KINGSTON, R.I. – September 15, 2008 – With an eye toward helping educators keep all students actively involved in the learning process, the University of Rhode Island is creating state-of-the-art classrooms.
New technology is helping pre- and in-service teachers create more engaging and efficient learning environments for their classrooms. David Byrd, director of the School of Education, and David Porter, director of media and technology services, presented models of the classrooms – funded by a $5.6 million state grant for technology in education – to the Governor’s PK-16 Council. A crowd of more than 50 people from higher and secondary education, the statehouse and the business world were on hand for the presentation, held in the Galante Lounge of the URI Library on Friday, Sept. 12.
To demonstrate one aspect of the technology, Byrd gave 12 members of the council a clicker, which is a wireless remote that can be used for anonymous polling for multiple-choice questions projected on a screen. Byrd asked council members, “What element provides the most potential for producing energy?” After giving council members a few moments to record their answer, Byrd was able to produce a bar graph showing how many responses were submitted for each of the four possible answers.
The exercise demonstrated how all students are kept engaged in a lesson, rather than just those students willing to contribute verbally to the discussion. It also helps the teacher immediately gauge how effective a lesson has been.
“Students like learning more when they have meaningful things to do,” URI education professor Jay Fogleman said in a video clip shown during the presentation.
The presentation also showed how professors are able to use technology to post lectures on the Internet for students to view on their own, away from the classroom. If a student needs to hear a lesson again, they can simply re-watch portions of the lecture. This helps students enter the classroom more prepared, which in turn allows for more meaningful discussion during actual class time.
“It is not hard to appreciate that this is not your father’s classroom,” said council member Jack Warner, commissioner of the Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education.
URI is upgrading 21 classrooms and four auditoriums in 10 buildings. New Order, Multi-Modal, Advanced-Design (NOMAD) Learning Spaces are being created in three buildings, while upgrades are also going to the Center for Biotechnology and Life Sciences, the Pell Library/Inner Space Center and Lippitt Hall.
Funding is also going to similar projects at Rhode Island College and the Community College of Rhode Island. Faculty members from both schools also made presentations to the Council on Friday.
University of Rhode Island President Robert Carothers tests the new Clicker technology that was demonstrated for the Governor’s PK-16 Council.
David Byrd, director of URI’s School of Education, speaks during his presentation on advances in technology in classrooms at the school.
URI Department of Communications & Marketing photos by Michael Salerno Photography.