Lakehead U gets smart with classrooms

Lakehead University is constructing “smart classrooms” as part of its e-education program, which will house equipment to enhance the learning experience of its students.

At the same time, the university will act as a Canadian beta-testing site for Sony of Canada Ltd., whose e-learning products are being utilized.

Through a partnership with Sony, the Thunder Bay, Ont. university will create the Advanced Technology and Academic Centre which will house 15 smart classrooms, varying in size from an auditorium for 300 students down to smaller rooms for 50 students. The state-of-the-art facility will feature Sony’s data projection equipment, audio enhancement, videoconferencing, Web casting and Web storage technology that can be easily operated by faculty members. The centre will also contain geographic information systems (GIS) teaching and research facilities linked to its forestry program, as well as computer labs that will enhance the quality and quantity of academic teaching and research space on campus.

The university has agreed to act as a beta-testing site for two years, with an option to continue at the end of that period.

The e-learning equipment will allow students to review a lecture at any time instead of having to rely on their note-taking skills. The facilities will also allow the university to grow outside its walls, adding students from remote areas with access to the Net. Construction of the centre began last year and will be completed for the fall semester in 2003.

“What we wanted to do was ensure that yes, we would be competitive with other universities that were moving in the technology area, but not only competitive, we wanted to be a leader,” said Dr. Fred Gilbert, the president of Lakehead University.