SmartClassroom :: Wednesday, April 26, 2006


The Phantom Menace: Electrical Power and Classroom Technology

By Will Craig
Multimedia Systems Consultant
Elert & Associates

Overhead transparency projectors are not picky about electrical power. The same cannot be said about current digital projection technologies, sound reinforcement equipment, integrated control systems, codecs, and streaming servers. Losses to the U.S. economy from electrical power quality issues are estimated to be in the $15-$25 billion range. Even these numbers don’t include the whole story for educational institutions: intermittent problems, projector lamps being replaced too frequently, and equipment burning out long before it should.

A recent visit to a 1-year-old smart classroom installation at a Midwestern university highlighted the importance of electrical power issues. The facility was not on the main campus, and was out on the periphery of a metropolitan area. A large dividable auditorium (with seating for several hundred) was equipped with two ceiling-mounted projectors. Conduits ran from floor boxes in the front of each half of the front room to a control room in the back, and then to the projectors. Because of the distances involved, and the desire to simplify the connectivity issues involved in mobile podiums and floor boxes in a multi-purpose space, UTP (unshielded twisted pair; CAT-5/6) connectivity for audio, video, and control was designed.

The normal problems were identified and fixed during the shake-out period shortly after completion. There were several cases of defective equipment, faulty terminations, etc. Soon a new problem emerged. One of the projectors would suddenly freeze up in a mode that could not be accessed through the normal menu commands. Worst of all: it would do this right in the middle of a presentation or a class. To unfreeze the projector, the unit had to be manually unplugged and reconnected – a difficult proposition for the instructor when the projector is 18 feet in the air! Various troubleshooting was done by the vendor, including swapping the two projectors to see whether the problem moved with the projector. It did not. Both projectors were susceptible to the problem, but one more so than the other. No matter how many trips the vendor made to assess, troubleshoot, or correct the problem, there was no apparent solution...

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News & Product Updates

Colleges and Universities are Revamping Print Materials and Web Sites

The initial impetus for a successful brand strategy is a common need or opportunity that is widely felt. If the need is clear--we need more students, we need to change our profile, we need to support the capital campaign, we need to gain traction in a changing marketplace--then there will be greater internal buy-in, and by extension, less resistance...

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Lack Funding Biggest Challenge Facing U.S. Community Colleges

Presidents and other key leaders of American community colleges are confident that their institutions provide students with a high-quality education, but a majority (58 percent) consider a lack of state and local funding their single most important challenge, according to a study administered by the independent research firm Rockbridge Associates, in cooperation with education funding leader Sallie Mae and the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), which represents close to 95 percent of all accredited U.S. community colleges...

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Omnilert LLC Announces Release of e2Campus 2.0

Omnilert LLC, the leading provider of selective mass communications, announced the release of e2Campus version 2.0, the mass notification system specifically designed for colleges and universities that offers instant communication to the entire campus community. The unprecedented value of mobile phones is that today's students carry them wherever they go...

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Case Study

The Road to 24/7: Cell Phones at Baruch College

By Linda L. Briggs

Wireless and mobile technologies are now everywhere, and 24/7 computing is as pervasive a term as the actual capability promises to be. Sometimes, in fact, the push toward mobile technologies can seem overwhelming. But every wireless project d'esn’t have to involve redesigning the network and investing in mega-dollars worth of hardware and software. Nor d'es every project need to extend across the entire campus and involve every student. Rather, small pilots can pave the way for the biggest projects and can serve as a test ground for larger rollouts.

Instead of fighting student cell phone use, some schools are embracing it. At Baruch College in New York City (one of 10 senior colleges of The City University of New York), CIO Arthur Downing is working with Rave Wireless to supply students with cell-phone-accessible applications for academic-oriented uses...

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Tech Notes

Supercomputing Is Here!

When most academic technologists tackle computing, their time is occupied by laptops and servers — relatively small-scale stuff. A couple of blades here, a couple of blades there. Generally, even for network managers, the processing power rarely stacks up to anything awe-inspiring.

Sometimes, however, computing can be bigger and broader than many of us can imagine, requiring more juice than some small nations use in a year. Then, of course, we find ourselves in the 21st-century realm of high-performance computing.

High-performance computing efforts at four schools — Indiana University, the University of Florida, the University of Utah, and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (FL) — demonstrate that the latest and greatest in supercomputing on the academic level far exceeds the computing power that most of us can conceive. As computing power continues to grow, however, these tales undoubtedly are only the beginning…(Campus Technology)

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Reader Response

From the Reader Response Forum

Are LMS Anti-Web?
Posted by: cameronloudon - Australia

Recently I have been following the blog of Dr Peter Sefton who described MIT's Anti-web Learning Management System, Caddie as anti-web. He returned to this theme in a later entry called 'Links considered too difficult for online education software' (

What interests me most is that this observation could be applied to all the major players in the LMS space. Why do we need an LMS to be a file system repository for PDF and Word documents? Is that the best that can be offered to students?

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