Emory Report
November 5, 2007
Volume 60, Number 10

Explore the new Learning Enhancement Lab at an open house on Monday, Nov. 5 from 3 to 5 p.m.
Light refreshments will be served. The lab is located on the third floor of the Student Activity and Academic Center on the Clairmont Campus.

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November 5, 2007
Learning Enhancement Lab supports study with state-of-the-art technology

Staff reports

Learning Programs in the Office for Undergraduate Education offers a network of academic support services to undergraduates. This semester, a new facility to serve the entire Emory community has opened.

The Learning Enhancement Lab is a joint venture with University Technology Services, the Provost’s office and Emory College. The LEL is equipped with state-of-the-art learning technology software and equipment to help individuals perform more effectively and efficiently. These technologies support a variety of work products for students, faculty and staff.

Located on the third floor of the Student Activity and Academic Center, the LEL features voice recognition software that enables users to input text and navigate the computer using only their voice and screen reading software. These text-to-speech programs have the ability to import scanned or electronic material from books, the Web and other documents and offer simultaneous aural and visual input. The imported text can then be organized and exported into various formats, such as a Word document, for example. The software has features that assist with reading comprehension and speed, research and writing, study skills and retention, visual organization and concept development.

Most universities reserve these specific technologies for individuals with specific needs and disabilities. “The LEL will have a broader reach,” said Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education Wendy Newby, who saw the need for this on campus and immediately received support for this vision from Alan Cattier, director of academic technologies.

Assistive technology has been in use for more than 20 years by the disabilities community, but the trend to use technology to support learning is growing to a more generalized audience based on experiences that indicate it can be useful in promoting efficiency. “The transformative effect of learning technologies can be a benefit to all students,” said Ellen Torrence, the learning technology specialist who developed and manages the lab.

“Learning technologies are becoming more user-friendly and constantly adapting. We look for uses of learning technology that are replicable across the disciplines. Now that the lab is ready, raising awareness of the technology and then customizing the technology for the best fit to the needs of the individual seem to be the biggest challenges,” said Torrence.

The new lab offers an opportunity for individuals to try out innovative software to see if it will be of benefit. Torrence encourages faculty and students to explore the lab. A seed has been planted, said Torrence. “My job is to demonstrate how it can be used and train the individuals so that they feel comfortable using it on their own.”