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Release: Oct. 11, 1999

UI to host demonstration in new wireless classroom Oct. 15

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The media are invited to a hands-on demonstration in the University of Iowa's newest technologically-equipped classroom Friday, Oct. 15 at 3 p.m. in Room 108 in the English-Philosophy Building. The new classroom, an Experimental Learning Facility, is outfitted with 24 notebook computers that are capable of wireless network and Internet connections.

Among those attending the demonstration will be UI President Mary Sue Coleman; UI Student Government President Lana Zak; Provost Jon Whitmore; John Folkins, associate provost for undergraduate education; David Skorton, vice president for research; Doug True, vice president for finance and university services; Linda Maxson, dean of the College of Liberal Arts; and Diane Davis, an assistant professor of rhetoric who teaches in the classroom this semester.

The Experimental Learning Facility was developed in partnership with Gateway, Inc. Ralph Oxley, a state account executive with Gateway, will also attend the Oct. 15 demonstration.

At the demonstration, Whitmore and Folkins will speak about the benefits the facility offers to teachers and students, and Davis will lead the audience through a typical classroom exercise on the laptops.

Davis, who is teaching a primarily undergraduate course called Electric Rhetorics, says the new facility is a dream come true. In the last few years she has tried to incorporate technology into her curriculum by using traditional computer labs and has found that many times the negatives outweigh the positives. Computers are in fixed positions and students are hidden behind large monitors, unable to interact with each other or the instructor, Davis said.

"This semester, in this new classroom, my students have what I would consider the ideal setup," she said. "Because the laptops are neatly tucked into their charging cabinet when not in use, they're never in the way. My classes are a mix of hands-on work-shopping and theoretical discussion, so it's very nice to be able to pull the laptops out when we're ready for them. It means we never have to work around the technology. It opens an enormous range of possibilities for the classroom."

The new Experimental Learning Facility is a general assignment classroom and will be used by students and faculty members throughout the university. The facility is a pilot project for the UI, and future technological enhancement of classrooms on campus will be based in part on which aspects of the flexible technology in this room are successful.