October 2, 2000
Volume 53, No.6
Classrooms with a global view
Donna Price is communications coordinator for ITD.
The future for classrooms is now. At least, that's the way it looks when walking into Woodruff Library's room 875: An array of windows frame the Atlanta skyline, whiteboards rim the perimeter of the room and a matrix of technological equipment lines the front wall.
One of two new language classrooms that opened for classes this month in Woodruff Library stack towers, room 875 and its twin, room 975, are filled with state-of-the-art technology tailor made for language studies. Additionally, a new language laboratory and classroom on the fourth floor of Woodruff are scheduled for completion in March 2001.
The facilities are part of the newly established Emory College Language Center (ECLC). The Language Center, a unit of the Institute for Comparative and International Studies within the college, is the brainchild of language faculty and Dean Steven Sanderson and is part of an initiative to move the college forward in meeting the educational needs demanded by increasing economic and social globalization.
The issue of creative teaching spaces-and the opportunity to do something about it-came to the attention of Rosemary Magee, senior associate dean for the college, this summer.
"Dean Magee had been hearing from language faculty that they had distinct classroom needs and wanted to do something to improve their classroom experience, particularly for first- and second-year language classes," said Carole Meyers, technology coordinator.
That meant classrooms with movable chairs to support working groups, lots of whiteboard space and easy access to multimedia technology. At the time, there was a corresponding need to renovate the classrooms in Woodruff.
"These rooms were very boomy, with lots of echo and tremendous sound-transmission problems from one room to the next," Meyers said. "We wanted to address the aesthetic and acoustic issues, and also see what we could do to use technology creatively.
"For the past two years," she continued, "the college has been focusing on classrooms from many perspectives, technology included, and asking what really makes a classroom work."
Meyers, along with Nancy Bayly, facilities coordinator, and Barbara Brandt, classroom specialist for Information Technology Division (ITD), began showing language faculty other recently redesigned classrooms and asking how the technological pieces could be put together to best serve language teaching. By the end of spring, everyone had a coherent idea of the design to take forward to the summer's construction phase, which was spearheaded by Facilities Management.
Each classroom has a projection console and a digital projection screen with a SMART board driver. SMART board technology allows touch-screen access to programs.
"You can navigate by touching a link on the screen-just as if you're using a mouse," explained Jose Rodriguez, ECLC technology analyst."Basically anything that can be opened on a computer can be projected on the SMART board as well."
There is access to audio and video streaming, as well as international television and radio programming. Other projection sources are laptops; a multiformat VCR that receives international formats in addition to VHS; a DVD multiformat laser disc player; and a document camera that projects in two- or three-dimensional format from a platform that reads from opaque materials. In addition to Rodriguez, ITD's Teaching and Research Services, headed by Alan Cattier, will provide ongoing training and technical support for language faculty.
Early reports have been positive. "Although we just started in the
classrooms a few weeks ago, we're already doing things we've never done
before." ECLC Director Mahmoud Al-Batal said. -Donna Price is communications
coordinator for ITD.