The mission of the The Valberg Educational Resource Centre (VERC) is to provide the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry with a multimedia teaching facility and a place for self-directed learning, for eligible users.
In 1985, an Advisory Committee, spearheaded by the former Dean of Medicine, Dr. Leslie Valberg, endorsed the recommendations of the Project Panel on the General Professional Education of the Physician (G.P.E.P.) Report, to introduce the use of computer based learning and medical informatics into the curriculum.
At the same time, the Presidents Advisory Committee on Information Technology and Services made the application of information technology and instruction a high priority as an institutional commitment at Western.
As a result of these recommendations, the Computer Based Learning Centre (CBLC) was created in the Faculty of Medicine.
The mandate for the CBLC was to provide a student-centred resource for the undergraduate medical curriculum to promote independent learning and problem solving. To meet this requirement, an organizational structure was created and Dr. David Lloyd was appointed as Director of the Computer Based Learning Centre.
Funding for the development of the original Computer Based Learning Centre was initially provided by the University Excellence Fund and the Garfield Weston Foundation. Additional funding for further equipment purchases was later given by the J.P. Bickell Foundation. Renovations began, to what is now room M143 of the Medical Sciences Building, in 1986 and the Centre officially opened in the spring of 1987 wLith a network of 16 IBM compatible XT microcomputers and 50 programs.
Over the next few years, the CBLC grew in usage. Remote services were established to allow students access to programs 24 hours a day from hospital or home. Funding from the J.P. Bickell Foundation provided interactive videodisc systems to add sound, motion, and high quality visual images to programs. In 1989, the CBLC was chosen by the National Board of Medical Examiners as one of 24 pilot sites across North America for the Board"s interactive videodisc "CBX" test project.
In June of 1992, the Faculty of Medicine was chosen to receive "JobsOntario" funding to create an area with improved student facilities for medical students. The creation of the Learning Resource Centre (LRC) would provide a necessary hub to support the new problem based learning curriculum introduced in 1990; establishing the physical space to encourage student interaction, and a variety of instructional materials needed for self-directed learning.
By providing a physical focal point in the medical school for students, the aim was to encourage cooperation and sharing of information between students of all years. This philosophy supports the idea that medicine is a cooperative effort involving many people with diverse talents.
The project involved extensive renovations to the old Medical Sciences Library space, and included a new building addition for the Computer Based Learning Centre. The renovation created: three new classrooms and eight small group teaching rooms with connections into the CBLC network, offices for the Hippocratic Council and the Meds Journal, a medical student study room and lounge, the Learning Resource Centre (LRC) and the re-location of the Computer Based Learning Centre into the Learning Resource Centre.
Accessible by Chubb security 24 hours a day, the LRC included: a main area with group discussion tables, an Information Desk, facilities for various educational resources, one preview room for group viewing of videos, two individual video viewing carols, access into the Computer Based learning Centre, and office space for LRC and ERRU staff. The Centre was designed to be as flexible as possible in order to accommodate future needs of students and the undergraduate programs.
A design team was formed in August of 1992 that consisted of representatives from: Architects Tillman Ruth Moccellin, UWO Physical Plant, Janice Barkey (Meds "95) and faculty and administrators from the Faculty of Medicine. The pre-existing features of the building caused certain design constraints; the support pillars in the old library stack area had to be built into the new facilities, and there was a difference in the floor levels between the main floor of Medical Sciences and the old library floor.
The construction began in February of 1993, and the new area opened in September of 1993.
In June 1998, the LRC was renamed in honour of Dr. Leslie S. Valberg, who served as Dean of the Faculty of Medicine from 1985 to 1992, and was instrumental in the inception and creation of the original Computer Based Learning Centre.
In June 2005, the Centre renamed again to reflect its ability to be a resource to both faculty and students. The Centre is now called the Valberg Educational Resource Centre (VERC). At time of opening in 1987, the CBLC provided students with access to sixteen computer work stations and one printer. When the LRC was renamed to the VERC in 1998, the centre hosted eighty work stations, four printers, one scanner, Western wireless and a computer teaching and exam facility.
At time of opening in 1987, the Centre provided students with access to 16 computer work stations and one printer. It now offers 80 work stations, four printers, one scanner, Western wireless,a computer teaching and exam facility.
In the summer of 2009 the VERC had a major overhaul; these renovations were driven in part by the need to meet the requirements of the undergraduate medical accreditation standards but were also implemented to deal with the increased class sizes.
The library resources were removed from the VERC and relocated to the Western Taylor, making the primary focus of the VERC to provide a teaching facility. In addition all offices in the VERC were removed to make room for additional workstations to address the increased class sizes and give additional teaching options.
The computer hardware/software, furniture and audio/video system was completely upgraded to allow all resources in the VERC to be available twenty four hours a day for self-directed learning.
The new VERC supports over one hundred and forty workstations and can support teaching a hands on course for over one hundred students.