Fordham University has upgraded 15 classrooms since the summer on the Lincoln Center and Rose Hill campuses with the latest interactive technology, pushing the total number of fully equipped facilities to 146.
Fordham’s information technology department upgraded five classrooms at the Lincoln Center campus and 10 classrooms at the Rose Hill campus with multimedia technology, and another five classrooms are scheduled for upgrading over the winter break. Plans call for 20 more classrooms to be upgraded in 2008.
Ten of the new classrooms are equipped with state-of-the-art interactive touch screens known by the trade name Smart Boards, which are 21st-century blackboards of sorts that can access the Internet and project images or text from a laptop.
Faculty response to the high-tech whiteboards has been “overwhelmingly positive,” said Jay Savage, director of the Faculty Technology Center.
“The boards can be manipulated by hand,” he said “They reintroduce into the electronic classroom some of the physical interaction you get with a chalkboard . . . except unlike traditional chalkboards and whiteboards, they can save the work the class produces. It’s a cool and useful tool that lets instructors get back out there in front of the students.”
In addition to the technological improvements, the classrooms have also been refurbished with new carpeting, lighting and desks and chairs.
The nucleus of the high-tech classrooms is a specially equipped podium that controls everything from the DVD player and ceiling-mounted projector to access to the Internet.
In some cases, the control panel has the ability to manage digital video recording and conferencing systems. Faculty members can also project images or text from their laptops via a connection on the podium.
Robert Wasserman, Ph.D., associate professor of English, said that the new technology enables a class to do research together online using the Fordham library or the Web.
“The best thing the Smart class allows for is for students to see each other’s work,” he said. “
That’s something that we couldn’t do before without cutting down a forest.”
The classroom technology is the result of a 2006 survey of Fordham faculty by the information technology department and the Faculty Senate. Fordham IT also conducted focus group sessions with faculty members.
Faculty responded by expressing interest in being able to access the podium technology via wireless devices so that they could move about the classroom while teaching. Therefore, all the classrooms upgraded since 2006 are wireless. Plans are underway to eventually equip all the high-tech classrooms with wireless keyboard and mice.