School of Business and Computer Technologies Opens New Labs
Located on the second-floor east wing of the Breuder Advanced Technology and Health Sciences Center and showcased at a Nov. 30 open house, the classroom/laboratory space includes a mock courtroom for paralegal studies/legal assistant students (Room E201), a Financial Markets Investment Lab (E258), a Web and Interactive Media Lab (E264) and a fully functional corporate boardroom (E200).
"Our American Bar Association-approved legal assistant/paralegal curriculum prepares students to assist attorneys in the performance of their professional duties. They operate under the supervision of a licensed attorney and are prohibited from practicing law. Consequently, they rarely get a glimpse of the actual courtroom proceedings they work so hard to support," said Edward A. Henninger, dean of business and computer technologies. "This educational setting will give our students a unique look into that side of the profession."
The mock courtroom was designed by Arnold Reception Desks Inc., in Irvington, N.J., which has installed such facilities for municipal, military and educational use and with help from the college's School of Construction and Design Technologies customized the furniture to fit the smaller space.
"We will make use of the mock courtroom in various classes to demonstrate legal proceedings," said Kevin R. Derr, professor of legal assistant. "We are also hoping to make the room available for local high school mock-trial practices and, possibly, even competitions."
Equally exciting is the finance laboratory, which uses a blend of media to put live market data at students' fingertips.
"The new Financial Markets Investment Lab opens doors to a host of real-time, real-world learning opportunities," Henninger said. "Gaining access to the very data, news and information databases used by financial professionals will significantly enrich the skills and marketability of our accounting, banking and finance, and financial planning graduates."
"Interactive Brokers LLC has provided our students access to their Financial Information System," said Roy A. Fletcher, assistant professor of business administration/banking and finance. "Our students have the opportunity to be informed about global market events in real time."
Students get hands-on experience with a variety of comfort levels and controls, he said.
"They also have the opportunity to not only trade across a variety of markets, but also under current regulatory constraints in a simulated environment," he added, "which has enhanced real investment decision-making in the Student Managed Investment Fund." Fletcher is the faculty adviser for the fund, a stock portfolio established in 2007 with a portion of donations earmarked for educational purposes within the School of Business and Computer Technologies.
Fletcher noted that a recent guest speaker a chief financial officer from a local bank was so impressed by the depth of information streaming into the lab that he commented, "This is better than my office!"
Next-door, 20 Apple Macintosh computers and dual projection screens engage students in the web and interactive media major, initiated with the Fall 2011 semester.
"The emerging field of interactive media exposes the blurring distinctions between web design/development, interactive marketing, social networking, digital communications, audio and video production, digital publishing, and production," Henninger said. "The new Web and Interactive Media Lab provides dynamic opportunities for our students to learn how to create cutting-edge, customized websites and mobile experiences using advanced digital strategies and techniques."
"The new lab is great," said John J. Messer, assistant professor of computer science and computer information course coordinator. "The dual monitors and screens allow us to make changes to HTML and CSS code on one screen and see the effect of the change on the other. This aids greatly in the learning process."
Classes also can compare websites, images and programming code side-by-side, he said, allowing faculty to critique student work and the methods they used to achieve certain effects.
"I also use the dual monitors and screens to search for additional resources while teaching, without having to close or hide the files that we are working on at the time," Messer explained. "The lighting and comfort of the room is superior to any lab I have ever taught in."
His sentiments were shared by colleague Denise S. Leete, associate professor of computer science, who helped develop the curriculum for the new major: "This room makes working in a web-development environment so much easier. Faculty are able to display/project more than one application at a time, which greatly helps in development."
The lab includes a "smart podium," which gives faculty the option to write comments on a tablet that students can see projected over the screen image.
The second-floor changes also include a corporate boardroom for use in simulated business meetings, small seminar classes and seniors' capstone presentations required in Penn College's bachelor-degree majors. The space, with a whiteboard and room for 18 people, already has seen use by the school's corporate advisory committees, Henninger said.
While the open house allowed a peek inside some of the school's "degrees that work," windows along the hallways also have heightened the accessibility of facilities that formally hid their instructional benefits behind somewhat unfriendly interior walls.
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