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 Wireless Classroom Technology Enhances Learning at SRU: $704,531 in High-tech Equipment 



Jan. 30, 2003

CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine (724) 738-4854;  e-mail:


           SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – Major technology equipment purchases at Slippery Rock University will place additional interactive communication systems, hand-held computers, laptops and digital cameras in a number of classrooms, including physics, chemistry, geology, geography and dance.

           The equipment – on order and funded by the new State System of Higher Education technology fee – enhances learning by permitting real-time interaction between faculty and students. The acquisition of a digital communication system permits students to use data input devices to respond to questions, with a central computer tabulating responses and displaying them for the instructor or entire class.

            Such technology improves an instructor’s ability to assess student comprehension and make changes or immediately clarify misconceptions. The result: better teaching and learning.

           The Rock purchased $704,531 of equipment with resources generated from the assessment of a$100-a-year technology fee initiated by state system’s board of governors for 2002-2003. Some of the equipment has already come in; all of it is expected by June 30.

            Students in a wide range of majors will benefit. Here’s a sampling of the equipment by department:

•          Geography, geology and the environment: high-speed computer with large-screen display; 25 hand-held computers; digital camera; and polarizing microscope

•          Biology: three SMART boards (large, front-of-the-class screens) connected to computers at student desks allow question responses or writing samples to be displayed for the entire class to review

•          Chemistry and physics: a digital communication system

•           Communication, government and public affairs, business, and sociology, anthropology and social work: 30 hand-held computers with student voice data and analysis software

•          English: three, wireless computer carts with 30 laptops to be used in enhancing writing classes

•          Dance and art departments: laptops, wireless cameras and laser Web system for movement analysis

•          Allied health: six laptops and related software

•          Bailey Library: 24 laptops with wireless capability

•          Information technology: independent student Web server to be used by academic groups

•          Music: An electronic drum set and a keyboard with a "brain"

Hand-held units enhance fieldwork

           The hand-held computers, which allow data entry, will facilitate research methodology instruction with fieldwork in seven areas: communication, government and public affairs, business, sociology, anthropology and social work, says Dr. Bruce Russell, dean of the College of Business, Information and Social Sciences.

           The units enable students to collect data at remote sites, input the information then send it to a Web site for analysis. Within minutes, students can download a report, Russell says. The advantage is students have access to more information in a more timely manner. As an example, he says, sociology students could use the technology to map crime statistics, census trends or homelessness in a given area. 

Making high-tech music

           Music has ordered an electronic keyboard with a "brain." The keyboard resembles a xylophone but has rubber pads instead of wooden bars. The keyboard simulates the mallet sounds of a vibraphone, xylophone and marimba, making it a great, multi-purpose instrument for percussionists.

           The high-tech comes a year after SRU replaced its computer network to improve Internet speed in all residence hall rooms and classrooms. Yahoo!, in a survey of nearly 3,000 colleges and universities last year, said SRU had the 147th most useful campus network in the country.

 PN, PgN, PR, PT

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