IREX Georgia launches the Multimedia Education Center in Tbilisi, Georgia. Funded by a grant from USAID, the world's first S.M.A.R.T. Media Lab is now open for business an training the next generation of multimedia journalists for Georgia and the south caucuses.

The Multimedia Education Center (MEC) is a state-of-the-art training and learning facility, established by the IREX-implemented and USAID-funded G-MEDIA (Georgian Media Enhance Democracy, Informed Citizenry and Accountability) program.

The MEC is designed to support improvement in Georgia’s professional journalism community by focusing on innovative uses of technology in teaching and learning about journalism.

The MEC training center and media studio are designed to meet the rapidly changing needs in journalism education and news gathering. This unique facility is equal parts laboratory, studio and forum, and offers an immersive learning environment for journalism students.

The MEC is made up of a S.M.A.R.T Media Lab, classrooms, a discussion club and a café. S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym for the values assigned to serve users who will occupy the facility: Scalable, Multi-purpose, Asymmetrical, Resourceful and Trusted. The S.M.A.R.T. Media Lab features state-of-the-art thinking about electronic classrooms, studio design, open space architecture, and mobile-oriented media labs.

The MEC’s unique structure allows educators to take students out of classrooms and into a studio environment which challenges many traditional solutions about how to organize classrooms, computer labs, studio and editing space, meeting rooms, technology, security, sound control, lighting and other aspects of a multimedia newsroom.

The entire space functions as a large multi-platform stage where every square meter provides a studio-grade environment available for interviewing, editing, producing and hosting multi-platform content. One unique feature of the MEC is that the gear, furniture and even the walls can be easily moved to change the design and layout of the space.

The classrooms at the MEC are all digital-ready: All rooms feature high-bandwidth wireless service and digital projectors. Student workstations are made up of Macbook Pros with the complete Adobe Master Collection of professional media software included. In addition, students have access to a wide range of quality cameras, microphones, audio recorders, iPads, and other mobile devices.

The S.M.A.R.T. Media Lab can also be used as a live event space for lectures, movie screenings, conferences, workshops or political debates. The lab’s design also provides broadcast-quality live streaming of video from these events.

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