Enhancing Learning with the Latest Technology
Robinson Room Enhances Learning with the Latest Technology
Fans of technology will want to check out The Robinson Room, located in the GCC Center for Teaching, Learning and Engagement (CTLE). The classroom, first dedicated in 1989 as a state-of-the-art classroom, was originally outfitted with computer stations and other technology that was high-tech for the times. But, like other things over the past 25 years, it was showing its age.
Now, it has a brand-new life, thanks to a three-year renovation project. The goal was two-fold: 1) install new technology to meet today’s teaching requirements; and 2) build in the infrastructure for the room to keep pace with technology as it evolves in the future.
“It was important to us that it be a versatile, dynamic, living classroom,” said Scott Kozakiewicz, who helped manage the renovation project, along with others on the faculty and instructional staff in the CTLE.
The group met and discussed the range of learning styles and how to accommodate them. As presented in “Multiple Intelligences,” a book by Howard Gardener, learning styles include “visual,” “hands-on” and other styles. When students are able to take in information the way it works best for them, retention is higher.
- "Wall Talker” writable surfaces on the walls, which can accommodate dry-erase markers as well as serve a dual purpose as a projection screen.
- Hitachi Short Throw interactive projectors with “Starboard” software and technology that allow instructors to annotate their presentations with a stylus which captures their annotations on their computers.
- Cameras that can capture up to four sources, including:
o the instructor, anywhere in the room; no matter where the instructor moves, the microphone captures the sound and the camera will pan and tilt to capture his or her presentation
o students’ and/or audience reactions (the instructor can adjust the camera to pan, tilt and zoom on the audience)
o PowerPoint screens from the main projector
o websites used for reference points during the presentation
- A moveable Ergatron cart; developed for the medical profession, it allows instructors to present from anywhere in the room; its built-in battery runs instructors’ laptops and also contains a document camera; both devices can send images wirelessly to projectors from anywhere in the room.
- Six flat-screen television monitors with displays that can be activated from any source in the room; outlets under the monitors allow groups to hook up directly to the monitor to display their work; they can “report out” from small groups, or take over air media in the room to display their work on all six monitors.
- Lecture-capture software that allows the instructor to give a presentation, and later watch and evaluate it; they can record the presentation on an SD card or FTP it to video-on-demand servers.
- Creston’s Air Media allows users to easily transfer their data from a cell phone or a laptop, and wirelessly connect to the control system, sending the signal to any of the displays; the product also allows up to six students to log in and control their small-group presentations.
- A fold-back screen that can divide the space into two smaller spaces.
- A powerful Crestron switcher that incorporates its own MP3 player and will allow future upgrades without replacing the entire system.
- A panel of jacks in the walls that can bring in new technology, such as video conferencing, as it evolves.
Yet, with all of these features, the idea is simplicity, says Kozakiewicz. “The instructors have to touch the control panel no more than three times to get what they want.”
In addition to aiming for versatility, Kozakiewicz says the development team was focused on the idea of Flexible Instructional Terrain, or “FIT.” This requires technology to provide high capability, as well as extensive flexibility, to enhance flow and delivery to students, rather than becoming a distraction.
According to Dr. Susan Campbell, who directs the CTLE, the larger purpose of the classroom is to enhance learning through student engagement. Instead of spending 45 minutes delivering a lecture, faculty will be able to record their lectures for students to watch on their own time. This will free up time in the classroom, which instructors can use more effectively for one-on-one student engagement.
While some of the individual tech tools have been used elsewhere on the GCC campus, equipment vendors who have been involved in the room’s configuration say no other institution has assembled all of these tools in a single location.
The grand opening, held in late February, showed off the room and its updated functionality. The occasion was also an opportunity to honor the family of Jeffrey Robinson, for whom the room originally was named. His father, mother and brother were present for the dedication, as well as Mark Montanus, a retired faculty member who was at GCC when the Robinson Room had its first debut.
As a “living” classroom, the room is designed to grow, mature and embrace the future. Which is exactly what the Robinson family wanted when they first committed to sponsor the project in the 1980s. With its extensive makeover, the classroom can embrace not only the technology of today, but also technology of the coming decades.
Current faculty members are already brainstorming opportunities to put the room and its high-tech tools to use. From the English department, to Psychology, to Business, and beyond, there is sure to be something for every type of presenter and presentation.
For more information contact Scott Kozakiewicz, 623-845-3115.