UMass Lowell Classrooms Get ‘Smart’

10/12/2010
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100 Percent Are Technology-Enhanced to Aid in Student Comprehension, Retention

LOWELL, Mass. ߝ UMass Lowell announced today that 100 percent of its classrooms are equipped with technology that helps faculty explain complex topics to students.

“One hundred and ninety classrooms on campus are ‘smart,’ or technology-enhanced,” said UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan. “This generation of students expects to use technology in every aspect of their lives, especially in education. This investment gives faculty the tools needed in the classroom to help students absorb and retain complicated information, which is key to student success.”

The university’s technology-enhanced classrooms include a teaching podium, computer, digital document camera, DVD/VCR player, laptop and network connections, integrated sound and a system that controls all audio and video from the lectern. Faculty and students are extremely positive about how the technology aids learning not only in the classroom, but also later as students review materials and lectures to prepare for exams.

Lecture Capture Technology Helps Students Retain Information
Some classrooms also include an interactive LCD touchscreen that acts like an electronic writing tablet with the ability to save, share and print class notes. In addition, UMass Lowell recently outfitted 60 classrooms with Echo360 lecture capture technology, the largest deployment of its kind in New England.

Echo360 creates a digital rich media version of the classroom experience that includes video of the instructor and presentation materials used in class so students can access them later from any computer or mobile device to aid in studying.

Nursing major Marcia Schleier, a junior from Wilmington, said that getting a second chance to view the slides and listen to the lectures has helped her understand complex information.

“Listening to lectures after class has really helped me remember information,” said Schleier, a student in Prof. Lisa Abdallah’s “Nursing Assessment and Skills” course. “While in class, I am taking notes and reading the slides, but sometimes I need to fill in some information. But then I go online and watch and listen to the lecture. It’s amazing because when I am taking the test later, I actually hear my professor’s voice and can remember what she said. It really works.”

In addition to using Echo360 lecture capture technology, Abdallah also uses a “clicker” system during class that lets her know how well students are learning the information she is presenting. Each student uses a handheld device to answer the professor’s questions by aiming it at a slide and clicking on their choice of possible answers.

“The new technology in our lecture halls lets us know on the spot whether critical concepts are understood by our nursing students,” said Abdallah. “When I use the clicker system in class, students are more engaged and I receive instant feedback on whether they are absorbing the information.”

Improving Student Success
The expansion of UMass Lowell’s “smart” classrooms to all lecture spaces is just one example of the university’s ongoing efforts to improve students’ academic success. Other initiatives include the introduction last year of learning communities, freshman seminars that teach academic and life skills, and workshops focused on improving performance in challenging courses such as calculus.

These and other initiatives are generating positive results. The percentage of UMass Lowell freshmen who continue on to their sophomore year has increased from 75 to 81 percent since Fall 2007, while the percentage of students who continue on for four years increased from 63.7 percent to 69.1. UMass Lowell also broke records the last three years for the number of graduates, this year awarding 2,390 degrees to undergraduate and graduate students at commencement.

UMass Lowell, with a national reputation in science, engineering and technology, is committed to educating students for lifelong success in a diverse world and conducting research and outreach activities that sustain the economic, environmental and social health of the region. The university offers its 14,000 students more than 120 degree choices, internships, five-year combined bachelor’s to master’s programs and doctoral studies in the colleges of Arts, Sciences, Engineering and Management, the School of Health and Environment, and the Graduate School of Education. www.uml.edu.



For more information, contact media@uml.edu or 978-934-3224