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.

FiveThirtyEight: Doing data journalism the right way

As far as data journalism is concerned, there’s really one name that has shot up through the ranks in the past couple of years. That name, is FiveThirtyEight.

Whether it’s making their name with ESPN in sports, or politics, they’ve done a great job of creating compelling pieces of data journalism, like the one that I picked out for this week.

Screen Shot 2015-04-21 at 5.42.22 PMEngland’s preliminary elections are coming up later this year, and FiveThirtyEight is being creative with their pieces of data journalism, by creating maps and discussing the demographics.

FiveThirtyEight is a great source for data journalism and a unique angle on different things, not just in sports. Everything in the world now is going to start revolving around numbers and data analysis, so people are going to want to go towards this website rather than other ones in the near future.

And they’ve got a head start.

Hashtags: The key to social media success

In the grand scheme of things, I am a social media nobody. Think about it. I currently sit at the giant number of 562 followers. To put this in perspective with people in my field of work, Mike Tirico (ESPN broadcaster) has 408k followers, Peter King (Sports Illustrated Writer) has 1.495 million followers, and Buster Olney’s (ESPN MLB Insider) currently stands at 1.04 million.

These guys are all famous because of where they work, but they did not have the help of social media. So what does a nobody like me have to do to engage in the conversation? #Hashtags. My number of followers over the last three weeks has increased over the last three weeks, and there’s solely one reason why: #MarchMadness.

The Duke Blue Devils defeated the Wisconsin Badgers at Lucas Oil Stadium on Monday, April 6 in the NCAA Men's Basketball National Championship game (Photo Credit: ABC News)
The Duke Blue Devils defeated the Wisconsin Badgers at Lucas Oil Stadium on Monday, April 6 in the NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship game (Photo Credit: ABC News)

Anybody who knows me, I am a huge college basketball fan. I would love to become a college basketball writer when I’m older if I got to choose my sport during my sports journalism career. So, the busiest time of my twitter account is most certainly during those 10 days of which the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship is on.

I tweeted my analysis of everything that came to mind and used the #MarchMadness to get it out nationally. This propelled me up in the follower count, and got a couple of notable follows as well (see: Sam Vecenie and Kim Adams, two college basketball writers for CBS and ESPN, respectively).

One other thing that hashtags do, is not only get you noticed, but it engages you in conversation with many other people. As a sports writer with analyzing and tweeting your opinions, it will always either rile people up or get people on your side. This conversation particularly please me that happened during the first round of The Masters (by the way, if somebody can tell me what a pillock is I will be grateful).

One thing about twitter is that if you are known and work at a big company (see: ESPN, NBC Sports, CBS Sports, etc.), your notoriety is going to be given to you by the name of the company. But if you’re a small nobody like me, you’d need to get your name out there and in a national perspective. Hashtags do just that.

A Driver’s License: The key to freedom

Growing up, all somebody wants to do is be older, have a driver’s license and go wherever they want. Stony Brook University junior Ria Hossain is almost there. She’s got her license, but the car is just out of reach at the moment.

During this podcast, she talks about her life growing up in New York City and how she has to rely on the Metro Transit Authority wherever she goes. It starts to become a pain, and her schedule starts to rely on theirs.

With a long school commute that could be easily cut at least in half and friends out on Long Island that are out of reach, a car is the only thing keeping her from the ultimate freedom of being able to go where she wants, when she wants.

Not New York City: New Tech City

Let’s take a trip shall we? Into a world where technology changes our lives day in and day out and is a critical part of how we live. Well, that day could be today, it could be tomorrow, or it could be five years from now. Depending on the way you look at it, technology is changing the way that people access information and connect with one another every day whether we see it or not.

The podcast with Mamoush Zomorodi claims to have "No jargon—just compelling stories about how technology is changing our lives for better and for worse"
The podcast with Mamoush Zomorodi claims to have “No jargon—just compelling stories about how technology is changing our lives for better and for worse”

One podcast that does a great job of telling us about this is the WNYC production New Tech City with Manoush Zomorodi. They tackle the topics that we, as everyday consumers of technology, don’t normally think about when it comes to always-changing world consisting of smartphones and tablets.

As far as technical terms, I think this podcast does a great job of encompassing different background noises that keep one engaged and keeps the brain involved. Just hearing somebody ramble for 20 minutes on a podcast does not keep someone interested and likely will tune them out.

The unique transition sound effects that create a swoosh keep the brain occupied, and along with the subtle high-pitched background music and unique sound effects to accompany what the subject is talking about.

In the first episode I reviewed, “Is Braille Obsolete” they talk about how blind people are using Kindles and iPads to read books. Also being put to use at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired are things like talking typewriters, singing calculators and even video games that you can navigate by only using sound.

While these are cool gadgets in their own respect, the way that Ryan Kailath brings it to life with various sound effects keeps the listener both intrigued and helpful as a instructor helps a 14-year old student by the name of Demetria Ober read books.

