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CUIT to update classroom technology

Welcome to Classroom 2.0.

Columbia University’s Information Technology plans to upgrade the technology in most of the University’s classrooms by next September—and to ensure that professors won’t have to turn to students when the projector isn’t turning on.

Although the timeline for the project is still not finalized, Jose Santiago, senior director of CUIT Client Services, said in an email that CUIT is “considering upgrading another 20 classrooms this summer” in order to “complete the upgrade of every Registrar classroom where it is practical to introduce A/V technology.”

By the end of 2013, wherever it is feasible, classrooms will be outfitted with a projector, a presentation screen, an audio system, a switchboard to control imaging sources, a computer, a DVD player, a podium, cables for connecting a laptop, and, if necessary, microphones.

In addition to the equipment upgrades, CUIT will ensure that staff members are on call to help with the new technology so that a “professor can get support on a minute’s notice,” Candace Fleming, vice president of CUIT, said. She called the process of updating the classrooms “refreshing.”

Over the last year, CUIT upgraded the media in 13 classrooms, according to Santiago, bringing the total number of media-enabled classrooms to 100.

Santiago said that CUIT has worked with the University’s different schools, Registrar Barry Kane, and faculty to satisfy “most of their stated A/V needs.” CUIT also surveys “the faculty each term for their feedback on effectiveness of the rooms and which feature enhancements they would like to see.”

Non-registrar classrooms are those reserved for use by a specific school before they are opened up for general use, like most of those in Pulitzer Hall for the Journalism School.

Fleming said that CUIT is prioritizing the classrooms “based on the classes that are scheduled in the rooms.”

Professors called the changes welcome. “It’s almost essential that a classroom is media-enabled,” said Felix Gerlsbeck, a Contemporary Civilization preceptor. “We had this CUIT-enabled room, and we’ve been using it a lot.”

Paul Levitz, who is teaching a course on the American graphic novel in the American studies department this semester, said that projectors are “a good tool to have available. It makes a difference when there’s visual material to show.” But, he said, “It is functional also of what the class is and how digitally comfortable the professor is.”

Contemporary Civilization preceptor Minou Arjomand said, “I certainly think that having the technology adds a lot to the class.” But, she added, technology can be erratic enough to make it a limiting factor. “You can make do with what you do have,” she said.

Sammy Roth contributed reporting.

varun.char@columbiaspectator.com

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