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October 11, 2007

Creating a Classroom for the Twenty-First Century

Groundbreaking for the new UC Davis Law School expansion occurred earlier this month. The new building will add many classrooms and much needed space for student group work.

Like many law schools, we are thinking hard about what kind of technology should go into the classroom. We propose, for example, to build in video conferencing into our rooms.

What kind of equipment do you like--either as a professor or a student? What do you dislike?

What kind of equipment has your law school just installed? And has it been a success?

What does your ideal classroom podium look like? Do you like microphones at each student chair?

Anupam Chander

October 11, 2007 in Technology -- in the classroom | Permalink


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No internet in the classroom if you can avoid it. I've yet to hear of a reasonable pedagogical reason to have it. Sure, there might be one class that is especially suited to it, or you might have one day in a traditional class where it is neat to have. But on balance, you might as well turn on a big plasma screen tv, tune it to ESPN or CNN and have that accompany your lectures/discussions. It's a real waste. But, hey, if you really "need" it, you can always add a wireless system later.

Posted by: B | Oct 11, 2007 6:23:54 PM

In response to "B", to cut off Internet access to prevent CNN browsing seems like an extreme solution to a containable problem. If the root problem is distraction, an unconnected laptop can still run Hearts (or, as I've mentioned before, Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!). And there are plenty of good reasons for having internet jacks as well as wireless in classrooms which need not be rehashed. Anyway, a reasonable compromise seems to be to have a master switch at the podium that would allow the prof to cut off both wireless and wired access for those extreme cases where the prof is both so dull and so lacking in authority that a physical intervention is necessary.

Re: video conferencing, I can imagine a future classroom in which not only is the guest speaker piped in from, say, Paris, but because every student has a webcam in his/her laptop, the speaker can also field questions from students and see the questioner.

Finally, this is not a point about technology (per se), but think carefully about the ergonomics of your classroom. Back when I was in school we had fixed seats, and to prevent injury I left my assigned seat to use a chair where I could put my laptop on my lap (which is ergonomically safer than at comfortable writing height). It would be very expensive, but adjustable table/chair combos would both be better for ergonomics and give you more flexibility should you need to convert the classroom into a seminar discussion, or skills practice lab.

Posted by: Gene Koo | Oct 17, 2007 12:01:54 PM

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