Technology change causes confusion among professors

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The phrase “technical difficulties” has taken on a new meaning in classrooms this fall.

In many of the classrooms at DePauw University, technology is used by professors to enhance the learning atmosphere. Throughout the campus there is a wide variety of technology being used in classrooms. In order for technology to be effective, professors must know what is available to them in their teaching spaces. Many professors choose their classrooms based on the technology they plan to use in their course.

Recently, in some of the classrooms around campus, there has been a removal of technology, mostly projectors and VCRs. However many of the professors were not consulted in this decision, and it appears that these were executive decisions made by the technology department.

“I think faculty should be consulted or surveyed when classroom technology is being changed, when additional tasks are imposed on us or in general about large technology decisions” said Howard Pollack-Milgate, German professor.

However, removals were made with good intentions in mind. 

“What we were doing was really an effort to reduce the clutter in some of the classrooms,” said Carol Smith, chief technology information officer.

Another goal of the removal was to save money on technology on campus. Brian Howard, chair of the Library Advisory Committee, and a member last year's Academic Technology Advisory Committee, spoke to the cost-effective side of the situation.

“Outfitting all of the classrooms where technology was desired with a full set of devices would cost a lot, so we settled on the compromise of cutting out some of the devices in the standard installation,” Howard said.

While the administration gave reasons for removing the technology, it still caused a brief disruption for some professors.  

“It was really an internal decision at the end of the day,” Smith said.

Some of the professors affected called and got the removed technology back for their rooms. Others did not feel inclined to do so.

Most were not enraged, however, they would have liked to have a say in what was removed and when.

“I think we are given wonderful opportunities for the use of technology in the classroom,” Pollack-Milgate said, “but that we could be more active in giving feedback about what works and what does not.”