The worldwide bestseller was turned into a trio of movies, the first of which premiered last year. Starring Shailene Woodley.
The worldwide bestseller was turned into a trio of movies, the first of which premiered last year. Starring Shailene Woodley.

When the instructor says that the hit “Divergent” is one of the books that she bought, Ober’s face lights up. No, you couldn’t see it. But the way it was captured, you could feel it.

In the “Tweens and Tech Guide: Getting them to open up,” episode, they talk to a middle-school teacher Dierdre Shetler, and how she uses technology in her school. The one thing I like about this is that NTC incorporated their listeners into the podcast, which is what drives them on a weekly basis.

One thing that I think is important is the fact that when podcasts/blogs/etc. get giant, they forget about the little guys. The guys that helped them get there and the listeners that were there from day one. These people are the reason that they are famous on the big stage today, so I think it’s always incredible that the podcast can give back and give her a spot on the show.

The journey from Rochester to Long Island

Jim Mandelaro currently writes for the Democrat and Chronicle, covering local collegiate athletics and the Rochester Red Wings (Photo Credit: Democrat and Chronicle)
Jim Mandelaro currently writes for the Democrat and Chronicle, covering local collegiate athletics and the Rochester Red Wings (Photo Credit: Democrat and Chronicle)

The story of Cameron Boon in journalism began on July 28, 2007 when my parents won a silent auction for me to go up into the press box of a Rochester Red Wings game with a local writer by the name of Jim Mandelaro. When I arrived, I knew I loved what I saw. I was in a baseball press box with a professional writer. To make things even better, the game was really exciting and it drew me in from the start.

A couple of things happen that day that really made me fall in love with what Mandelaro was doing. First off, I was already a huge sports fan. So covering sports on the daily looked like a job in heaven for me. Talking to players, writing about teams, it just all seemed right for me.

The second thing that happened was I got put into his blog. That again, is another good story. I kept score of the baseball game on a scorecard like they all did and brought it home. What I ended up doing, to the surprise of everybody in my family and Mandelaro, was wrote an article about the game. Complete with quotes and everything, I sent it in.

A very intense 11-year old Cameron Boon watches as the Red Wings play the game (Photo Credit: Jennifer Boon)
A very intense 11-year old Cameron Boon watches as the Red Wings play the game (Photo Credit: Jennifer Boon)

To my surprise, he published a piece about me on his blog and posted the article as well, complimenting how well it was done. When this happened, I was ecstatic. I just got published as a 11-year old and felt on top of the world. So, I figured I would pursue the sports writing business and that is how I got into journalism.

As for Stony Brook, that story is not as big. Originally, I wanted to go far away from home, but not too far. I didn’t actually realize how far Stony Brook was away from Rochester but that is besides the point.

I visited down here on admitted students day and met Marcy McGinnis, who is now at Al Jazeera America, and she told me all about the program that they had. I was attracted to the school by how young they were and already successful. I wanted to be a part of that.

The decision was made on my way home from my high school’s New York State Federation Basketball Tournament of Champions Semifinal, a game that we lost, and it kind of just came to me.

Cameron Boon with his younger brother Tyler, 16 (top right) and younger sister Brianna, 13 (bottom right) at the Family Weekend football game last year (Photo Credit: Jennifer Boon)
Cameron Boon with his younger brother Tyler, 16 (top right) and younger sister Brianna, 13 (bottom right) at the Family Weekend football game last year (Photo Credit: Jennifer Boon)

I wanted to be a part of a young program that was getting better as it went and was already one of the top 50 schools in the country. Oh and also being close to the Big Apple on Long Island helped as well.

Stony Brook Food Critic

The Fun and Cheap Eats blog at Stony Brook was done very nicely by Kryssy and Nicole, but I would have a couple of suggestions about it.

First off, I think the intro was a little short. I think, instead of teasing the normal places and getting away from them, they could have mentioned them in the open and described them a little bit. Describe what the Curry Club is like, what Crazy Beans is like… I think it would have gotten the people interested.

Also, I think there were probably too many words. I like the idea of trying to insert facts into the story, but at the same time, I don’t like the fact that the words are getting in the way of the pictures. The main attraction of this is supposed to be the pictures, but the words are getting in the way.

One idea to change this would be to introduce each place, and after the subheading, insert the fun facts and other things that they want to talk about before the photos. Then, you can insert the rest of the wide shot photos and let them tell the rest of the story.

One other thing I did not like about the photos was that there are some that are vertical. It kind of breaks it up, and I think this whole thing is supposed to flow. But there is only a couple of those so that is nice.

What I did like was the framing of a lot of the shots. They made ordinary food look very artistic and it makes it look even more appetizing than normal.

Another thing I like is the variety of the shots that they created. I really like the people behind the food is critical. Everybody sees the food and would be attracted to that, but at the same time, I think that showing the faces makes it a little more appealing, especially smiling faces.

Overall, I think it was very nice that they got a variety of shots from the nice food shots to the people behind it. And I’m sure the girls had a lot of fun eating the food as well!