Smart classrooms pose problems for some, open doors for others

Tara Halbritter

Tara Halbritter

In this ever-growing and fast-paced world, many have a hard time keeping up with advancing technology. SDSU is doing an extraordinary job of staying with and, certainly in some cases, ahead of the competition.

An increasing number of “smart classrooms” are showing up on campus.

“The technology gets better every year,” said Marvin Clark, classroom technology specialist at SDSU’s Educational Technology Center.

Clark takes on many roles working for the university. To put it briefly, he is basically in charge of the installation, maintenance and repair of any sort of technology used on campus.

There are currently over 40 smart classrooms at SDSU. Some of these rooms include Ag Engineering 100, Yeager 212 and all of the rooms in Rotunda. Many departments have college-specific systems as well.

Each smart classroom consists of a data projector, AMX brand controller, visual center, DVD/VHS combination unit, complete audio system and a control panel. If a room is missing only a couple of these key elements, it is called a semi-smart classroom.

When the smart classroom program was introduced to SDSU, many thought such a program wasn’t worth the time and money. But, as time progresses, more are finding it helpful to have these resources at their fingertips.

“We get trouble-shooting calls everyday,” Clark said. “It’s usually a five-minute fix.”

Preventative maintenance is performed on the classrooms during every break. “If we didn’t, we’d have all sorts of problems,” said Clark.

Clark said that while many teachers don’t utilize much of the technology available, it comes in handy for teachers who bring their presentations or lectures to class via laptop or memory drive.

One of the most frequent problems that occurs in a smart classroom is when a projector lamp goes out. The lamps are supposed to last up to 2000 hours, but sometimes that’s not the case.

If troubles escalate into more than a lamp going out, it only takes about 15 minutes to swap projectors.

The longest it’s ever taken the tech department to fix a problem was just over a couple hours, when there was a bug in the Rotunda’s audio system.

It’s difficult to compare SDSU with other schools in the state when dealing with technology. However, Clark said instructors have described USD’s version of a smart classroom, and from what they say, it is comparable to a semi-smart room here.

Smart classroom training is available to individuals or groups through the educational technology department. For more information, contact Marvin Clark at 688-4481.