COUPEVILLE — Tim Lawrence admits to having a lot of ideas buzzing around in his head.
One of them calls for a glass beehive in the lobby of Washington State University’s Island County Extension — complete with an entry point in the wall to allow honey bees to come and go.
That idea is more long range in nature. An immediate goal of his has come to fruition.
WSU’s Island County Extension in Coupeville now is able to offer students enrolled at WSU’s Everett campus the ability to take certain classes without leaving Whidbey Island.
It is being made possible through a Polycom video-conferencing system that allows students in Coupeville to view a lecture and also interact with the instructor and classmates through a 65-inch screen.
Voice activation even allows a camera to zoom in on the student.
“It’s a pretty sophisticated system,” said Lawrence, the Island County Extension director.
“It’s a big deal in terms of the type of service we’re able to provide for residents here.”
The program is in its infancy in Coupeville, having been given the green light by WSU North Puget Sound Chancellor Paul Pitre.
It came after an islander enrolled at WSU’s campus in Everett told Lawrence she had to wake up at 3:30 a.m. to make an 8:30 a.m. class after using the bus and ferry systems.
He discussed the issue with Island County Commissioner Helen Price Johnson.
“It’s great having a WSU campus so close to Island County but it’s logistically trying to get there, especially if it’s dependent on public transportation,” he said. “It makes it much more difficult.”
Students who want to use the system in the conference room in Coupeville must be enrolled at WSU’s Everett campus in a class that also has the system.
Lawrence said he plans for the system to run much more smoothly in the fall. He also sees an opportunity for nursing students to continue their education.
He said Coupeville’s location will include summer courses.
“The Everett campus is new as well,” he said. “They’re in the process of installing Polycom units. If there’s currently a class where a Polycom unit is able to stream it out, we’re able to stream it in.”
WSU’s Island County Extension is located at 406 N. Main St. in Coupeville. For more information, call WSU’s Island County Extension at 360-240-5558.