The Campus Gets a Major Tech Upgrade

IT support specialist Klaus Trilck demonstrates how the iPad 2 can be used as an investment tool in Professor Jan Jindra's class.

September 6, 2011

As part of the school’s strategic initiatives, Menlo College has recently implemented a wide range of technology improvements. The new upgrades include leading-edge systems to assist learning, as well as basic enhancements to the school’s technology infrastructure.

“Because of our Silicon Valley location, we can take advantage of the expertise that is right next door and bring in the best new technologies out there,” said Raechelle Clemmons, CIO of Menlo College. “We also have a student body that is extremely tech-savvy, so it’s important that we respond to their needs and help them learn in the most engaging ways possible.”

However, college administration and faculty are taking a deliberate approach to ensure that the technology is truly a benefit to the classroom, rather than simply getting it for the sake of having it. For example, the school recently acquired 40 iPads as new teaching tools. Available for check-out by faculty, the iPads are being used in specific classes as part of the curriculum. In his investment class, Professor Jan Jindra has given iPads to his students in his investment class for the semester, to see how it might change their investment behavior. He is interested in seeing if they are empowered to conduct more trades in their simulated portfolio by having access to the tools and information available on the iPad all the time.

Likewise, Professor Deborah Brown McCabe plans to preload iPads with an exercise for her marketing class, where students will work in small groups to categorize words by moving virtual Post-Its. “The iPad has great potential for collaborative work and influencing the learning environment,” said Dr. McCabe. 

Another recent addition to campus is virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), which allows a student to access campus computers and all their software from their own computers. Previously, if a student wanted to use a program like IBM SPSS Statistics or Marketing Plan Pro, they had to come to the computer lab and use one of the computers there. With VDI, they can run the programs from their laptop in their dorm room or anywhere else, any time, as long as they are connected to the Internet. “This technology can have real value for students and help them succeed in their academic careers, since they are no longer constrained by those physical limitations,” said Clemmons. “We’re excited to be a leader in bringing this innovative technology to them.”

The instructional computer lab is one of five classrooms in Brawner Hall that has been completely upgraded.

Meanwhile, campus classrooms have been upgraded with a slew of enhancements. Brawner Hall now has Wi-Fi throughout the entire building, and five classrooms in Brawner and Florence Moore Hall have been transformed into state-of-the-art teaching facilities, with document cameras (also known as digital overhead projectors), smart podiums (which let a presenter show easily display video and control it with a remote), and other useful functionality. Athletics rooms have been augmented with audio-video equipment and digital projectors for analyzing game plays—part of the IT department’s mission to ensure that every part of campus is up-to-date.