Music professor Dan Duncan remembers the days of LP record players in his classroom when he began teaching at Eastern more than 20 years ago. Long before technological advancements such as Blackboard or Banner, Duncan also remembers using mimeograph machines to copy materials and sifting through the card catalogs in the libraries to locate books.
Fortunately for Duncan and the rest of Eastern technology on campus has come a long way over the years, especially in the past three or four years, according to Information Technology and Delivery Services Director Jim Keith.
“Last year was a big push for technology in the classrooms,” Keith said. “We are proud of where we are.”
According to Keith, 29 percent of Eastern’s classrooms are now Smart Rooms, which include a SmartBoard, projector, laptop and cabinet along with voice data and video connection to the rooms. Keith said the cost of a Smart Room is around $10,000.
“The point (of added technology) is to provide the best we can for our faculty, staff and students and make sure every penny counts,” Keith said.
Funds for new technology at Eastern come from two sources: the state and student government technology fees, Keith said.
According to Keith, technology purchased for the university is by request from faculty and student government.
“I think the strength of technology in the classroom will come from faculty telling us what they need,” Keith said. “You tell us what you need and we’ll work to get it.”
A new position to aid in the technology advancement at Eastern was added this semester.
ITDS’ Jean Marlow now serves as instructional technology manager for the university and said one of the benefits of the new equipment is that it gives students the opportunity to learn and see technology.
“The bottom line for all of this is to enhance student learning,” Marlow said.
Junior nursing major Kate Watson said she’s noticed an increase in the use of technology in the classroom and hopes the university will continue to turn more classrooms into Smart Rooms across campus.
“(The technology) definitely helps with class time because you have material already presented,” Watson said. “It takes a lot less time to cover material.”
Matthew Cox, an undeclared sophomore from Stanford, agrees with Watson. He said the new technology has a lot of benefits in the classroom such as allowing professors to project Internet screens on the SmartBoards but said he wishes more professors would utilize the technology.
Student Government President Lance Melching said he supports of the technology fee and what it brings to Eastern. Melching said having the equipment in the classrooms means students’ educations have “more of an impact.”
Melching said he doesn’t think there is a major on campus that won’t use technology in the real world, and in his own major, education, it is required for students to learn and use new technology.
“(The technology) has led to a drastic improvement (in learning),” Melching said. “It’s a really neat resource to have.”
Among the benefits of the new technology, Duncan noted the decrease in the use of paper for handouts and memos as a major advantage.
He joked his faculty mailbox “starves to death” because most of the mail he receives these days is electronic.
Duncan said having the technology in the classrooms “is a real benefit because technology is becoming more and more important to our everyday lives.”
“Technology is an absolute super value, but if we buy all of the technology and nobody uses it, then we’ve wasted that value,” Duncan said.
He noted: “Technology is not an end-all … It’s a learning process for all of us.” And he encourages Eastern to continue this process.
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