Ron K. Cytron
NB: Document under construction!
With the new Lab Sciences and Whittaker buildings complete, I thought it reasonable to evaluate the state of technology with regard to classroom equipment installed for the purposes of facilitating the Educational Experience.
I teach twice a week in Lab Sciences 300, and I have guest-lectured in Whittaker 218. I have also seen many other rooms around campus that boast of "modern" facilities for teaching. What follows is my evaluation of what we have and some ideas of where we should have been by now.
The wireless support uses BlueSocket for verification--a much better idea in my opinion.
The computer's power is usually controlled by the master panel for the projector and other equipment, so telling the panel to power down usually drops power from the computer, leaving its filesystem in a bad state.
Also, the software I install on the computer for teaching in the room can be (and has been) wiped out at the whim of those who maintain the computer. I typically install the Emacs/Java environment the students use so I can demonstrate various things while teaching. I've been surprised a couple of times when I've gone in to teach and the computer's disk has been wiped clean and reinstalled.
Why is this? It's because the screen for video projection is placed in the middle of the front of the room, where it hides the chalkboards when it descends. To switch to chalk, you have to raise the screen, mute the picture, bring up the lights. It can be done, but it's loud, slow, and inconvenient.
Why, you ask?
Because the expensive new buildings and their classrooms are constructed without consulting those of us who have to teach in them. So, for the record, I'm publishing what I'd like finally to see in a classroom in the hopes that someday somebody with the will to do so will make this happen.