University-wide Technology Upgrades Give Advantages to Students

L to R: Antonio Gonzalez, Genesis Torres, Yougnand “Yugi” Paul

L to R: Antonio Gonzalez, Genesis Torres, and Yougnand “Yugi” Paul

January 31, 2018

With numerous technological upgrades implemented in classrooms throughout the Queens, Staten Island, and Manhattan campuses, St. John’s is poised for the future of teaching and learning.

“Eighty percent of general purpose classrooms have been upgraded,” said Anne Rocco Pacione, Interim Chief Information Officer. “Now, we are focused on emerging academic technologies. The future at St. John’s includes more specialized learning environments with classroom resources specific to different disciplines.” 

New features in the 163 classrooms that have been upgraded are both broad and user-friendly. For example, lecture capture technology allows faculty to record what happens in their classrooms and make it available digitally to students for review at a later time. Wireless presentation tools, such as Apple TV, give students the ability to show content from their mobile devices on displays within the classroom. New document cameras display object images on screen, allowing students to view events such as dissections in a real-world laboratory instead of on the pages of a textbook.

Touch screen panels at classroom podiums provide a centralized interface for all of the technological controls in the classroom. Confidence monitors provide an extra display monitor in the rear of the classroom, so faculty members are not tethered to a podium and can look forward while presenting material to students. In addition, high-definition projectors are now equipped with “instant on” technology, virtually eliminating time spent waiting for a computer to load.

“Fifteen years ago, overhead projectors and VCRs were the extent of technology available to many in the teaching profession,” said Rev. Patrick Flanagan, C.M., Ph.D., Associate Professor, Theology and Religious Studies, who teaches a variety of courses in moral theology and business ethics and serves as a member of the Board of Governors. “But through recent, keen strategic planning, scheduled rollouts, regular upgrades, professional training, and classroom support, there has been a total transformation of our learning environments at St. John’s. There are now so many information technology resources available to assist professors in making our classrooms dynamic learning spaces to ensure our students’ academic success.”

Six of the newly upgraded spaces are Active Learning Classrooms—classrooms with a flexible seating configuration to promote teaching in discussion-based form, versus standard lecture-style discussion. St. John’s is also examining digital “beacons,” which will push relevant content to a student’s mobile device when they enter a space. 

Yougnand “Yugi” Paul ’17TCB, an Accounting major, will complete his master’s degree in 2018. Yugi makes use of all of the renovated spaces at The Peter J. Tobin College of Business and stresses that his classrooms are helping him learn at an accelerated pace. “My professors do a great job of showing their professions through the lens of education, and now the technology helps them reach students at the advanced speed we know well.”

The sweeping technology advances at the University have made innovative course offerings by faculty possible. Three-dimensional printing courses are now offered in media graphic design where students design custom logos for internships with corporations ranging from advertising companies to computer design firms. There are also additional courses in art, jewelry and toy design, stamp making, marketing, and photography—all using this new printing technology.

Through the use of Virtual Reality (VR), a pilot course in the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences is being created where students will examine and tour through the human body virtually. In addition, the Art and Design department is leveraging VR technology to teach digital sculpting.

“A technology I really enjoy in my classes is Poll Everywhere,” said Elizabeth Gallo, a Counselor Education major graduating in 2018. “It allows students to text in their answers to multiple choice questions, making for an interactive lesson. I experienced Poll Everywhere in my Internship I class when a classmate delivered a presentation. It was so exciting to see all of my classmates’ live responses.” 

“Students come to St. John’s and expect the best possible integrated technology experience,” said Fr. Flanagan. “And that is what we deliver.”