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Business School Opens New Advanced-Tech Classrooms

The Meinders School of Business at Oklahoma City University opened two new executive classrooms this semester, featuring instruction-enhancing technology developed by a professor and the Campus Technology department.

The classrooms have electronic SmartBoards, video cameras, monitors and projectors linked together that allow instructors to utilize JoinProf.com, a teaching tool developed by OCU information technology professor Robert Greve and his business partner, Luke Woodard.

JoinProf allows students to actively participate in live class discussions from anywhere that has Internet access. Students can watch lectures and ask questions by typing text into a field that is displayed on the professor’s monitor. The professor can also direct questions to the class, and all students can submit responses through the website whether they are physically in the classroom or far, far away.

“It gives students an anonymous way to interact,” Greve noted. “Streaming lets you view the lecture, and JoinProf lets you participate in the lecture. But this isn’t just for distance learning. It allows for more and better interaction than the traditional classroom experience.”

By giving poll questions during the lectures, Greve said instructors will be able to determine how well the students understand the material. A large number of wrong answers could indicate that the professor should go over the material again or in a different way. Because the answers are anonymous, students should have no fear of embarrassment for wrong answers or ignorant questions, he said.

An added bonus of the video capture feature is that students can go back and review the lecture, practically eliminating the problems associated with sloppy note-taking.

When participating via computer, the student’s screen shows streaming video of the class on one side and the presentation slides on the other.  A monitor installed in the classroom ceiling shows the professor what the students can see on their screens. The professor can control the camera’s angle and zoom with a remote.

All of the technology automatically switches on at the beginning of class. Administrators can schedule the room number, dates and times into the computer system, so no one is required to turn it on before each class.

Oklahoma City University CIO Gerry Hunt played the key role in setting up the classrooms’ technology.

Greve designed JoinProf after developing a similar platform called LiveClassTech about eight years ago. Continued improvements resulted in JoinSpeaker and finally JoinProf this year.

He is offering the software free to fellow OCU professors and $5 per month subscriptions to faculty at other universities.