New system streamlines high-tech classrooms


    By Scott Smith

    The next generation of technology enhanced classrooms has arrived at BYU.

    Jim Sands, IT customer representative for the Office of Information Technology said the new system was designed to bring uniformity and convenience to professors who want to include technology in their lessons.

    According to the Office of Information Technology Web site the system involves Technology Enhanced Classrooms which are designed around a podium that holds the basic equipment needed to run the technology in the classroom.

    “It is not as intrusive,” Sands said, “the old (technology) rooms had a lot of equipment that you had to stand behind, the TEC Room is all self contained in a standard sized podium, usually off in the corner of the classroom.”

    He said many professors found it difficult to figure out the old technology rooms because they were complex, and there was no standard system throughout BYU.

    Inside TEC podiums throughout campus, teachers will find the same hardware and control system, Sands said.

    The Office of Information Technology Web site said inside each TEC podium teachers will find a PC, equipped with a uniform user interface, a DVD/CD drive capable of accepting Audio CD’s, CD-ROM, and DVD movies, a floppy disk drive, a ZIP drive, a VCR and external input plugs.

    While Laser Disc, Minidisc, and other less common media players are not included in the TEC Room podium, Sands said professors can request and have them plugged into the podium through those external ports.

    John Livingstone, associate professor of church history and doctrine, said the TEC Room has allowed him to use anything that is on his computer in class.

    “It literally throws your computer screen up on the wall, and it is wonderful,” Livingstone said.

    As teachers become more familiar with the TEC Room capabilities and see how easy it is, they will be more willing to use them, he said.

    Sands said the Office of Information Technology designed the TEC system to last for many years.

    He said the components are interchangeable and can easily be switched out and upgraded without causing a lot of downtime.

    “The goal was to help the professors feel as though they are not slaves to the technology,” Sands said.

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