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IU Northwest unveils Next Generation Technology Classroom

Tech smart room immerses students in project-based learning, enables easy retrieval of notes, lecture

IU Northwest file photo
Flexible work spaces allow for easy interaction. Here, students are gathered around the huddle board.

As technology becomes more embedded into the fabric of our daily lives, so does the way in which we communicate, learn and engage. With this in mind, Indiana University Northwest recently transformed a classroom into a state-of-the-art, technology-rich collaborative learning environment.

The room, coined the ‘Next Generation Technology Classroom,’ will help to stimulate student’s learning through a specially designed flexible learning space and technologically advanced learning tools.

The School of Education, along with Information Technology Services, is giving its tech smart classroom a test run this semester. In a pilot project led by Professor of Education Paul Blohm, Ph.D. and Assistant Professor of Instructional Technology Ju Park, Ph.D. the faculty is encouraged to try out the tools available to aid learning. Features include video conferencing, tables that lend themselves to collaborative work, computer stations on wheels and specialized audio-visual tools that make it easy to record, distribute and replay entire lessons.

Components of the classroom include:

Flexible learning spaces. The space is an innovative project-based learning (PBL) area, not a lecture hall, in which tables can be moved around easily, lending themselves to collaborative work.

Huddle board. This is a white board that can be used to compile ideas and notes at group tables and then be snapped onto a wheeled easel that can easily be moved around the room for presentations.

CopyCam. This image capturing system converts the classroom white board into a digital copy board, enabling instant capture of notes and images. The CopyCam is able to digitally capture and save an image to an instructor’s portable USB drive, a Web page or printer. The capture process does not require a computer and is a simple button push on a small control panel.

SmartBoard. This interactive system allows an instructor to directly annotate an image projected on a special screen. Annotation is possible in four colors using special pens. The projected annotated image can be captured and stored for future use and distribution. Additionally, the pens can substitute for the computer mouse and control the computer directly from the screen.

Classroom capture with echo 360 software. With this technology, the instructor’s voice is recorded at the lectern while screen capture software records everything on the projection screen. They are combined into one video file, enabling the student to later access computer-aided presentations like PowerPoint along with the lecture itself. More effective than reviewing static slides, for instance, the student can essentially attend the class again, catching up on anything they may have missed.

For piloting purposes, these tools are conveniently located in one classroom, Hawthorn Hall (329) so faculty can decide which tools are most relevant for their purposes.

Associate Professor of Biology Michael LaPointe, Ph.D. for example, was so impressed with the classroom capture idea, that he submitted a grant request to have the tool installed in Raintree Hall (102) where he typically lectures in front of more than 100 Human Anatomy and Physiology students, many of whom pile their voice recorders onto his lectern.

“With so much information given in a short amount of time. I can’t have them getting writer’s cramp,” LaPointe said. “I want them to listen to me.”

LaPointe likes to make drawings on his Power Point presentations while he is explaining a concept. By scrawling circles and arrows on top of bullet points about cell division, for instance, he can get the point across more effectively, and provide students with the opportunity to refer back to his drawings to aid understanding while studying at home.

LaPointe points out that the technology also helps students better juggle the demands of work, school and family, a typical challenge for the university’s non-traditional students.  He also sees it as a bridge toward enabling more distance learning, which as he pointed out, “is the wave of the future.”

The tech smart classroom, modeled after the 360 classroom created by Steelcase, is part of the Indiana University Information Technology Strategic Plan, “Empowering People,” which calls for the experimentation and implementation of various innovative approaches to teaching and learning.

“The Next Generation Technology Classroom provides an opportunity for faculty to work with advanced, flexible room design and technology that supports student-centered learning and teacher-to-student and student-to-student interaction,” said Elizabeth Van Gordon, regional campus chief information officer at IU Northwest.

To view a video about the Next Generation Classroom, visit

For more information, or to reserve the class for use with your class, contact Paul Sharpe at (219) 981-4218 or


Media Contact

Emily Banas
Office of Marketing and Communications

Erika Rose
Office of Marketing and Communications

Additional Article Photos

IU Northwest file photo
Dr. Ju Park demonstrates the SmartBoard.

IU Northwest file photo
Dr. Ju Park's voice is captured at the lectern and combined with the visuals on the projection screen for students to access later.