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Lights, Camera, Medical School?

AMX technology turns typical lectures into slick productions that engage students, instructors
University Business, Sept 2011
Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada
Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada

The word “class” really doesn’t do justice to what medical students attend in the newly renovated lecture theatre at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada.

“It’s a production, which is so much better,” said Ed Hipditch, manager of classroom technologies with Memorial University’s Distance Education, Learning and Teaching Support (DELTS) department. “Students walk in and say ‘Wow!’ ­The wow factor is important when educating someone. It’s not just someone scribbling on a chalkboard.” ­

The tired, 346-seat auditorium—also used for white coat ceremonies for pharmacy and medicine students, nursing graduation and medical grand rounds—recently was transformed into a digital wonderland. As a result, it received the AMX Innovation Automation and Control Award. ­

The renovated space—designed by the DELTS department in consultation with the Faculty of Medicine and others—includes pre-set lighting controls; two high-end, 16x10 screens and two 7,000-lumens widescreen projectors to display two separate images on each screen; three user stations; stationary controllers in the front of the room and in the projection booth; a wireless unit; document camera; two computers; and two laptop connectors. Videoconferencing, lecture capture and audience response clickers are also part of the package.

“To meet the needs of today’s students, who relate to multimedia so well, this equipment helps convey a more effective message to the viewer—the student,” Hipditch said. “It’s improving education and making learning more impactful. And it’s easy to use, very intuitive. All the work is done behind the scenes.”

'It’s improving education and making learning more impactful. And it’s easy to use, very intuitive.'

“The dual screens enhance the use of our audience response system,” said Eugene Ryan, manager of media services at Health Sciences Information and Media Service, Faculty of Medicine. Utilizing AMX control, we can provide content on one screen and record the response on the other screen for the benefit of all.” Ryan added, “As we move forward with our new curriculum, there will be less didactive lecture and more of a collaborative approach. Soon, students will use the videoconferencing to work with peers off-site.”

And there is no underestimating the importance of exceptional image quality when it comes to educating future physicians. “There are two very bright projectors in 16x10 format, wide screen and high definition,” said Sean O’Neill, director of HSIMS, Faculty of Medicine. “­They enable us to display better images of digital X-rays, CAT scans, MRIs, slides of tumors and other things medical students need to see. ­That will translate into a better learning experience for the students.”

The upgraded auditorium is used by more than 1,200 students and residents, as well as by employees and staff from the local health authority. ­The space also accommodates university functions, public presentations and local and national conferences. “­This is considered a flagship space for the Faculty of Medicine and is where significant teaching and administrative events take place,” Project Director Wes Drodge said. ­

The AMX award comes with $25,000 in AMX technology and equipment, which will be used for further enhancements on campus, school officials said.