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OIT presents enhanced classroom in DeBartolo Hall

Anna Boarini | Sunday, February 6, 2011

In the basement of DeBartolo Hall, the Office of Information Technology (OIT) is testing new gadgets for an educational setting, and the office held an open house Friday to show students a new, technology-based classroom.

“This room lends itself to more collaborative, interactive type classes,” Paul Turner, manager of academic technology, said. “We wanted the room to be radically different.”

There is no designated front of the classroom, Turner said. It is also completely wireless and can be rearranged to fit any technological need.

Turner said that the classroom is not discipline-specific, but rather more based in the professor’s teaching style.

“We wanted a room that was completely flexible, and so far, so good,” Turner said, “We can test new technologies in the lab and then implement them in the classroom.”

One example of technology implementation is the use of iPads in classrooms, but Turner said this is not the only project OIT is working on bringing to campus.

The open house featured various technologies including Microsoft Surface, Xbox Kinect and some projects with Sprint.

The Microsoft Surface is a multi-touch surface that multiple users can manipulate at one time. Turner said the College of Science was one of the first to utilize the technology and the University will probably get more in the future.

The Xbox Kinect is another technology in the testing phase.

“[The Xbox] Kinect is just fun,” Turner said. “It’s like the Wii , but without the remote.”

Kinect tracks your movement instead of relying on a handheld controller of some sort. OIT wants to eventually implement this technology into a classroom setting, Turner said.

Junior Ben Keller has also worked on new technology for OIT — taking high quality panoramic photographs. He said he traveled to Rome with the School of Architecture for the project.

“We use a gigapan, [which is] a robotic base that rotates and takes pictures in sequence,” he said. “Then we can put the pictures together and create one big image.”

Sophomore Bridget Curran said she enjoyed working in OIT with the new technologies on campus.

“The people we work with here are really great,” Curran said. “It’s pretty cool to play with an iPad the day it comes out. No more waiting in line at the Apple store.”

Some new technology is being tested in cooperation with Sprint mobile. One project is with the Samsung Galaxy Tab, the Android equivalent of the iPad, Kevin Abbot, an educational technology professional in OIT, said.

“The Galaxy Tab is an open resource that can pretty much do anything,” Abbot said.

Notre Dame is also working on ND ID with Sprint, which is a service for cell phones that plugs into Notre Dame specific apps.

“If you open your Gmail on your phone, it goes to your University e-mail address,” Abbot said.

This technology is already available but not many people know about it, Abbot said.

Abbot said OIT hopes to move to a completely e-book campus. When that happens, the campus will move to a 4G wireless network to handle all the Internet traffic.

“We would have a 4G network that is super fast, so anywhere on campus, you can use your e-book or search the web,” Abbot said.