Technology services office looks to the future

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Virtual reality as a teaching tool is being tested this semester.

By Isacc Tavares

File Photo

The office of technology services is working on adding new technologies for the fall semester, including a 3-D printer and virtual reality.

The office also will schedule workshops on how to use specific technologies, Usha Venkat, director of information technology, said March 18 in an interview.

She said the 3-D printer will probably be situated in the student megalab on the fifth floor of Moody Learning Center.

“The student megalab is, of course, not for tutoring, but for students to use the computer should they need one,” Venkat said. “In the fall of 2019, we will be getting a 3-D printer for our architecture, biology students, or any students that need it. I know students will be very happy with that edition.”

The 3-D printer will be for students who need to build models, art projects, construction projects and biology projects that need to be printed, making it easier and less costly for students, she said.

Venkat said OTS is working to expand the workshops available at this college.

“We’re currently working with the college to bring workshops to campus, to explore virtual reality, tech-integrated classrooms and teach tech-specific classes,” Venkat said. “The goal of the workshops is to show students and faculty how to use the technology and know the basics of the tech.”  

The office is partnering with the Sinkin Eco Centro for a workshop.

The workshop will show how to leave a lighter carbon footprints by doing all classwork online, without ever touching paper.

The workshop should be available in the fall, Venkat said.

“Virtual reality is being tested for education purposes here at the college,” Venkat said. “Virtual speeches is currently being tested, for students to give speeches, give virtual college tours and use VR to look at body parts for our medical students.”

Virtual reality can be used with headsets that look like goggles. The headsets use software to create a set virtual world or recreate real world places.

“Support and training are important to us,” Venkat said. “We want people to be aware of the tech that’s out there and how to use it.”

Venkat said OTS wants to focus on campus support and instructional training and to work with the district on tech training.

Each of the Alamo Colleges has its own office of technology services.

“Were only here for the college and only here to solve any issues the college as on the technology side or software side,” Venkat said. “But we meet with the district every two weeks to see what issues we’re having districtwide.”

She said the office provides tech support and instructional training support.

Her staff also works with the district to make sure the infrastructure, ACES and Canvas are all up to date.

During spring break, ACES and Banner were updated.

The office of technology services is open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday in Room 709 of Moody Learning Center.

For questions, call 210-486-0030.


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