Four-year plan brings technology upgrades to classrooms

Juliette Crane

Students might never have to see another overhead projector again.
Outdated classroom equipment is gradually being replaced by Power Point presentations, Web pages and DVDs as part of a four-year plan to bring more up-to-date teaching tools into the classroom.
“We are making a quantum leap to go from plastic transparencies to modern technology,” said Steve Fitzgerald, director of the Office of Classroom Management.
All 300 classrooms, shared among academic departments on the Twin Cities campus, will be upgraded by 2004.
Data/video projectors and VCRs, along with laptop plug-ins and Internet connections, have already been installed into 38 general purpose classrooms.
These rooms represent the first increment of those being enhanced through the General Purpose Technology Upgrade Plan. All classrooms that serve more than a single department will be upgraded with the new equipment.
These technology upgrades are intended to make teaching more efficient for faculty members and students.
The new equipment will give instructors the option of using more up-to-date teaching tools in their classrooms.
However, for professors who still want to use overhead transparencies, the projectors will remain in the classroom.
The Office of Classroom Management receives constant requests from faculty for updated equipment.
“We have more demand than supply,” Fitzgerald said.
The technology upgrade plan was created to fulfill these needs. After extensive talks with faculty members and students, the Office of Classroom Management determined what basic classroom needs and problems still exist at the University.
“Our main objective is to ensure that the most up-to-date technology teaching tools are put into classrooms for the faculty to use,” Fitzgerald said.
The next group of classrooms is under development and awaiting funding.
A few rooms that already have some updated equipment are also scheduled for upgrades because the existing equipment is either broken or failing.
These upgrades also coincide with the addition of the new Digital Technology Center to Walter Library.
The Digital Technology Center is slated to open next fall and will feature state-of-the-art facilities for computer graphics, digital publishing, electronic commerce and other digital technologies.