Miami University has converted many of Bachelor Hall’s existing classrooms into technology and laptop-friendly spaces in the past few years.
According to English associate professor Heidi McKee, Bachelor Hall was one of the first classroom buildings on campus to be given major technological upgrades.
The Havighurst Lab, located in Bachelor Hall, was updated with 14 iMac Core Duo systems with 17-inch monitors. This change occurred in 2009, McKee said.
The Havighurst Lab is only one of several laptop-friendly, upgraded classrooms in Bachelor.
“In 2006 we converted Bachelor 256 to a laptop classroom, which basically meant we got some chairs and desks that were moveable and improved wireless access,” McKee said. “Then, in 2007 we converted Bachelor 250 and 254.”
The change has been seen as a necessity, as English classes become increasingly reliant on technology, according to Kerry Powell, chair of the English department.
“Most of our first year writing is done in digital environments,” Powell said.
McKee said 70 percent of first year English classes use laptops.
“We’ve done a number of assessments for the college composition program (English 111 and 112) and what we’ve seen is that students have opportunities to write for more diverse audiences and more diverse genres,” McKee said.
However, the switch to digital learning has been a bumpy road at times.
According to Powell, the benefits of laptop-friendly classrooms have made the whole conversion process worthwhile.
“We’ve had to train instructors and there have been all kinds of software issues and teaching issues they (professors) need to learn about to do that job well,” Powell said. “It’s been a major challenge and a major success to do digital writing here.”
The switch has made learning easier, McKee said.
“We have a couple classrooms in Bachelor where we have plasma screens,” McKee said. “These are great for higher digital authoring, so a lot of professors who teach digital publishing will request those rooms and will have students gather around and show them what they’re doing and the students can see in front of them what is happening.”
Powell said access to new technology gives students a better educational experience.
“The act of writing itself is being redefined in the digital age,” Powell said. “It’s no longer all about words on paper. Much of the technology impacts us in writing courses, so increasingly we’re doing the teaching of writing in visual environments.”
Junior Rayna Flannery is supportive of increased technological access on campus.
“I know some students find it easier to take notes on the computer versus writing them by hand,” Flannery said. “I also think having access to the Internet can help add to a topic of class discussion. It leads to more resources immediately available in-class.”