May 15, 1997
Vol. 16, No. 17

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    Teaching for the next century: Multimedia classrooms to debut

    Acting on faculty requests and recommendations from the Provost's Ad Hoc Committee on Instructional and Research Media, the University will soon be introducing 21 classrooms equipped with the latest in multimedia technology as well as traditional audio-visual equipment.

    At the touch of a button, faculty members will be able to project slides, overhead transparencies, video, text and computer-generated graphics and simulations, as well as play audio cassettes and CDs .

    The new, general-purpose media classrooms will be available for instructional use in late May. They can be reserved through the Registrar's Office on an occasional or quarter-long basis. Access to the multimedia equipment, as well as additional resources, is available through the new office of Multimedia Services, a part of Academic Computing Services.

    "We want to make it as easy as possible for faculty to integrate this technology into their teaching," said Patricia Swanson, Associate Provost. "We found that faculty from nearly all disciplines use, or wish to use, audiovisual and digital media in their teaching and research, either as primary objects of study or as supplemental and illustrative materials. Now it will be much easier to use these media."

    Committee member Mary Carbine, Assistant Director and Curator of the Film Studies Center, said, "We really needed to bring University-wide media presentation facilities up to par with those at our peer institutions and also with our level of scholarship. The positive thing about waiting so long is that we can really do it right. We're implementing these classrooms on the cusp of new technology. We are making sure they are Internet-equipped and new-media-ready and can support traditional audio-visual media as well."

    Fifteen Basic Media Classrooms will be available in Cobb, Pick, Wieboldt and Harper, and will come equipped with a television, audio CD player, audio cassette player, VHS and S-VHS U.S.-standard VCR, projection screen, sound system and an Ethernet connection. If a request is placed through Multimedia Services, a slide and overhead projector can be installed. All equipment will be stored in a locked and secured media cabinet with keys made available to requesting faculty and instructors. International-standard VCRs and other devices will also be available on request, by pick-up, from Multimedia Services.

    Six Multimedia Classrooms, including some larger lecture halls, with additional technological functions, will be available in Cobb, Pick, Harper, Social Sciences and Kent. These will be equipped with high-resolution data projectors that will be capable of projecting onto a screen images from any PC, Macintosh or workstation, as well as U.S. and international-standard video. In addition, computer-to-projector interfaces will be available as well as state-of-the-art sound capabilities.

    The Basic and Multimedia classrooms will be available for regular scheduling beginning with summer quarter. To reserve a room, faculty members should call the Registrar at 702-7883.

    Portable equipment, such as slide, overhead and video projectors, is currently available to faculty or teaching assistants for University Registrar-scheduled classes and can be reserved by calling Multimedia Services. The media classrooms and portable equipment may be used free of charge. Multimedia Services, which will be headquartered in Wieboldt 111 as of mid-May, provides services to all faculty, with the exception of those in the Biological Sciences Division and the Graduate School of Business, which have separate audio-visual services. Multimedia Services can be reached at 834-4499 or ms-res@listhost.uchicago.edu.

    Later this month, faculty and administrators will receive The Media Guide, which is organized to help facilitate all aspects of media use for these special facilities, from obtaining equipment for classroom use to instructions for use of media housed in Regenstein Library. The guide also covers the process for submitting acquisitions requests for specific media titles.

    The Provost's Ad Hoc Committee on Instructional and Research Media was chaired by George Chauncey, Associate Professor in History. In addition to Swanson and Carbine, the committee members included Martha Feldman, Assistant Professor in Music; Wendy Griswold, Associate Professor in Sociology; Robert Kaster, the Avalon Foundation Distinguished Service Professor in Classical Languages & Literatures; John Kruper, Director of Biological Sciences Division Academic Computing; Joel Mambretti, Director of Academic Computing Services; R. Kipp Martin, Professor in the Graduate School of Business; and Martha Ward, Associate Professor in Art History.

    The committee's full report was published in the May 23, 1996, issue of the Record.