In The Classroom

Teachers using tech

Building the Classroom of the Future

gustavus_beck_hallIt was a golden opportunity for the college: a new building was being constructed and the technology team had a generous budget. “We decided to ignore price and first decide what we actually wanted,” explained Dan Oachs, Associate Director of Core Services at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota.

And it was easy to find out what the professors wanted and what they didn’t want. They all wanted the same thing—new, bright projectors that were easy to use.

This fit in well with design plans for the new Warren and Donna Beck Academic Hall. The goals, according to Oachs, were to provide classrooms with flexibility of space and lighting, ease of use and to avoid problems with the new technology.

“The projectors are the big focus of all of the classrooms, as it’s the piece of equipment that the professors use the most,” Oachs said. “It’s a very important part of their teaching process, and helping them do the best job they can is something we take very seriously.”

When Oachs stumbled upon projectors with the capability for wireless connection, he saw the possibility for making life extremely easy for the professors. But in his research, he found only one brand that worked across both PC and Mac platforms: Epson.

“The cross-platform access and the EasyMP projection software is what really sold us,” Oachs explained. “All of the professors now just bring their own laptop to class, wake it up, fire up the EasyMP software and off they go.”

As easy as the system is, that didn’t mean they skipped training the professors how to use the new equipment. Before the new hall opened, Oachs and his team set up meetings with small groups of professors to teach them about the new projectors’ features, especially since the Epson Powerlite Pro 5650 wasn’t the only projector installed in Beck Hall.

“We created a few student interaction rooms in the new building,” recounted Oachs. “We installed comfortable seating and an Epson BrightLink projector that converts the wall into an interactive board. They’ve been quite popular—students use the projector when working in study sessions and use the BrightLink pens to collaborate, brainstorm and ultimately capture that information to share with other students.”

Now that Beck Hall’s technology has a few years under its belt—it opened in 2011—Oachs is asking the professors how well they did in achieving their goals. He’s gearing up for a renovation project on campus, and the feedback he receives from the staff will help steer their direction. So far, Oachs is feeling positive about his efforts at Beck Hall. “The new building was such a success we replaced the projectors in all of Gustavus’ other classrooms with new Epsons. Now all classrooms on campus have the same high-quality projectors, and both staff and students are happy to have them.”

Photo Courtesy of Gustavus Adolphus College

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