09:54 AM

Look for the ‘Z’

Starr County Campus to begin collaborative classrooms fall 2022


Computer Information Technologies instructor Nicholas Hinojosa (above) participates in an online class with students. South Texas College’s Starr County campus has introduced new “Z Courses” for the fall that will enable students from that region to learn remotely and without the need for travel to the STC Pecan Campus in McAllen.

South Texas College students on the Starr County campus in Rio Grande City are being encouraged to “look for the Z” when registering for courses this fall.

The “Z” is a designation that indicates a face-to-face course at Pecan Campus that can be attended remotely on another campus. These courses will start fall 2022 for Starr County with plans to expand “Z” offerings to the Mid-Valley campus in spring 2023.

“My mission here has always been to make sure students don't have to go anywhere else to receive an education (and) so we believe this system will actually save students time and money,” said Starr County Campus Administrator Arturo Montiel, Ph.D. “It’s hard to say how many times students have given up when they make the determination that they have no desire to take online courses or travel to other STC campuses. It’s my biggest nightmare.”

Montiel added, he now thinks STC has found a middle ground where students get the face-to-face environment they are looking for through an interactive classroom that enables them to meet with their professors, virtually.

Dr. Arturo Montiel, Starr County Campus Administrator

“My mission here has always been to make sure students don't have to go anywhere else to receive an education (and) so we believe this system will actually save students time and money.” 

Dr. Arturo Montiel, Starr County Campus Administrator

Montiel said students may have already noticed the special “Z” designation on specific courses when registering, which means that particular class will utilize this distance learning technology.

Taking the class can be as simple as a group of students meeting in a conference room or any designated area with access to the remote technology. So far, Montiel says there are three “smart” classrooms outfitted with the capability to use the technology and maybe three smaller locations including boardrooms with interactive potential.  

Adalberto Garza, a commuting student from Rio Grande City majoring in Music, sees the benefits available for those choosing to take a “Z” course. Planning to travel between Starr County and Pecan campuses in the coming semester, Garza said he hopes that the campus offers “Z” music courses in the future.

 “I can see how the new (Z) courses can help students avoid the cost of travelling. When it comes to gas, food and saving money for bills. That’s a big deal,” Garza said. “I’m willing to do whatever it takes. Sometimes we have to do things that are out of our comfort zone to make it work.”    

 Currently, Montiel says they have organized upper level courses to use the service.

Classes available for the “Z” service at the Starr County campus include Principles of Financial Accounting, Business Principles, Business Statistics, Children With Special Needs, Principles of Macro Economics, Intro to Special Populations, Elementary Statistical Methods, Pre-Calculus, Calculus, Spanish for Native/Heritage Speakers I and Educating Young Children.

Registration is still underway for the fall semester. Register and apply for a free class at www.southtexascollege.edu/register/.   

Classes begin Aug. 22.