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February 27, 2004 Volume L, Number 25

A Lesson in Technology
In Central Michigan U.’s new $50-million classroom building,
the computer hardware alone cost $5-million.

Next-Generation Classroom
Professors and students in the health
professions program at Central Michigan
University are using state-of-the-art
technology in their recently completed
building to find new ways of teaching and
Marvis J. Lary, dean of health professions, at Central Michigan U.
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The Next-Generation

Anthony Dugal for the Chronicle

central michigan university

Central Michigan University’s new health-professions building, which opened for classes
in January, was designed by the SmithGroup, an architecture firm in Detroit, Mich. The
building, which encompasses 175,000 square feet of total space and cost $50-million,
features classrooms, laboratories, and a clinical wing for the departments of psychology and
communication disorders. The building was designed around what university officials call the
ethic of “body, mind, and spirit.” Stairways connecting the two levels are emphasized over
elevators. Communal spaces with comfortable couches and armchairs are scattered
throughout, offering students places to socialize or study in groups. The grounds feature two
central michigan university “healing gardens” (bottom photograph), where people can gather.

Mount Pleasant, Mich. and he could expound on any part of hardware alone.

ichard Parr, a professor of the material he had taught for more There is no chalk in this building, the
exercise physiology at Central than 36 years. Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow College
Michigan University, describes His perspective changed when he con- of Health Professions. Even whiteboards
himself as an “old school” instructor. sidered the challenge of teaching in take a back seat to enormous, super-
Until recently, he didn’t know much Central Michigan’s new $50-million high-definition video screens.
about technology and avoided it in the classroom building, one of the most tech- Faced with the prospect of feeling out-
classroom. Just give him a stick of nologically advanced in the country. dated and out of place among tech-savvy
chalk and a gaggle of students, he says, About $5-million of its budget went to students in this swank new space, Mr.
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All wires lead to Master Control. From

here, technicians can record a lecture in
any of the classrooms and burn it onto a
disk or stream it onto the Internet. The
control room can also transmit a video of
events in one room to a video screen in
another. And if a professor has trouble with
the hardware in a classroom, he or she can
push a button that alerts staff members in
this control room.
Anthony Dugal

Parr instead became an apostle of advantage of teachable moments,” he Professors can control much of the tech-
change. In a wired classroom on a snowy says. “They are letting the academic goals nology through a simple touch-screen
afternoon, he is giving a talk on obesity, and the pedagogy drive the technology. system on a podium. They can even use a
throwing PowerPoint slides, documents, Everyone talks about doing that, but few digital pen to enter comments over what-
and videos up on the big screens. He’s really do it.” ever is being projected on the video
wearing a tiny wireless microphone, screens, just like John Madden outlining
clipped to his dress shirt. His lecture is Health Tech a play on Monday Night Football.
being recorded for a set of DVD’s he is Other rooms include state-of-the-art
putting together. If he wanted to, he Richard J. Coluzzi, a higher-education- laboratories, outfitted with digital cam-
could pull in a live video of an expert technology consultant in Glen Burnie, eras, along with observation rooms and
from miles away, or stream his lecture Md., says that over the past 15 years holding pens for animal experiments;
onto the Web. many colleges have barely used the clinical wings for the communication-dis-
Like other professors at Central expensive equipment they have installed orders and psychology departments; and
Michigan, Mr. Parr has found that teach- in classroom buildings. “People were put- a nearly completed virtual-reality room,
ing in a wired environment requires ting in technology just to say they had where professors can study body move-
more preparation and planning, along technology,” he says. But in the past ment and mechanics.
with old-fashioned teaching experience three years, as instructional hardware All of the rooms feed into the build-
at the rare times when the technology and software alike have improved, “col- ing’s technological nerve center, called
breaks down. But the professors here leges are really starting to embrace tech- Master Control. From this room, techni-
seem to have found new energy in their nology in teaching.” cians can record lectures and save them
work. Mr. Parr didn’t want to go into Central Michigan’s building, which on tape, burn them onto disks, or send
retirement without taking advantage of opened last month, houses the public them out over the Internet.
the new technology and teaching meth- university’s health-professions program.
ods that are growing more prominent in Here the departments of communication More Teachable Moments?
higher education. “I want my last three disorders, health sciences, physical educa-
years to be the most exciting,” he says. “I tion, physical therapy, and psychology, Marvis J. Lary, dean of the college,
want to go out on top of my game.” among others, hold classes, provide facul- plans to use the new building to raise the
Warren Arbogast, president of ty offices, and conduct research. Large visibility of her programs. She says pro-
ideaReserve, a consulting company that video screens in many classrooms can fessors want to collaborate with col-
helped design the building, says its tech- project a computer display, a snippet of leagues at institutions in Italy and
nology is not a glitzy add-on, but is video, or other media; cameras can cap- France, sending videos of lectures over-
meant to be integrated into the learning ture lectures for later viewing; and seas. She also hopes that the college’s
process. Central Michigan officials microphones and speakers can foster technological advances will help it win
“wanted a building that could take interaction with guest lecturers far away. government grants for homeland-securi-
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ty projects, in which it could send emer-

gency-medical response lessons to hospi-
tals and clinics in the rural areas sur-
rounding Central Michigan University.
The building itself can be an object of
study as well, she believes, as professors
test whether students learn better with
the use of technology in the classroom.
She has not found any studies confirming
that premise, she says: “That’s a study
we’re going to take on here.”
Mr. Parr, for instance, is tracking how
well students do on his exams, which he
has left unchanged since his days as a
chalkboard lecturer. So far he has found
that the technology has neither helped
nor hurt the students’ learning. He plans
to redesign the exams to find out if stu-
dents are now picking up information
that wasn’t tested in the past.
But his new teaching style has won
him better evaluations from students,
and he says the technology has helped
him better connect with them.
“Unanimously, they like what I’m The $500,000 Global Telepresence Facility is the building’s centerpiece.
doing,” he says. Large video screens can display a range of media simultaneously, whether live
Although the building’s hardware and or recorded video, the image from a computer screen, or papers in front of a document
software were designed to be simple camera. Cameras can transmit a lecture to another part of the building or to remote
locations. Each seat has an Internet-connection port and a microphone.
enough for even technology-averse pro-
fessors to use, Central Michigan created a
couple of programs to encourage instruc- walk into any of the enhanced classrooms, To spur more-creative approaches to
tors to pick up new skills. First, the college punch a few buttons on the podium’s its new technology, the college chose
set up a shared server on the campus net- touch screen, and bring up videos, pic- eight instructors as “champions” and
work, with five gigabytes of space for tures, lecture notes, or other media from encouraged them to create high-tech
every professor, enough to hold plenty of the online library to help illustrate an projects that could be used in the class-
lecture slides, PowerPoint presentations, answer. rooms. It worked. One participant creat-
and video clips. Professors can create “The goal is that no matter where ed a digitally animated guide to the
materials using their office computers, you are in the space, you should have inner ear; another helped make a com-
upload the materials to the server, and access to high-quality material, and it puter game to teach CPR; another cre-
instantly call them up in the classroom. If should be as easy as picking hot or cold ated a reverse-lookup dictionary of
a student catches a faculty member in the on a faucet,” says Mr. Arbogast, the American Sign Language.
hall with a question, the professor can consultant. For his project, Renny Tatchell, chair-
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man of the communication-disorders

department, created a database of
1,000 photographs of dissected human
heads, necks, and chests. The photos
were input from slides that he had shot
in laboratories over the years. In his
Anthony Dugal for the Chronicle
office or in the classroom, Mr. Tatchell The technology in the building
can at a moment’s notice bring up pic- was designed to be easy to use.
tures to show students the parts of the By pushing a few buttons on this
body that might be affected by, say, teaching and learning,” he says. “There touch screen, an instructor can
lung cancer. is a secure feeling in having all of this control the displays on the large
video monitors, dim the lights,
“To have ready access to this data- stuff at your fingertips. That’s not pos- pan the room’s cameras, or
bank is an extraordinary tool for sible in other parts of the university.”  operate a DVD player.
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Photographs by Anthony Dugal for the Chronicle

George Bottomley (above, center), director of the physician-assistant program, instructs students as they try to “revive”
SimMan, a simulated disaster victim. A camera records the scene and sends the images to the screen behind the students. It’s
difficult to get more than six people around the SimMan at one time, Dr. Bottomley says, but the camera can stream live video
of the goings-on to a classroom full of people, and beyond. “We have thought about having lectures here and having that
transmitted to hospitals and clinics in other areas,” he says.

