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IU Northwest technology upgrades rival that of best-wired institutions

Campus announces significant improvements, including 60 additional computers and 20 wired work stations

Thursday Sep 13, 2012

When it comes to computers, a common perception is that the latest technology is outdated almost as soon as it is purchased and installed.

Despite this notion, Indiana University Northwest has managed to keep pace with the country’s best-wired institutions, including IU Bloomington, said Mark Uncapher, director of Microcomputer Support.

The most notable addition to the IU Northwest campus computing experience, he said, is the Marram Hall Student Technology Center, opening its doors to students the first week of the Fall 2012 semester.

“Marram 103 represents the IU Northwest commitment to providing environments and technology that support student success, which is a campus primary mission,” Uncapher said. “This new space incorporates the latest in room design and technology to provide inviting, effective study space.”

Modern computing

The newly renovated area looks nothing like a traditional computer lab. Gone are the rows upon rows of big, clunky computers that hummed along while users bumped elbows with their neighbors. The bulky monitors and towers that used to clutter university computer labs seem to be going the way of the pay phone.

The Marram center has sleek, all-in-one monitors with touch screens and a selection of collaborative work stations with 60-inch monitors and cordless keyboards and mice. It’s easy for students to tote along their own technology; the center furnishes students with the ability to plug in their devices just about anywhere and even use them in conjunction with others to share information easily.

Anticipating future changes in the technology landscape, the lab was designed to grow with the times. The furniture and adaptable space in the Marram lab and other common areas are designed to accommodate students who bring their own devices as well as those who use campus machines. Lab assistants will have every cable and auxiliary equipment a student might need to wire up.

In total, the campus has upgraded more than 100 computers for student use and added 60 additional computers and 20 work stations in which student can use their own laptop computers or other devices.

Working with large, complex multi-media files? No problem

The advanced multi-media lab adjacent to the Little RedHawk Café on the library’s first floor is the place to work on multi-media presentations that involve complex graphics, audio files and more.

The lab’s four high-powered computers, complete with blue-ray players and burners, media production tools, and superior processors enable students to work with complex files with ease – and speed. Heavy lifting - like analyzing statistical databases - can be done here in a fraction of the time.

“On a computer in an ordinary lab, it could take an hour to render a scene. In here, it can take as little as 15 to 20 seconds.” Uncapher pointed out. “Ordinarily, it might take 15 to 20 minutes to run through data. In this lab, it would only take a minute.”

The latest instructional tools help faculty teach, students learn

Coined the “Next Generation Classroom,” a special experimental classroom in Hawthorn Hall contains all of the latest instructional tools, enabling faculty to explore methods to enhance their instruction. From capturing entire lectures and transferring them to computer files, to the most advanced video conferencing capabilities, the room serves as a training ground for faculty and staff as well as a place where instructors can bring their students for high-tech collaborative projects. All of the files created with the technology can be placed online for student access at any time from anywhere.

“Using the ‘Next Generation Classroom’ as an experimental space provides faculty members with opportunities to creatively incorporate technology into their curricula,” said Paul Sharpe, director of Instructional Media Services.

Sharpe said that, in addition to the variety of advanced technologies being trialed in the space, his team is currently working with Microsoft to evaluate the effective use of Xbox Kinect in a collaborative learning environment, both virtually and in classroom experiences.

Need quiet? A space to collaborate? There is a place in the library for you

All three floors of the Anderson Library Conference Center offer plenty of computer access and comfortable places to spread out and plug in your own devices. Choose between quiet places and places for collaborative and creative work with classmates.

Laptop computers may be checked out at the Information Commons, located on the first floor of the library, which also contains 67 computer stations for student use, as well as 16 computers where food and drink can be enjoyed while computing at the Cyber-Café.

The first floor also houses an adaptive technology room to accommodate those with special learning needs.

The second floor is a collaboration area with 20 computers. The third floor is a quiet zone with 37 computers. This new space adds 20 computers to the library computer areas, along with 20 open cubicles with power boxes to bring your own technology.

Anyone with a university ID and login information is welcome to use the computers on campus.

Beth Van Gordon, Chief Information Officer for IU Northwest, IU South Bend and IU Kokomo, said that a primary goal of IU Northwest’s University Information Technology Services is to provide technology environments that enrich students’ academic lives.

“The new Marram Student Technology Center represents the commitment to providing contemporary technology in open, flexible learning spaces. The new facility in Marram 103, and the experimental classroom in Hawthorn 329, promote and address the strategic commitment of the University’s IT Strategic Plan, ‘Empowering People.’ These two facilities promote innovative, engaging learning experiences that involve IT tools for creating content, for expressing viewpoints, for virtualizing experiences, and for collaborating.”

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