“Smart” Classroom Brings Guest Speakers From Afar

SOCORRO, N.M. April 17, 2013 – In past years when chemistry Professor Michael Heagy wanted to bring in some guest speakers to his graduate seminar, he had to rely on “the kindness of strangers, “ so to speak.

“We have no budget item for speakers to travel so we tend to invite folks from UNM, NMSU, and the two national labs,” he said.

This year, however, he was able to bring University of California-Los Angeles chemistry professor Ohyun Kwon to his Cramer 101 class using the multimedia features of that “Smart” classroom – one of 22 on campus so far – and the Adobe Connect videoconferencing software of Educational Outreach and Distance Instruction, or EODI.

A virtual visit from another UCLA professor is scheduled for later this semester.

Kwon spoke from her Los Angeles office using a webcam and computer microphone; students in Socorro asked her questions using the in-class microphones.

“This gives us the ability to attract high-profile speakers in chemistry with a zero carbon footprint compared to a flight from LAX or wherever, so it’s environmentally friendly,” Heagy said.

“The connection was seamless with no interruption or gaps in the talk,” Heagy said. The address was well-received, though “a few students complained that they prefer speakers here in person. But the caliber of the speakers cannot be obtained here in Socorro otherwise.

“I would highly recommend this approach to other departments with mandatory seminars as part of their Ph.D. program.” Heagy thanked the EODI staff, particularly Distance Education Studio Manager Rob Hepler, for the smooth-running remote session. “He monitored the talk during its entirety to ensure a zero-glitch seminar.”

While EODI regularly hosts live interactive class sessions via the Internet in its four Socorro and one Albuquerque DE classrooms, it is now able to provide the same services to other classrooms on campus outfitted with cameras, microphones, projectors, and other equipment by using Adobe Connect software and EODI’s dedicated Internet bandwidth.

Faculty wishing to bring in virtual speakers from anywhere in the world can contact EODI at eodi@nmt.edu

– NMT –