SmartClassroom :: Wednesday, May 10, 2006


The Line on Arrays

By Will Craig
Multimedia Systems Consultant
Elert & Associates

Ask an eager sound system designer how to solve a difficult sound reinforcement problem in a classroom, and chances are, one of the first ideas that will be proposed will be “line array”. Is line array technology a panacea for all acoustical ills? Or is it a case of everything looking like a nail to a construction worker who loves using a hammer?

Audio system design for small classrooms is a straightforward affair. Need to hear the professor? Ask her/him to speak up. Need to hear audio accompanying a visual presentation? Put one or more small loudspeakers on or near the monitor or screen.

Sound system design for larger classrooms can be more challenging. Besides having a greater number of seats, large classrooms (75-500 seats) often have additional considerations beyond those of the smaller classrooms. On the “plus” side for the audio system designer, larger classrooms often are designed with some thought to acoustics. Sound-reflective materials are used to utilize the reverberation in the front of the room to help boost the level of the spoken word of the presenter in the rest of the room, while sound-absorbent materials absorb reflections off the rear and side walls, helping to increase intelligibility. In many well-designed large classrooms, no sound reinforcement is necessary for a presenter in the front of the room...

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News & Product Updates

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Case Study

Community College to the Rescue

By Linda L. Briggs

There are over 1,200 community colleges nationwide, serving 11 million students annually. They face special challenges in meeting the needs of their diverse student populations. But successfully serving community college students can be challenging, partly because the student bodies are often far less homogeneous than those attending four-year institutions. Many community college students are part-timers who are also working, perhaps even supporting families. Some represent the first generation in their families to attend college, or are overcoming limited English skills. Others, especially in today’s job market, are older, dislocated workers returning to retool with new skills and knowledge.

Rising university tuition costs are also pushing more and more traditional four-year college students to begin their higher education at a community college. And finally, community college students often face greater financial limitations than traditional students. For example, the recent jump in gas prices affected students everywhere, but for many non-traditional students attending community colleges, it had added impact.

As fuel prices began to rise last year, administrators at York Technical College in South Carolina immediately recognized that they had to make changes to accommodate the financial blow to their students. The college opened its doors in 1964 and has since become a technology leader among the 16 associate-degree-granting colleges in South Carolina. It has contributed to a statewide technical college network that has only grown more powerful and useful with the advent of the Internet and with the introduction of technologies like streaming audio and video. In fact, York Tech’s technical prowess was publicly recognized last year when the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) ranked it the most “digitally savvy” community college in the country (sharing first place with St. Petersburg College, on Florida’s Gulf Coast).

It was not so surprising, then, that when the price of fuel headed skyward, York Tech administrators quickly assessed how they could use technology to curtail driving. “We immediately began to plan how to lessen the number of times students have to come to campus,” recalls Dennis Merrill, the college’s president. “For many of our students, [the escalating cost of gas] represents a significant hardship.” Accordingly, the school began brainstorming about using its already extensive technology infrastructure to allow students to cut back on commuting...

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Tech Notes

Next-Generation Textbooks: Book Smarts

That creaky spine. The yellowing paper. Those eternally typeset words. Why do we still love the printed page? In the age of electronic media, some say producing textbooks is a dying art. And it may be true that every day, devices with names such as iPod and eBook threaten to replace the age-old “technology” of the traditional book with a newer, faster, and equally (if not more) portable approach. In many cases, at colleges and universities across the nation, students and teachers alike are embracing these new technologies.

At the University of Virginia , for instance, technologists have created an entire library of e-texts designed to eliminate the process of taking out books. Elsewhere, at schools such as Central Florida Community College , Valencia Community College (FL), West Chester University (PA), and Indiana University , technology leaders have embraced a variety of vendor tools that combine traditional textbooks with eLearning, for an entirely new experience. These tools differ in scope and approach from more traditional learning materials, but it appears that across the board, they work... (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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