High (Tech) Achievement
LAS is integral to U of I’s recognition as the most wired university.
The naming of University of Illinois as the nation’s “most wired” university came as no surprise to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, where technology advancements have assisted instruction in a variety of departments from chemical sciences to English.
In its October issue, PC Magazine, along with Princeton Review, named U of I the top wired school in the country for efforts including its computing classes and free laptop loan program. The result was also based on survey questions to the school, which were scored in terms of academics, student resources, tech support, and infrastructure.
Craig Jackson, director of Applied Technologies for Learning in the Arts and Sciences, says that LAS has made significant technology improvements to assist instruction. Improvements include network upgrades and expanded wireless Internet access in LAS buildings, placing lectures online, and an increase in the number of courses using online tools such as Moodle, which helps instructors create online learning communities, and NetMath, a distance learning program in LAS for math courses.
A relatively new LAS course, "Writing With Video," has attracted students from a range of majors, including art and design, cinema studies, computer science, creative writing, media studies, and psychology. In the School of Chemical Sciences, students heavily use “VizLab,” which consists of a room with 12 Linux PCs and a 3D stereo projector allowing students to study complex molecules.
Also this semester, chemical sciences is making one class easier for hearing impaired students by using the closed captioning function of Mediasite, a service that enables lectures to be recorded and posted online.
The Altgeld Hall computer network was upgraded, and the mathematics department paid extra to receive wireless coverage in all areas of Altgeld and Illini halls. Complete wireless networking is also planned for the Psychology Building.
“Information technology is a force multiplier and greatly enhances instruction,” Jackson says.
By Dave Evensen
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