Stony Brook University using technology to revolutionize the classroom

Gone are the days of overhead projectors and the screeching noise of chalk on a chalkboard. Now is the time for Apple TVs and iPads to teach, increasing mobility for college and university professors and bringing more interaction between students and professors, and students and their fellow peers.

Stony Brook University is among the many schools in the country with technology beginning to take center stage and the University is wasting no time. Newly-opened Frey Hall is the technological hub of the school, utilizing Apple TVs in all four of the lecture halls in the building and designing a classroom that may look like it did 100 years ago, but is technologically advanced for 2015.

“The vision for the learning spaces at Stony Brook is supporting teaching practices that already exist but envisioning the ways that faculty want to engage students in the future and power a lot of that through really smart design and the use of technology whether it’s existing or emerging technologies,” the University’s Chief Information Officer Cole Camplese said.

According to Camplese, the classrooms of the future need to support three things in order to be successful. Really good wireless, different kinds of ways for faculty to interact with students and more flexibility.

This, in turn, will allow professors to teach as they please, whether it is to continue to stand in front of a class and lecture, or to walk around and engage their students while using the technology present, something Camplese strongly encourages.

“I think the future of teaching looks less like drill and practice, lecture and repeat, and doing more of that stuff out of the classroom and have time in the classroom to participate and do stuff,” the former Penn State Senior Director of Teaching and Learning with Technology said.

The goal for technology going forward is to be more of an aid in assisting students to learn. At a young age, students are put into groups by sitting at tables, making them work together and work as a team. As students got older, it was more singular in nature, with teachers having students do a lot of the work on their own.

Camplese wants to get back to the good old days.

“Learning is a social enterprise, and we do it better when we do it together,” he said.

There are some downfalls to it, however, as chemistry professor Joseph Lauher describes for his class. He has to use clickers, or quick answering devices to send answers to his laptop, because the phones have one significant downfall to them.

“They just simply aren’t fast enough,” Lauher said. “For what I’m trying to do with my class, they just are not fast enough. Would I love to just use the phones [for both the quizzes and clickers]? Yeah! But it isn’t fast enough yet.”

The big thing that the technology is going to do is unite students and bring back collaborative learning. This takes education back in time when in reality it is moving forward.

“It returns us to a time when technology wasn’t the driver of a classroom,” Camplese said.

As time progresses, Camplese wants to create a diversity of workspaces, where professors can use this technology as much or as little as they please. But the possibility of them being there is what he hopes will entice the professors to use it and realize that there is something there.

“The chalkboard challenged teachers in a way that computers are doing that now,” Camplese said. “It unlocked all of these potentials that scared the heck out of students.”

Well, right now, technology is unlocking a lot of potentials that is scaring the professors instead. But down the road, it will be a great innovation that the teachers will enjoy.

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