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Coastal Bend College (CBC), originally named Bee County Junior College in 1967, was founded with a mission to give students in rural parts of Texas access to a life-changing college education. A name change and fifty years later, Coastal Bend has now become a leading community college with four campuses across southeast Texas — Beeville, Alice, Kingsville and Pleasanton — each committed to delivering superb education and life-enriching opportunities to the students and communities it serves.
We spoke with Coastal Bend College IT Director and CIT Instructor Amador Ramirez to learn more about the institution’s vision for a video-enabled campus and why they chose Lifesize to solve their video conferencing and distance learning needs.
As an institution focused on extending learning opportunities to students in rural areas of Texas, the need for a robust solution to virtually connect students to teachers was crucial. Convincing the students was the easy part — access to video conferencing meant they could attend classes from the comfort of their own homes and also choose from a larger pool of available courses. Ramirez’s main challenges were in convincing the education board to fund the program, while also assuring his fellow faculty members that video would not only support their curricula but enhance them. For Coastal Bend College, video conferencing was the way of the future.
“We serve 13 rural counties, and by video-enabling our campuses we’re able to fulfill our class registration requirements and offer more opportunities for students to take the courses they need.”
— Amador Ramirez, IT Director at Coastal Bend College
After using an old, antiquated solution well past its capacity, Ramirez and his IT team started the search for a better, more modern video learning solution. Their new solution needed to provide immersive, high quality video, be built on a robust service with a long lifespan, be flexible enough to easily incorporate a range of teaching styles and be intuitive for both the faculty presenting and the students attending virtual classes.
Ramirez was introduced to Lifesize during a demo at a nearby college campus. He admits that he was hesitant at first because he thought Lifesize was only for conference rooms and meeting spaces since it wasn’t solely positioned as a virtual instructor-led training solution. After going through the demo, it became clear to Ramirez that Lifesize was what Coastal Bend needed — an easily deployable solution that anyone could learn and become an expert in, with superior video and audio quality for a seamless distance learning experience.
“One of our instructors learned the real value of video after being unable to physically commute to her class one day. Instead of cancelling, she connected to her classroom via Lifesize and was still able to teach her class. Now she’s one of our most advanced virtual instructors — because she got to experience firsthand how video can really change the way you conduct classes for the better.”
Coastal Bend is now equipped with a total of 19 Lifesize Icon video conferencing systems across their four campuses and 84 unique user licenses. Just within the past 30 days, they’ve used over 130,000 minutes of calling time.
With a high-quality video conferencing solution like Lifesize, scheduling, attending and teaching classes has never been easier. In fact, Ramirez and faculty (and even board members!) are such advocates of Lifesize that they’ve coined “Lifesize-ing” as a verb and buzzword across their campuses. Ramirez and his faculty now average about 270 calls a month, with their most-used feature being the recording and sharing capability that allows them to host and share recordings for on-demand viewing.
"There’s always talk every single day about how we can incorporate more video in more of our classrooms. The video usage is constantly growing and everybody wants to be a part of it."
As video becomes a critical part of Coastal Bend College’s curricula, the faculty are always trying to find new and fresh ways to incorporate the technology in the classroom, office and conference room. From cutting on travel costs to interviewing and onboarding new faculty members, and even holding staff meetings and “virtual hours” for extra tutoring opportunities, Lifesize has changed the way Coastal Bend internally communicates and supports distance learning programs for the better — to the point that teachers have become stronger advocates of video conferencing since being enabled with Lifesize. And because of this, Ramirez doesn’t see video going away any time soon.
“This is the way of the future, especially when it comes to teaching in rural locations. Video conferencing is crucial, and it’s important that the teachers that serve these areas understand and are open to changing up their curriculum to best support the needs of their students. Whether they’re in the class or on the screen, everyone deserves the best education they can get.”