Auburn University’s Harrison School of Pharmacy, rated in the top 20 percent of all pharmacy schools according to the 2012 rankings of U.S News & World Report, is seeing a surge in students pursuing an advanced degree in pharmacy due to more opportunities in the industry. As a state-of-the-art educational program, teaching is conducted in a live and synchronous environment between the main campus in Auburn and the satellite campus in Mobile, Alabama. Through the use of video collaboration solutions from Polycom, Inc. (NASDAQ: PLCM), the global leader in open, standards-based unified communications and collaboration (UC&C), Auburn is able to bring professors and students together with distance learning that fosters the development of a new generation of pharmacists. Furthermore, students in their latter-year clinical rotations are able to provide point-of-care pharmacy services to patients in underserved rural and urban areas using Polycom’s video capabilities.
Polycom's RealPresence video capture series facilitates distance learning and patient care at Auburn's Harrison School of Pharmacy. (Photo: Business Wire)
“Video conferencing technology is here today, and mobile devices have caught up with the concepts. The dream of helping people who just can’t make it to the doctor is becoming a reality. That is the future of our school,” said Barry McConatha, Manager of Information and Instructional Technology at Auburn University’s Harrison School of Pharmacy. Auburn’s Harrison School of Pharmacy instructs students on campuses in Auburn and Mobile, Alabama, with clinical faculty situated in satellite locations throughout Alabama, including Birmingham, Huntsville, Montgomery, and Tuscaloosa, and in Columbus, Georgia. Historically, the challenge was Auburn professors were commuting hundreds of miles to the classroom to provide teaching, testing, and the clinical practice students needed to obtain a degree, explains instructional technology specialist Don Davino, Jr., Auburn University. The centralized infrastructure, located on the main campus, provides a solution comprised of the Polycom® RealPresence® Collaboration Server 2000, Polycom® CMA® 5000, Polycom® Video Content Management Solutions, and Polycom® RealPresence® Media Manager. This allows unified communications applications, such as desktop and mobile applications and recorded lectures, to be customized to each audience, including testing and tracking. “Polycom technology makes it possible to eliminate distance barriers and bring students, faculty and patients together,” said Davino. Video Capture for Lectures and Training Auburn has garnered numerous benefits for both faculty and the student body with the latest generation of Polycom’s video capture series. “We capture lectures and meetings and generate training videos,” said McConatha. “Anyone can make a recording from one of our 147 video-enabled locations across the main and satellite campuses, and it’s all centralized, which is a huge value-add to us.” Lecture capture allows professors to create and record lessons directly from their desktop. For students, the videos provide a contingency plan during inclement weather and student health and safety concerns, and it is a valuable learning tool to the students who attend Auburn with English as a Second Language, allowing them to study and review lectures at their own pace, explained McConatha.