Renny Tatchell, chairman of the

department, digitized 1,000
pictures of the human anatomy
and loaded them onto a server.
Now, by pressing a few buttons,
he can display the pictures in any
classroom at any time to add
graphic detail to a lecture. Here
he stands in one of the building’s
lesser-equipped classrooms,
which feature digital-video
projectors instead of high-
definition video screens. As in the
building’s more-advanced
classrooms, though, instructors in
this room have access to a range
of multimedia equipment through
a touch screen at the podium.
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Richard Parr, a professor of exercise physiology, went from what he calls an old-fashioned teaching style to lectures that incorporate
multimedia. Here he uses a digital pen to highlight details in the video presentation behind him. This classroom also has cameras, and some
professors train the devices on students in class, an inconspicuous way to keep an eye on those who have a tendency to goof around or nod
off. Professors can also push a “privacy” button, which blocks all video and audio feeds going out of the room.

Reprinted with permission from The Chronicle of Higher Education, Volume L, Number 25, February 27, 2004 by The Reprint Dept., 1-800-259-0470.
For subscription information go to or call 1-800-728-2803.

New building features clinical,

instructional, and research wings First floor Second floor

The three major components of CMU’s

health professions programs – clinical,
instructional, and research – occupy
separate rectangular wings located on
either side of a single east-west Central
Atrium that runs through the Health
Professions Building. A pair of enclosed
Central Atrium Central Atrium
courtyards augments the rehabilitative
qualities of the university’s health
professions programs.

■ Faculty and Administrative Offices

■ Classrooms
■ Laboratories
■ Clinics
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The CMU Health Professions Building

An advanced center for learning, Health Professions Building Central Michigan University
service, and research programs Central Michigan University enrolls more
Central Michigan University’s new Health Central Michigan University’s Health than 28,000 students and is ranked as the
Professions Building brings together CMU’s Professions Building houses a variety of 43rd largest four-year public university in
health professions, neuroscience, and clinical undergraduate and graduate programs in five the nation.
psychology programs and many associated broad discipline areas: CMU offers more than 200 programs at the
research initiatives and outreach services Communication Disorders bachelor’s, master’s, specialist’s, and
into one technologically advanced environ- Audiology doctoral levels at the university’s main
ment that promotes learning, patient care, Communication Disorders campus in Mount Pleasant, Mich., and
collaboration, and discovery. Speech-Language Pathology through the College of Extended Learning,
Patient services and research initiatives Psychology which offers distance-learning programs
in the Health Professions Building touch Clinical Psychology online and at more than 60 centers through-
many lives. Neuroscience out Michigan and across North America.
• The Carls Center for Clinical Care and Physical Education As a modern doctoral/research-intensive
Education brings together in one Athletic Coaching university, CMU supports significant faculty
multidisciplinary clinic CMU’s Speech, Athletic Training/Sports Medicine and student research, scholarship, and
Language, and Hearing Clinics; the Physical Education Teaching creative work. The university’s more than
Psychological Training and Consultation Special Physical Education Teaching 150,000 alumni include leaders in education,
Center; and Physical Therapy Services. Sport Administration the arts, government, the military, and the
• The Brain Research and Integrative Sport Studies private sector.
Neuroscience Center researches treatment Health Sciences
strategies, pharmacological interventions, Exercise Science For information about CMU’s health
gene therapy, and stem cell transplantation Health Administration care programs contact:
techniques for treatment of neuro- Health Fitness in Prevention and (989) 774-1850
degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Rehabilitation Programs
Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s. Health Promotion and Program Management
• The Rural Telehealth and Community Personal and Community Health
Education Network (RTCEN) provides Public Health Education
health care information and services to and Health Promotion
targeted underserved rural communities. School Health Education
Substance Abuse Education
Rehabilitation and Medical Sciences
Physical Therapy
Physician Assistant