The McAllister Technology Classroom

In the fall of 1991 the Education Technology Services group of the Center for Academic Computing and the Department of Mathematics embarked on a joint project to convert room 115 McAllister Building, a classroom with seating for 40 students, into a technology classroom. In June 1992 the resulting McAllister Technology Classroom was inaugurated. The principal additions to the classroom were a color X-terminal which the instructor can access during class presentations and a ceiling mounted projection system so that the entire class can view the results. The X-terminal, a Viewstation FX 16C+ from Human Designed Systems, is permanently mounted in a specially constructed lectern which allows the instructor to use the keyboard and mouse comfortably from a standing position and also secures the terminal when not in use. The Viewstation supports 8 bit color and resolutions of up to 1280x1024 pixels, and is equipped with 24 MB of memory. It is directly connected to MathNet, the Math Department's network, and through there to the Penn State data backbone and the Internet. The ceiling mounted projector is an Esprit 4000G, which projects onto a Draper Premier retractable 8 foot diagonal tension-mounted screen. The lectern is positioned at the side of the lecture area, configured so that the one can access the light dimmers, screen retraction switch, projector standby switch, and the keyboard from one position.

The McAllister Technology Classroom, was one of the earliest Technology Classrooms at Penn State, and the first to be based on X-windows, and thereby offering easy access to client-server networked computing. Instructors using the facility, both from the Math Department and other departments, typically drive the X-terminal from the workstation on their office desk. A lot of different software has been used to make presentations, for example, Mathematica, Maple, Matlab, AVS, gap, dstool, xfig, IslandPresents, xdvi, and ghostview. The usage of the classroom has been high since it was first opened. By the fall semester 1994, 18 instructors had used it to teach 30 sections of 16 different mathematics courses.

A sample of graphical calculus demonstrations, which I designed for use in the classroom, can be viewed via the World Wide Web.


Last modified August 20, 1996 by Douglas N. Arnold,