New classroom teaches Arts students and faculty

A new electronic classroom, the Faculty of Arts Multimedia Lab, is being used as both a learning venue for student courses ranging from modern languages to economics, and a training ground for faculty and staff in multimedia development.

A leader in electronic communication at UBC, the Faculty of Arts has two other multimedia labs which have been serving various departments in the faculty since the mid-1990s.

"Language-learning software is available to students for instruction in French, German, Italian Chinese, Spanish and other languages," says Ulrich Rauch, co-ordinator of the Multimedia Language Centre which will use the lab. "Students practise languages by recording and playing audio and video files on the computers."

Currently about 24 Arts faculty and instructors are learning how to use WebCT, a computer program developed at UBC.

WebCT allows teachers to build their own Web pages for courses and include discussion groups and chat rooms for students who have access to the Internet.

Faculty are also becoming familiar with software to develop presentations and lectures that incorporate audio and video clips. The lab can also be used for video conferencing.

High-tech applications are making learning and communicating easier, but Rauch says maintaining a teacher-friendly environment is also important.

"The human element is still very critical in the teaching and learning process," he says.

Other departments using the facility include Economics and Anthropology and Sociology who are using the lab to teach statistical analysis. The Fine Arts Dept. has digitized its collection of paintings and made them available for viewing. The History Dept. is offering a Web-based course on world history.

The newest lab has been established with hardware and software donated by Hewlett-Packard (Canada) Ltd.

It is the fourth year of Hewlett-Packard's 5-year commitment to give UBC computer equipment to support learning initiatives. Previous recipients include the UBC Library, the Faculty of Applied Science and the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences.