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OIT showcases new campus technologies

Marisa Iati | Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Office of Information Technology’s (OIT) Academic Technologies Lab (AT Lab) is helping to bring the latest technologies to both the students and classrooms of Notre Dame.

“A lot of what we do is learning about new and upcoming technologies and seeing how we can apply them toward education,” Jessica Choi, coordinator of the open house, said.

The AT Lab hosted an open house Friday to introduce some of the technologies available for use by the University. The lab displayed several of its current projects, including small motion-sensing computers, panoramic imager robotic mounts (the GigaPan) and the Amazon Kindle.

Choi said AT Lab employees follow the latest technology news and conduct research to identify potential projects.

“We do a lot of testing, and then once we think it’s appropriate, then it becomes a full-launch project toward education,” she said. “Testing can vary depending on the technology. For a lot of our eReaders, we see if we can implement that. Instead of buying textbooks, we can use a Kindle.”

One of the AT Lab’s most successful projects was researching iTunes U, an application that enables educators to distribute video, audio and books, Choi said. Several University departments utilized iTunes U to distribute course and promotional material.

Choi said if a technology is approved for campus-wide use, the lab’s employees recommend it to faculty members that might benefit from it.

“We’re working with the architecture department a lot with the GigaPan because it takes 3-D panoramic photos,” she said.

Freshman Joey Copp said the Microsoft Surface program, a computing platform that enables users to manipulate digital content by touch, would be especially helpful in a biochemistry classroom because it can project a 3-D representation of a protein structure.

“I actually think that … if you attach it to a projector … this would be really helpful in my [biochemistry] class right now,” Copp said.

Students and faculty are encouraged to visit the AT Lab, and they can borrow some of the Lab’s technology such as microphones to record class lectures.

Choi said the Lab is continuing to discover which cutting-edge technologies would be most useful to the campus.

“Our current projects that are still in their initiation phases are the Siftables, Apple TV [and] Kindle,” Choi said. “We’re still working a lot with GigaPan, and the Kinect is something that’s just been initiated.”