June 24, 2004
Smart Classrooms Will be Ready for Fall Semester
For Immediate Release
To: News Directors and News Editors
From: Veronika Avery, Assistant Director of Media Relations,
Twenty-two classrooms at the University of Louisiana at Monroe
have spent the summer being made over into "smart classrooms."
"Smart classrooms" are lecture rooms and lecture halls
that are equipped with computers, DVD and VCR players, a sound
system, Internet connections, and document cameras.
ULM Associate Provost Dr. Eric Pani says the ULM classrooms
will be very appealing to today's technology-savvy students and
will help the faculty reach more students because of the additional
resources available to them. Pani says, "Faculty may want
to show their students information and research from their office
computers or Internet sources. The classroom, in effect, can
be an extension of the professor's office or laboratory. Smart
classrooms allow faculty to enhance their lectures, include music,
data, and images, and provide graphic displays that help clarify
the principles being considered in the class. This will allow
students to be more engaged in the learning process."
The project is being funded from the technology fee that ULM
students pay each semester. The decision to use those funds
for this purpose was reached by the student-led Student Technology
Assessment Plan Committee.
Assistant Professor and Graduate Coordinator in the Department
of History and Government, Dr. Gordon Harvey, is already using
technology in his classroom. He says it's a big help. "We
are realizing that today's students are learning in different
ways than most of us educated in the 1980s and before did. They
are very visual in the way they process information. Much of
this can be traced to the influential role of television, which
has come to dominate American culture. Smart classrooms allow
professors to bring to the classroom charts, data, images, sounds,
music, and web sites of their own or from other sources,"
Since the mid-1990s smart classrooms have grown to be an expectation
for college campuses rather than an extra feature.
Harvey also said, "In my experience, smart classrooms have
been indispensable in the teaching of U.S. History. When I lecture
on the early twentieth century and the rise of Jazz in New Orleans,
I like to play for my students selections from some Jazz greats
of that age. How can I adequately convey to students the importance
of this music form and why it became so popular around the world
if I cannot let them hear a selection from Louis Armstrong, Fats
Waller, or King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band?"
"When I lecture on the Great Depression and Franklin D.
Roosevelt, I stress his calming influence over a desperate population.
His Fireside Chats over the radio waves were tremendously effective;
his voice a soothing balm for a nation in economic crisis. But
students really come to understand this point when I play a portion
of a Roosevelt speech and they can hear for themselves what Americans
in the 1930s heard. My lectures on American slavery become so
much more effective when I can show my students photographs of
former slaves, taken in the 1860s and 1870s, the cabins in which
they lived, and the scars they suffered after being whipped by
their owners. Every one of my U.S. and World History lectures
is in presentation format in Microsoft PowerPoint. I include
my lecture outline, images, charts, graphs, and whatever else
is necessary to aid my student in understating the content of
the course. I can prepare these lectures on my office computer,
"burn" them on to a CD and then show to any class equipped
with the technology. These CDs have all the music, video clips,
and data that I want to show the students, and it is incredibly
portable, as long as I have an equipped classroom in which to
show it. In my teaching evaluations, students have commented
on the benefit of my lecture presentations and how seeing many
of the people and events that I lecture on aided their ability
Using technology has an added long-term benefit. Harvey adds,
"We are modeling it for our students. Some of our students
hail from less-affluent school districts that haven't had the
good fortune of abundant technology in the schools. Perhaps,
they could not afford their own home computer. By showing them
how we use it in a classroom setting, modeling the technology,
we are introducing them to the technology so that perhaps in
their future work situation they will feel more comfortable in
using it. This is especially important with those students at
ULM who seek to enter the teaching profession. If we can model
the use of information technology with these pre-service teachers,
then they are more apt to adopt it in their classrooms. Or perhaps
in the case of a less-affluent school system, they might work
to secure private donations for such technology."