The ‘Duh’ List
- By Katherine Grayson
Presenting 13 great ideas I heard at the Campus Technology
Winter conference: Wish I had thought of them!
Ever find yourself faced with great
ideas that seem like no-brainers-
and yet you never thought of
them? That's just what happened to
me when I soaked up Jim Frazee's
information-packed talk during the Dec.
11th workshop "High-Tech Learning
Spaces That Succeed and Engage," at
CT's Technology Leadership in Practice
conference Dec. 10-12, 2007, in San
Francisco. Frazee, San Diego State's
(CA) director of instructional technology
services, was presenting along with colleagues
from Emory (GA) and Stanford (CA) universities, and track leaders Mary
Jo Gorney-Moreno and Menko Johnson
(San Jose State U [CA]).
Without further ado, here are the 13
nifty "intelligent classroom" tips I jotted
down as our presenter zipped along.
Have you tried any of these?
- Before you invest in a made-to-order
'smart' podium, let your faculty
try out a foam core mock-up of it, so that
they can get the feel of where buttons,
controls, and devices will land, and you
can get feedback about what works and
- Obtain 'loaner' smart classroom
equipment from local vendors so your
faculty can try out everything possible
before you buy. Brilliant!
- Make your podia modular; that
way you can test each part in the shop
before you roll out the works.
- Check your architect constantly.
Architects often think "big picture"
while functionality loses out. Because
Frazee's team oversaw the architectural
planning on a daily basis, they caught
such errors as misplaced lighting.
- Don't forget electrical outlets for
wheelchair locations. Physically challenged
individuals often bring transcriber
friends who need outlets.
- Bring in a 'smart classroom' pro
from another university, to conduct a
workshop for your faculty and tech folks
so that you all can decide what gizmos
you'll go for.
- First weeks after rollout, place
general assistants in classrooms to
note all problems, usage patterns, positive
feedback from instructors, etc.
- Don't forget the tables! Faculty
need lots of flat table space to prepare.
Make sure it's available so prep time is
- Consider reducing hallway noise
with a vestibule right outside the room
doors. What a difference a buffer zone
- Don't tether audience response
clickers to seats-tethers make it
impossible to service the devices, and
they get vandalized anyway. Better solution:
Institute student fees for the clickers
and students will be more likely to
hang onto them and protect them.
- Or, instead of clicker fees...
Get your campus bookstore to sell the
devices and then buy them back at end
of use for a nominal fee ($10 or so). At
San Diego State, the bookstore even
sponsors faculty training lunches to
encourage faculty to use the clickers in
classrooms. (Students engage, and
bookstore revenue gets a boost.)
- Keep devices in place with
Velcro, but take heed: Velcro strip
adhesive actually comes in different
strengths-and it's got to be sticky
enough or the strip won't stay put.
- Not happy with your intelligent
classroom consultant? Fire him and
hire another, says Frazee. If he's not
delivering, on to the next!
-Katherine Grayson, Editor-In-Chief
What have you seen and heard? Send to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Katherine Grayson is is a Los Angeles based freelance writer covering technology,
education, and business issues.