Longwood University, a state college in Farmville, Va., has long had a reputation for using technology in the classroom. According to Alison Kendrick, Longwood's instructional technology supervisor, "One of our missions is to ensure students will work with the software and technology they will find once they move into the marketplace."
That mission was challenged four years ago when a fire destroyed a number of buildings on campus. But the tragedy gave educators like Kendrick the opportunity to design new multimedia-laden classrooms from the ground up.
The resulting classrooms each offer a podium with connections for a laptop computer, DVD player, CD player, VCR and document camera, all wired into a control console. The console connects to a ceiling-mounted projector, allowing the presenter to show material from a number of sources.
Kendrick says it was important to create an equipment standard for the campus' 67 classrooms. "By having consistent equipment in each room, it's easy for students and professors to use the technology, no matter what classroom they are in."
Many of Longwood's professors wanted to make sure the new classrooms had document cameras. The university had been using Elmo EV-400 visual presenters for close to 10 years. "It allows the professor to get just about any item – magazine articles, 35mm slides, today's newspaper, maps – in front of the students without prior preparation," says Kendrick. With the classroom redesign, the school upgraded to Elmo HV-5000XG visual presenters, which brought better image quality.
Kendrick says faculty and students are pleased with the changes. "Students are required to have laptop computers and are expected to give presentations on a regular basis. Today's students enter college expecting technology options to be commonplace in the classroom."
The technology upgrades are continuing at Longwood with the construction of two new buildings. Kendrick says when the classrooms in these buildings open, they will come with another piece of technology – interactive whiteboard lecterns.