“Providing our students with a good background in technology is one of the most important things we do here in regard to education,” stated Dr. David Campbell, President of Northeast Alabama Community College (NACC). “We know whatever their chosen field, our students will need these skills to be successful in this digital age.”
The college, located in a rural setting on the DeKalb and Jackson county line, is urban as far as its technology is concerned. In fact, the college is one of the few in Alabama or the South that is indeed a Gig center. “Farmers Telecommunications serves our area,” stated Campbell, “and Farmers is one of the leading companies in the South or United States for that matter to advance broadband services.” Farmers makes available to its customers one Gig of broadband, making computer services extremely fast. “Many American cities are striving to become Gig Cities – cities with this one Gig broadband capacity. We are already there with it,” Campbell stated. Campbell credits Farmers Telecommunications and its CEO/President Fred Johnson for having the vision and know how to make one of the most progressive companies in the United States.
College personnel maximize their limited funding to make certain that there is ample spending for educational technology. Indeed, there are 24 computer labs on campus with over 500 computers spread across 11 different buildings. Students are certain to find a lab that meets their academic needs. All college classrooms are equipped with state-of-the-art audiovisual technology with internet connection. The heart of the NACC classroom is the “Smart Podium”, housing a PC, document camera, and a Starboard Interactive monitor. Through the college’s cable connection, Instructors have to ability to display visuals through the classroom’s projector. In addition to the mentioned classroom technology, NACC also utilizes Apple TVs in multiple settings to enhance the learning experience for students. The campus, thanks to funds obtained from a federal grant, has had complete campus Wi-Fi access since 2009, making it one of the first colleges in Alabama and the South to be totally Wi-Fi.
The federal grant also permitted the college to establish a Technology Learning Center (TLC), in which personnel hired by the college help students, faculty, and staff with any computer software issues. Campbell explains how the grant and TLC came about: “When the recession hit, many textile plants in our area closed. As a result we had many older, nontraditional students enroll with us, particularly for training or retraining in career tech fields. Through the TLC and help from the staff nontraditional students could learn the basics of operating a computer.” The Center still maintains a vital role in helping students and staff with any software issues. “Like most grants, the funding stops after so long,” Campbell added. “But we have made it a priority to continue the services the grant provided through our own funding. It gets challenging sometimes financially, but we do it.”
Patricia Combs, Director of Educational Technology, stated, “In addition to the computer labs and classroom technology provided, Northeast also offers a variety of specialized software applications that benefit not only students but employees as well.” Microsoft Office 365 is just one of the examples of the many offerings made available at Northeast. Through the Microsoft licensing agreement students and employees have the opportunity to download Microsoft Office products on up to five (5) devices. This allows students the ability to complete assignments and coursework without the expense of purchasing an expensive software.
A Technology Park adjoins the Northeast campus. The park consists of land optioned by a private owner to local economic development agencies. Approximately 100 acres of the Park already has been officially certified as a TVA Data Center site as well as being a state-designated development ready Advantage industrial site. The Gig broadband available from Farmers Telecommunications makes the site even more attractive, Campbell says, as does Sand Mountain Electric Cooperatives (SMEC) plans to build a major power substation adjacent to the property. SMEC already has purchased land for this substation. The Substation will have multiple power feeds to give power sources to more than one industry in the Technology Park.
“Everything ties together,” Campbell stated. “It’s only a small jump in vision from the college’s emphasis on educational technology to having a technology company in a technology park adjacent to our campus, but we realize these things don’t just happen. We will need to continue to work with local economic development agencies and the state and push forward to be ready when and if there is an opportunity to take that next step in the technology that is out there.”
If you are interested in enrolling at NACC, contact the Admissions Office, at 256-228-6001 or 256-638-4418, ext. 2222. Summer semester early registration by appointment will begin Monday, April 3.
For more college information, go to www.nacc.edu or download our free App.