SmartClassroom :: Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Viewpoint

The Perils of 16:9 Rear Projection in the Real World

By Will Craig
Multimedia Systems Consultant
Elert & Associates

A university medical school hired an architect to design the renovation of a historic Art-Deco auditorium that has served the institution for 50 years but has fallen on hard times due to wear-and-tear and neglect. The original architectural pre-design called for the latest and greatest state-of-the-art technology, but unplanned abatement and construction cost overruns forced the university to be cost-conscious in selecting their technology. Nevertheless, everyone has to have their say. The user groups requested that the system be highest-possible resolution. The architects requested that the system have as high a brightness as possible. Everyone agreed that both the screen and the projection system needed to have a 16:9 native aspect ratio.

The consultant dreamed of specifying a Barco iCon H600 or a Sanyo PLV-HD10, each offering 1920x1080 native resolution and greater than 5500 ANSI lumens brightness. However, the high cost of these projectors (around $50K each) and the desire of the University to standardize (meaning that it would be cost-prohibitive to put these in other rooms, even if the budget supported them for this particular project) overruled the consultant’s initial ambitions...

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News & Product Updates

Testing Industry Discusses SAT Scoring

Education Secretary Margaret Spellings met with executives from testing companies and the College Board to discuss industry practices in the wake of a high-profile scoring error on the SAT college entrance exam...

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MIT Pulls Course Web Page

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) took down a history course Web page after Chinese students complained about a 19th century wood-print image from the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895, which depicted Japanese soldiers beheading Chinese prisoners....

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Social Networking Software for Cell Phones

Virtual Communication Expression & Lifestyle, a small startup firm, unveiled VcellVibes, a social networking service for cell phones...

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Case Study

Field Work: Software for Handhelds Tackles the Tough Stuff

By Linda L. Briggs

Working with farmers in the fields of Idaho is about as non-traditional as college teaching gets. It’s the kind of job that calls for non-traditional tools — ones that can work well both inside a classroom and outside in the field.

Associate Professor Jason Ellsworth teaches at the University of Idaho’s Research and Extension Center in Twin Falls, Idaho, about precision agriculture concepts developed at the university. His students are mostly farmers from the extensive farms throughout the central part of Idaho. They represent both small farms and large-scale commercial growers. For Ellsworth, handheld PDAs are an essential tool for note-taking in the field and for use later in the classroom.

Students and instructors across many disciplines find wireless handheld computers to be useful outdoor educational devices because they can be used not only for notes, but also for audio recording, sketching, and even photography. If GPS capabilities are added via hardware (or some higher-end models come with GPS built in), they can be used to determine locations for mapping as well.

But note-taking can be tough at times. Making quick notes or entering data often involves writing on a limited portion of the screen with a stylus, or tapping out letters on an on-screen display or tiny attached keyboard. For many users, basic software like Microsoft Transcriber, a handwriting recognition program that ships with Windows-based PDAs, can quickly be pushed beyond basic functionality...

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Tech Notes

Financial Aid Consultants: Working For or Against Proper Distribution of Aid?

It's certainly no secret that college costs are on the rise. An inevitable byproduct is that the financial aid budgets of most colleges, not to mention the allocation of increasingly scarce funds from taxpayer-supported aid programs, are being stretched to their limits. The assistance that students need seems to be getting harder to come by at a time when it's needed the most.

Enter the "financial aid consultant," a service provider who, for a fee, will assist families with applications, instruct them on the basics of financial aid and paying for college, offer advice on how to potentially increase aid eligibility, conduct scholarship searches, and may even intercede on the student's behalf in communications with the college's Financial Aid Office. These consultants will charge a family anywhere from a few hundred to a thousand dollars or more, depending on the level and amount of services provided.

But is this a sound investment for a family that already considers itself in need of resources to help pay for college? Are there ethical and even legal issues involved? And what impact might there be on a college if consultants are assisting many of its families?... (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' (http://ptsefton.com/blog/2004/08/06/implementingims).

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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