SmartClassroom :: Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Frank Tansey and Steve Acker, co-editors


Innovation, Access, and the Universally Smart Classroom

L. Scott Lissner
The Ohio State University

As the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Coordinator at The Ohio State University, I’m occasionally faced with faculty members who resist taking the time or effort to make their instructional content universally available to all students. They typically say it makes more sense to adapt the material once the student enrolls. I’d like to use this Viewpoint to document the number of technology-based innovations that began as “adaptive” technologies and ultimately became useful to all learners. I’ll conclude with a brief look at captioning software and sketch scenarios of how it will make my efforts at encouraging campus ADA compliance easier, and simultaneously serve the needs of all students enrolled at Ohio State University.

Technological innovations always have been recruited into the service of teaching and learning. Students learn at different rates, and they have a variety of learning styles and backgrounds. Teachers challenged to meet the needs of all students often turn to the latest technologies for solutions. Innovative applications of technologies in the classroom energize, motivate, enrich, and facilitate the process. Ideally, those who resist the principles of universal design for learning will be encouraged to reconsider what a truly “smart” classroom would do for all their students...

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News & Product Updates

Developing the STEM Education Pipeline

The ACT National College Admission Test is administered to more than one million high school students each year and gathers a student subject interest inventory, as well as both math and science assessments. ACT recently published its STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Policy Report to share the outcomes of their survey. According to the report, “The results are clear – interest in STEM careers is declining, and most students are not adequately prepared to succeed in college-level coursework.”...

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CIRTL Releases Literature Review

Addressing the problem of recruiting and retraining more students for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) careers, the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (CIRTL), promotes the development of a national faculty in STEM, committed to implementing and advancing effective teaching practices for diverse student audiences...

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Software Teaches Troops Valuable Cultural Skills

The University of Southern California's Information Sciences Institute has developed Tactical Iraqi, a cultural awareness program for use by the United States Army and Marines. In Tactical Iraqi, players navigate a set of real-life scenarios by learning a set of Arabic phrases, culturally relevant gestures and taboos...

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Case Study

Captioning Streaming Media: Anticipating 508 Compliance Needs

By Eric C. Todd - The Ohio State University

Creating transcripts is the bottleneck in providing closed captioning for video-based content, whether it is delivered on a DVD, via a streaming server, or as downloadable files. Introducing automation into the captioning process would be valuable. At Ohio State University, as at all other institutions that accept government funding, providing captioning for our video-based resources requires campus-wide planning and resources to meet emerging 508 captioning requirements.

Some campuses distribute video-based programming via a Web server as progressive downloads rather than as streaming media. We have found this to be a less effective method of video distribution because it limits the size of our viewing audience and imposes copyright considerations on the video we can deliver. Streaming servers require more resources than maintaining a Web server, but the viewership can be broader, with fewer restrictions due to bandwidth/processor speed or copyright limitations.

Helix Server, a RealNetworks product, is the only server we have found that effectively delivers multiple streaming formats. Windows Media Player and Apple QuickTime servers are exclusive to their own formats. We have learned that it is inappropriate to standardize in only one of these three families of steaming video. Codecs change continually and so do products. Currently, RealMedia and SureStream technology have made Real-formatted media the most accommodating to bandwidth issues, allowing its encoded media to reach the largest audience at the highest quality resolution. In my experience, Windows Media Player follows as the second most capable for streaming multiple bit rates. QuickTime rates a close third in terms of playback access and quality.

In spite of these broad generalizations, certain streaming solutions work better depending on the content streamed, such as when PowerPoint, screen captures, indexes, links and captions are integrated. In these cases, the format should be determined by viewer and developer requirements and by the limitations of the chosen development software or server restrictions...

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Tech Notes

Affording the Future

Just when campus technologists think they’ve got a handle on daily campus IT needs, demands to develop smart classrooms come along and spoil everything.

Between admissions officers demanding smart classrooms in order to prove to prospective families that the institution is up to speed, and professors asking for smart classrooms so that they can teach like their colleagues at higher tech institutions, many CIOs are now under pressure to add all sorts of media equipment to classrooms and lecture halls as soon as possible. But often, these directives come without checks attached, or without any clear understanding of the best way to go about spending that money when it d'es materialize.

So how do you find those dollars? And how do you make sure they are wisely spent when you secure them? CIOs and other experts who have been through smart classroom campaigns have some suggestions…(Campus Technology)

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Reader Response

From the Reader Response Forum

Creating the Classroom of Tomorrow
Posted by: jmoney

Exchange ideas on the latest enterprise technologies and discuss the dilemmas of implementation and budget issues.

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