver more classes online and have completely online programs.
The regents approved an agreement between AC and Labster Inc. for $75,000 to provide online labs to science classes. Clunis believes that the software would allow students to do more surface-level or preparatory work online and more advanced labs in person.
They also approved a $60,800 service agreement with Anatomage Inc. to purchase an anatomy visualization system that lets students examine digital cadavers. There are plans to have one system on the Washington Street campus and one on West campus.
“The overall goal is to create a whole program that’s offered online,” said Becky Burton, associate vice president of academic services. “We have a few programs that students can take 100% online but we don’t have a robust offering of those programs,” Burton said.
The task force has been looking into different ways to engage students in online classes including virtual reality and augmented reality to provide students with hands-on learning in an online environment, Burton said.
They have also been looking into delivering classes in a format known as massively open online courses or MOOCs. Which would allow students living in any part of the United States to be able to take classes online from Amarillo College. Burton believes the courses would allow “students to come in and get some really big classes out of the way.”