Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

The Cost-Effective Multimedia Classroom

Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

The Cost-Effective Multimedia Classroom

Article excerpt

Multimedia has invaded the classroom. Presentation software such as PowerPoint has greatly enhanced the classroom environment. Even the electronic spreadsheet has proved to be an effective presentation device.

In the contemporary classroom, the computer, combined with the Internet and the traditional VCR, provides the instructor with a broad range of tools for delivery of a dynamic presentation. In an effort to exploit all of this available technology, publishers are providing a broad array of multimedia presentation materials as part of the instructor support literature that accompanies all modern textbooks. They are even developing extensive packages of interactive materials for their Web sites.

Although all of these electronic tools are available, how a modern classroom should be configured remains a major concern for both faculty and administrators. For instance, what mix of high-tech equipment should be included in a contemporary classroom? How can existing classrooms be configured to allow efficient and effective use of multimedia hardware and software? What design is cost-effective, flexible, and easy to maintain?

This article examines the efforts of the accounting department at one mid-sized public university to develop a reliable and cost-effective multimedia classroom. Why and how the process was undertaken is discussed, as well as the cost implications for the department. In addition, both the advantages and disadvantages of the actual system implemented by the department are reviewed.

Historic Background

For several years, members of the department of accounting at this public university have systematically incorporated more and more multimedia into their classroom presentations. Course presentations have begun to include extensive use of electronic spreadsheets, presentation software, videos and the Internet. Electronic spreadsheets are routinely used in the classroom to display and/or develop solutions to assigned problems. Presentation software is used by the faculty during lectures as well as by students during their presentation of assigned case studies. In addition, videos are used to illustrate business processes and to facilitate discussion of specific business practices, while the Internet is used to demonstrate a variety of real-time interactive research activities.

The department and the individual faculty members faced a number of problems when they initially tried to set up a classroom to effectively utilize all of this multimedia hardware and software. First, maintaining the necessary equipment became a logistics nightmare because all of the department's classrooms were in constant use between 8:00 A.M. and 9:00 P.M. daily. Next, the individual faculty members needed to be familiar with how each piece of hardware functioned. Often, equipment was damaged because the user was not familiar with how to operate it. Finally, because the equipment was left in the classroom, it became the subject of numerous acts of vandalism and theft.

The classroom ended up littered with all kinds of expensive and often delicate equipment. An overhead projector and screen were needed to display transparencies, a 27-inch TV and VCR were needed to display videos, and a desktop computer with attached LCD display panel and enhanced overhead projector were needed to display computer generated images.

The overhead projector was fine for displaying transparencies. The TV and VCR worked adequately but one TV was not sufficient to make viewing effective throughout the entire classroom. The computer and LCD projection equipment did not produce a display that was crisp, sharp, and easy to read. In addition, the room had to be very dark in order to adequately view the LCD display.

The Solution

The majority of the College's academic departments elected to develop what the College refers to as IMP (Integrated Media Presentation) stations. …

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