Eastern Michigan University: High-Tech Gear Integrates Diverse Format Presentations

By Dr. Donna K. Woodiel

The professional education programs at Eastern Michigan University are on the "cutting edge" of preparation of education (and related) professionals. In the fall of 1999, the College of Education moved into the newly renovated Porter building. We are fortunate to have access to a wide variety of technology options in the College of Education.

All of our classrooms are wired. Media carts, which provide a computer and projector, are available for checkout from the Bonisteel Computer Lab. In addition, four of our classrooms are completely equipped with all of this technology set into a single equipment rack. These have been labeled our "smart classrooms." There are also two "smart" lecture halls and a distance/compressed video "smart" classroom for a total of seven. Porter is a wireless building and a laptop cart in any classroom can connect to the Web.

Class Load
My teaching load typically includes classes such as Health Education in the Elementary Grades, Substance Use and Abuse, Psychosocial Health, and Women's Health. The lectures for these classes are formatted with PowerPoint slides, and my classes have Web pages that include an outline of each lecture in order to encourage the engagement of students in classroom discussion. Typical lectures include PowerPoint slides, VHS video segments, and music using the CD-ROM and/or ELMO high-resolution digital presenter.

Integrating Systems
One piece of technology that has proven particularly helpful in integrating the various systems engaged in our classroom presentation is the Sony SRP-X351P powered mixer. Already installed in five classrooms on the college's campus, this sophisticated mixer has increased our efficiency by saving us considerable time in the preparation and delivery of lectures.

For example, if I am using PowerPoint slides, a video segment and/or a CD in class, the Sony system allows me to easily switch teaching mediums in a matter of seconds. While this would be beneficial to any teaching field or discipline, it is particularly important for the field of health education.

Interpretations in terms of human need, human value, and human potential require that health education go beyond providing fundamental knowledge about the various health topics.

It is imperative that we assist students with increased self-awareness of their individual health status; that we help them utilize personal and community resources to create their individual health profile, and that we challenge them to think carefully before making decisions that affect their health status.

Keeping Up-to-Date
Health decisions should be based on the best available research and be consistent with who the student is, their values, and beliefs. Classroom technology is a valuable tool for assisting students in finding the best information to guide their health decisions. Technology allows students and teachers to access the most current information available in the ever-changing field of health education.

Because of health's "ever-changing" nature, it is necessary and important that we share "new" information with our students when it is available. Technology in general—and the Sony system specifically—facilitate immediate changes in lecture information when necessary.

For example, the 1990s was known as the decade of the brain, in terms of research. This research has had particular significance in terms of "new knowledge" about gender differences, as well as the entire realm of addiction.

Because of the time demands on schedules of university professors, if new information d'es not make it into the lecture prior to the beginning of the semester, the professor can be left with a verbal reference to the change at best. The Sony system allows for that change to be made to the lecture as quickly as the research is available, which enables us to better meet student needs. Additions and deletions can also immediately be adjusted to lectures as students provide input.

Smart Classrooms
Health Education in the Elementary Grades is a class required of all future elementary teachers. Our focus centers on the Coordinated School Health Program, Comprehensive School Health Education and the six risk behaviors identified by the Centers for Disease Control.

Early in the class schedule, the students are introduced to the multidimensional nature of health and charged with creating ideas for the different dimensions of wellness in their future classrooms.

As a part of this assignment, the students complete a self-assessment on their general level of wellness. The Sony system allows me to immediately leave the lecture on Wellness and take the students to each of the six Web sites that are possible for the completion of their self-assessment.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention produces a CD which has all of the statistics for the Youth Risk Behavior Survey. This survey provides the data for the identified six risk behaviors of today's youth. When covering these risk behaviors, the Sony system facilitates the easy switch from the lecture to the CD, where the class can review both the national statistics and the statistics for the state of Michigan.

One valuable teaching resource for this class is the Nickelodeon Web site for teachers. They encourage teachers to tape any of their "Cable in the Classroom" series. Additionally, they offer a link for lesson plans that parallel each of the different segments in this series.

Two of the content areas covered in this class are First Aid and Loss and Grief for children. The Sony system allows me to readily switch from the lecture on these content areas, view the Nick New video and immediately link to the lesson plans offered at the Nickelodeon Web site.

My Drug Use and Abuse class is another example of how I use the Sony mixer in my lectures. The class serves as an elective for several other fields including law enforcement, psychology, sociology, and criminal justice.

I use the Moyer video series on Addiction. This provides the students a look at real addicts with real stories about their battle with addiction. The physiology lecture is greatly enhanced by switching to the video segment, "The Hijacked Brain." The lecture on drugs as a social problem is assisted by the video segment, "The Politics of Addiction." Further, I am able to leave the lecture on theories of addiction or families in addiction and take the students to actual treatment facilities in the video segment, "Changing Lives."

One of the assignments in the class is for students to create and present their own Public Service Announcement (PSA). Many of the students create PowerPoint presentations with audio and/or video segments.

The students are initially intimidated, but easily learn and use the Sony SRP-X351P in their presentations. I believe "cool" would be the adjective most used to describe their experience presenting their project with the system.

Additionally, there are numerous Web sites, such as the Drug Enforcement Agency, that offer pictures of the various drugs in more detail than most textbooks allow. And when sites like the The Center for Substance Abuse Prevention offer Web casts, the Sony system allows for ease in integrating them into appropriate lectures.

Ease of Use
The Sony system is extremely easy to operate. A relatively short briefing more than prepares you for immediate assistance with your teaching.

Although we have technology experts available to us through our lab, they are more often sought for difficulties with Internet servers than the system itself.

For more information, contact Dr. Donna K. Woodiel, assistant professor at Eastern Michigan University, at kay.woodiel@emich.edu.

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