SmartClassroom :: Wednesday, June 21, 2006


Height-Adjustable Podiums Offer Flexibility and Accessibility for All

By Will Craig

Several years ago at InfoComm, I went into the booth of a major podium manufacturer. Looking around, I asked the salesman where his height-adjustable lecterns were. He scratched his head and looked around. “Why do you want that?” he asked. I responded that I was looking for something wheelchair-accessible. “Oh, the ADA problem,” he thoughtfully intoned. He didn’t have anything to show me.

InfoComm 2006 demonstrated that not all manufacturers see wheelchair accessibility as the “ADA problem,” but rather as an opportunity to develop new designs and increase their market – not only for new construction, but also for replacement of existing non-accessible systems.

Height adjustability is not just an ADA issue – it’s one of comfort for all presenters. Professors are working and teaching longer – and this will mean that those who design and install podiums will need to consider needs of older professors:

  • Adjustable height for various statures and seating preferences
  • Size of control panel buttons (and of the labeling)
  • Size and positioning of confidence monitor(s)
  • Lighting of reading area

There are also advantages to height-adjustability when considering differences between standing heights. Someone who is 6’2” is going to have a different optimal placement of their notes and laptop than a professor who is 5’2”...

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News & Product Updates

Gates Shifts Focus to Education Reform

On June 15, Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates announced that he will transition from his day-to-day responsibilities at Microsoft to concentrate on the charitable work of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation...

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LSU to Beef Up Network Security

LSU's computer network administrators are increasing security in response to network breaches at colleges nationwide...

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New Mexico College to Deploy VBrick

San Juan College in Farmington, NM, has announced that it is deploying VBrick for on-demand classroom video and streaming presentations across campus...

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Case Study

Podcasting Made Even Easier

By Linda L. Briggs

The upside of all the heat and smoke around podcasting is that vendors are responding with interesting products that make it even easier to create a podcast.

Yes, podcasting is pretty simple already. That’s part of its allure. In its simplest form, you record something onto a computer (a lecture, for instance) using a microphone attached to a classroom computer, and then “publish” it to the Web. The Internet abounds with free software for making such recordings, including Apple’s popular iTunes software.

But making an “enhanced” podcast – that is, integrating elements beyond voice into the recording – can be a bit complex. That’s too bad, because that’s what many instructors want to do in order to podcast a lecture that includes intermittent slides, video, or links to a Web site.

That’s where a software product called ProfCast, from Humble Daisy, Inc. comes in. ProfCast is a low-cost solution (with the academic discount, the product is just $28; further volume discounts are available) that makes it simple to add items like Microsoft PowerPoint or Apple Keynote slides to a podcast...

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Tech Notes

The Art of the RFP

Matt Villano

By this time of year, springtime rituals are blossoming like begonias, and that’s true for higher education, too. Students move inexorably toward the end of another year; professors get ready for summer session; and in campus technology departments, CIOs and other decision-makers furiously set their plans to purchase hardware and software for the fall semester. At most schools, the annual purchasing routine revolves around official documents called RFPs.

These documents, which can be up to 200 pages long, serve as academic calls to arms; ways for colleges and universities to notify vendors that they’re looking for new technology solutions, and want solutions fast. Even for schools that have done it for years, the process of writing an RFP is a daunting one – a rigmarole that requires time and resources to complete. When handled correctly, however, the RFP process approximates an art, and can yield huge benefits for everyone involved... (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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