Towson University Faculty/Staff News • April 4, 2007

A smarter classroom

Photo of Rachel Walker by Kanji Takeno

Digital Media Classroom delivers TU instruction to global campus

by Stuart Zang

TU faculty members can deliver multimedia presentations to their students across the globe and at any time, thanks to OTS’s Digital Media Classroom.

Housed in Cook Library 404B, the state-of-the-art Digital Media Classroom (DMC) allows presenters to deliver instructional content in a natural, face-to-face classroom setting while simultaneously reaching students at a distance. The Office of Technology Services (OTS) developed the DMC from an existing computer lab in less than a year and began introducing the technology in November.

“We know most faculty members prefer delivering information through lectures,” explains Gloria Holland, executive director for OTS’ technology support services. “With just a little advanced preparation by the professor, the DMC can create an atmosphere similar to a traditional classroom, where the only thing the instructor needs worry about is teaching.”

A technician sitting in the back of the DMC monitors lectures, records them on video with one or more of the three video remote-controlled digital cameras, and archives and simultaneously delivers the presentation to classroom computers and onto the Web. In addition to digital video, the DMC can deliver computer applications, still images, Web-based resources, sound files and scanned materials. Students can watch DMC-based lectures in person at Cook Library, live on the Web, or review an archived version available five minutes after the class ends.

“The 'smart classroom' will allow faculty members to expand course offerings at partner schools in China, Poland, Panama and elsewhere, while greatly reducing travel time and expenses,” Holland says. She notes students in Shanghai participating in TU’s Master of Secondary Education program have praised the technology for helping them to get to know their instructors better, even from half a world away.

Along with offering faculty in-class demonstrations, OTS has a brief demonstration of the classroom’s capabilities archived on its Web site. Holland hopes faculty members will increasingly avail themselves of this innovative content delivery system. She believes the DMC will play a critical role in managing TU’s enrollment growth over the next decade.

“As the student body continues to grow we’ll become more and more challenged to find adequate classroom space,” Holland says. “The Digital Media Classroom can greatly expand our course capacity without having to bring all the students to campus.”

“Because of its versatility, the DMC is a big step up from what we’ve had in smart classrooms in the past.”

Faculty interested in learning more about the DMC may visit the DMC Web site or contact Rachel Walker (x44723) or Audrey Cutler (x45082).

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