Students at West Virginia University will soon notice additional high-tech improvements to classrooms in seven buildings on the Downtown Campus.
The renovations are part of asmartclassroom program initiated last year which will outfit 28 classrooms with new furnishings, cosmetic upgrades and instructional technology for multimedia presentations and interactive information sharing.
The University has committed $1 million each year of the next few years to upgrade classrooms with the new technology as part of a 10-year, $188.1 million Facilities Master Plan for WVU s main campus that aligns with the Universitys 2010 plan for building academic excellence.
In addition to improvements in seating, lighting and sound systems, each classroom will be equipped with a personal computer with DVD , videocassette recorder and touch screen panel that serves as the heart of the system and allows the instructor to control multimedia presentations and room features.
Each classroom will also be equipped with an interactive pen display that will allow an instructor to write on the display at a podium and have it appear in front of the entire classroom on a projection screen. Document cameras will allow instructors to project traditional written materials on screen for the class.
Larger classrooms will receive microphone systems, multiple projection screens and personal response systems (PRS) that allow instructors to use remote clickers to poll or quiz students and receive immediate feedback on their presentations.
The updates, expected to start in mid-May, will occur in nine classrooms in Clark, Chitwood, Eiesland and Armstrong halls and the Business and Economics Building. An additional 19 high-tech classrooms in Brooks and Oglebay halls will be available when renovations of those two buildings are complete.
Melanie Butler, an assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics and co-coordinator of the Institute for Math 126 and Math 129 within the Institute for Mathematics Learning at WVU , has often taught in the large lecture hall classrooms with the standard technology package where she has used the interactive pen display and PRS .
Butler said the pen display makes it easier to switch sources, which allows her to use many different forms of technology in one class. For example, she uses PRS , PowerPoint, a Web browser and the document camera all during one class.
The PRS helps encourage student participation,she said.These types of technologies make it more reasonable to teach classes of 240 students. The technologies help encourage students to interact with the instructor, the material and other students.
In my experience, the students enjoy the PRS ,she added.The students are used to seeing all different types of technology, so nothing seems to faze them.
Ralph Hanson, an associate professor and assistant dean for curriculum and extended learning in the Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism, has been teaching in
Room G24 of Eiesland Hall for more than 10 years.
He uses the classrooms computer projection system with his laptop to show videos and DVDs. He plays C-SPAN as his students come in for class and uses the PRS clicker for attendance quizzes.
Hanson says the new technology allows him to use video illustrations and slides to support large lectures, while giving him an easy way of taking attendance.
Mostly I think the technology makes large lecture classes more effective and appealing,he said.Students like it a lot better than the old overhead projector systems.
Jane Caldwell, a lecturer and program coordinator in the non majors biology lab program, will teach in Room G21 of Oglebay Hall following its renovation.
Since arriving at WVU four years ago, shes done most of her teaching in Room G15 of the Life Sciences Building.
When finished, her new room in Oglebay will have the same technology shes been using in the Life Sciences Building, including a computer, projection screen, wireless microphone, VCR and PRS . Caldwell utilizes the technologies to teach her classes, which range from 200-250 students.
The projector and microphone are essential so all students in these large groups can see and hear whats going on,she said.I rely on the PRS clickers to get students involved in class. The clickers make it a lot easier to make students active participants in class rather than passive observers.
The PRS has made the largest difference among the new classroom technologies in how Caldwell teaches. She started using the PRS three years ago, and the technology has significantly changed the style and pace of her lectures.
My focus now is less on what new or entertaining way I can say the material and
more on what I can ask my students to get them to think about the concepts we’ve covered and apply them to a new situation,she said.I ask clicker questions to see if they really �€~getthe ideas.
The University renovated 11 classrooms with the technology packages in 2006, adding severalsmartclassrooms. Nine of those were located on the Evansdale Campus and two on the Downtown Campus.
This summers renovations will bring the total number ofsmartclassrooms to 50 and the seating capacity to well over 3,000.
The completion of the Brooks and Oglebay classrooms will increase the number of classrooms on campus by 7 percent,said Rob Moyer, director of facilities planning at WVU .However, since we have utilized a right-sizing approach in our planning, well actually increase the number of seats by 24 percent.
For more information on the technology available in thesmartclassrooms, visithttp://ctec.wvu.edu.