EVL Cyber-Commons Featured in EDTECH.COM
Participants: Jason Leigh, Lance Long, EVL faculty, staff, and students
A ROOM WITH A VIEW
Ultrathin panels offer a seamless view of the coursework at the University of Illinois at Chicago
January / February 2010 EDTECH.COM - Today’s classrooms have tables, chairs and blackboards, a traditional environment that hasn’t changed much over the past century. At UIC, however, the Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) is pioneering a new classroom environment it calls “Cyber-Commons.” More specifically, it is a technology-enhanced meeting room that supports local and distance collaboration and promotes group-oriented problem solving, and is outfitted with a large tiled display wall and 20 Gigabits/second of networking.
Cyber-Commons makes advanced technology accessible to large student populations so that EVL can better understand the role of high-performance and ubiquitous computing in future classrooms. Now, UIC students taking courses in Visualization and Visual Analytics, Video Game Design, Scientific Visualization, Virtual Reality, and High-Energy Nuclear Physics meet in the Cyber-Commons room.
What truly makes the Cyber-Commons space unique is that it features a near-seamless wall of 18 ultra-thin LCD displays; it uses NEC displays in a 3x6 configuration, whose inter-tile borders are 7mm thick when tiled edge-to-edge within the framing, virtually eliminating the “window pane” effect of older tiled display walls with noticeable 35 mm borders. Another unique feature is that a single computer drives all 18 displays, replacing clusters that are more complex to maintain. Students use EVL software, SAGE, to create “cyber-mashups,” or montages, of streamed and local high-resolution digital media and information, in addition to displaying websites, PowerPoint slides, and laptop screens.
Moreso, Cyber-Commons’ uniqueness is that it uses technology intended for a different purpose. NEC designed its displays for the electronic billboard market, enabling large digital signage at major events, such as trade shows or sporting arenas. When NEC learned that scientific research and education were also potential markets, they sent several sales representatives and managers to UIC to see what EVL created, and they commissioned an article about EVL’s “room with a view” for the January / February issue of the CDW magazine, EDTECH: FOCUS ON HIGHER EDUCATION. Read the online article at www.edtechmag.com/higher/january-february-2010/a-room-with-a-view.html.
Date: February 1, 2010 - February 28, 2010