English department welcomes wireless laptops to classroom

Kevin Kolus

Four wireless laptop classrooms, complete with $400,000 worth of equipment donated by Dell, were installed in Satterfield Hall at the end of summer.

Pam Takayoshi, associate professor and digital composing coordinator for the English department, co-wrote and presented the Dell-approved grant. She said Dell donated the equipment based on the new curriculum developed by the English department.

“Dell was impressed with the student work that was produced here at Kent,” she said.

Takayoshi said the new curriculum, which is meant to teach multi-modal skills to students, such as creating multi-media Web sites and presentations, excited Dell. She said the computer company was interested in Kent State’s writing program because the equipment would be used for more than just composition.

“Not many writing programs across the country have received this kind of gift,” Takayoshi said. “What captured Dell’s attention is that we weren’t asking for a room to write it.”

Brian Huot, professor and writing program coordinator for the English department, said multi-modal skills are necessary for a student’s survival in academia.

“Nowadays, to be an educated person, you have to know how to use a computer, to go beyond ‘just print,'” he said.

The rooms, which have both round tables and desks, are designed to allow instructors to circulate and help students during the writing process.

“It allows students and teachers to interact at the point of composing,” Huot said. “You won’t just talk about writing in a writing class.”

Huot said although computer classrooms were long overdue for Satterfield Hall, he is pleased with how the university is firmly committed to the program.

Along with the wireless laptops, each room is outfitted with projectors. The department has also received digital cameras and camcorders, audio recorders and transcription machines to aid the new writing program. Takayoshi said these items were the necessary hardware for multi-modal composition. She said these rooms are more advanced than English classrooms at most other universities.

Takayoshi said the English department had 40 workshops in Spring 2006 to acclimate instructors to the curriculum and the role of these classrooms in teaching. The first of these classrooms was installed last year in Room 214 of Satterfield Hall.

Thomas Euclide, director of Office of the University Architect, said the rooms almost didn’t open on schedule this semester. The delivery of the air-conditioning units, which require eight to 10 weeks to arrive, was late, and came one week before fall classes began.

Takayoshi said the English department was very worried.

“We were biting our nails a little bit over here,” she said.

A sixth classroom will be installed during Christmas break to complete the installation of the wireless laptop classrooms.

Contact building and grounds reporter Kevin Kolus at [email protected].