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Building 2 classrooms upgraded, A/V equipment added

Ten newly renovated "workhorse" classrooms in Building 2 with modern computer and audio-visual equipment were ready for action when 1997-98 classes commenced.

The classrooms involved were Rms 2-131, 132, 135, 136, 139, 142, 143, 146, 147 and 151. The rooms, which have brand-new fixtures and furniture and self-service audiovisual equipment, will be locked from 11pm-7am Monday through Friday and all day on weekends.

In addition to fresh paint and new lighting fixtures, the renovations encompassed heating and air conditioning, modern chalkboards, hookups that allow a PC or Macintosh to be connected to a video projector, in-room VCR and MIT cable, and recessed speakers.

Two of the rooms, 2-131 and 2-132, have fixed Athena work stations. These rooms are being used for the 11 recitation sections for 18.06 (Introduction to Linear Algebra), which has an enrollment of 260 students, mostly sophomores and juniors. The main lecturer for the course is Martin Luther King Jr. Visiting Professor Steven Lee. Professor Lee is particularly pleased with the Athena work stations, which allow lecturers to project a display onto a large screen easily seen by everyone in the room. "During recitation, the instructors use the projected display and MATLAB computer software to help teach new concepts, build intuition, test conjectures or solve some of the time-consuming subproblems that may arise," he said. "I think this method of teaching, especially in the setting of small recitation groups, is a valuable way to complement what students learn from the lectures, textbook and problem sets."

Provost Joel Moses, an early and ardent supporter of the renovations, believes the new equipment could have a profound effect on 18.06. "With Dr. Lee's help, we should be able to greatly improve our teaching in this subject," said Provost Moses, whose office funded the renovations. "In the coming years we will need to educate ourselves regarding the best ways of using the technology in all the renovated classrooms."

The Registrar's office, Audio-Visual Services and Academic Computing are organizing training programs for faculty and exploring additional academic possibilities made possible by the new technology.

"These renovations greatly improve the teaching and learning environment for faculty and students," said Associate Registrar Mary R. Callahan, who played a key role in planning and implementing the project. "Much attention was devoted to the design of these rooms, including a simple control panel, good sight lines, maximum board space and readily accessible audio-visual equipment. We plan to work with faculty and students in evaluating the rooms and hope to incorporate any suggestions in our future designs."

Professor Lawrence S. Bacow, who helped provide the impetus for the renovation program as 1996-97 chairman of the Faculty Policy Committee, has an unusual perspective on the renovations. He was a student in an 18.02 recitation in one of the classrooms when he was a freshman in 1969.

"The room was in need of work back then, and had not changed at all until the renovations began this summer," recalled Professor Bacow. Many of the rooms have not been updated for years, except for fresh paint and new lighting fixtures.

Twenty-three more "workhorse" classrooms will be renovated over the next two summers. "Our students and faculty will love it," said Dr. Bacow (SB '72), a professor of law and environmental policy in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning.

Eventually, all of the Institute's classrooms will be evaluated. The renovations mark a rebirth of Project 2000 started by the late Dean Margaret MacVicar.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 17, 1997.

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