Virtual and on-campus students collaborate in new IRC

Students in the Department of Teacher Education at Fort Hays State University can collaborate with virtual students in the newly renovated Instructional Resource Center.

"A huge benefit to our program is having a space that our candidates can work together and not only work with other on-campus students but also work collaboratively with the virtual students will be," said Dr. Janet Stramel, assistant professor of teacher education.

"Sometimes it seems that the virtual students are left out because they're in another country or another state and so by having this space where virtual students and on-campus students can work together is going to be amazing."

"One of our goals in doing the redesign of it is to try and do a better job of allowing our virtual candidates to come in and work with our face-to-face candidates," said Dr. Lorie Cook-Benjamin, assistant professor of teacher education.

Located on the second floor of Rarick Hall, the IRC is a work space where education majors can work collaboratively, have access to various technology equipment and access various educational resources.

"There was a group of us that thought the space wasn't being utilized effectively. For such a huge room, there was a lot of wasted space," said Stramel.

"We thought the time was right to update and get into the 21st century and modernize the IRC a little bit more especially in terms of the technology capability," said Cook-Benjamin.

"We are waiting on the installment of a Promethean Board, so that education majors can also collaborate and work in groups with the virtual students," said Stramel. "We have a SMART board in room 231 so the addition of the Promethean Board gives them knowledge of both. "

A Promethean Board is an interactive white board that is hooked up to a computer and uses a special pen to manipulate objects.

"In the new design of the IRC, there is a conference room that can be used for students and staff that we hope to feature an art gallery," said Stramel. "We hope to give scholarships to our art education majors to hang their work in there for a year."

The department will host an open house starting at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 30.

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