News Release
University Affairs Office
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    January 13, 2004      File #
    Contact: Jean Wasp, Media Relations, (707) 664-2057


A $25,000 Donation Puts Professor in Total Control of the Classroom

With two clicks of a mouse, professor Zachary Wong can get the full attention of his students in a way he never could before - just take over their computer screens.

Thanks to the generous donation of $25,000 from Frank Howard Allen Realtors, the School of Business and Economics at Sonoma State University is installing a computer classroom control system in a computer lab that puts management of the classroom in the hands of the instructor in new ways.

VideoDidact, a hardware product of a hi-tech German firm that links PC workstations through VGA cables, allows the instructor to send his/her screen to students, receive a student's screen image, send the screen of any student to another student or students and send any screen to a projector. In addition, the instructor can lock or shut down a student's screen and take control of the student's keyboard.

No longer will Wong or other instructors who use the PC lab have to worry about who is surfing the Internet in the back of the classroom, who is stuck on a problem and afraid to ask a "stupid " question, or who has a new idea other students should see.

More importantly, Wong will be able to look into the screens of all computers without ever having to leave the front of the classroom. Wong says "computer use in classrooms today has become standard procedure in almost all business disciplines. With VideoDidact, the instructor's efficiency will be greatly improved and the students' learning curve is enhanced."

Students in marketing research, finance, and economics courses must be soundly trained in using sophisticated statistical packages. Students in personnel management courses must be proficient in using a database management system. Accounting students must master techniques in using electronic spreadsheets and management information systems courses all have heavy computer applications components.

"The system's monitoring feature identifies slower students, class leaders, and slackers to the instructor," says Dieter Beaugrand of Education and Business Systems, Inc., which created VideoDidact. The classroom system is already in place in over 10,000 European classrooms and is now making its way into the United States, he says.

By viewing their work in progress, common problem areas are identified. A particular student's screen can be projected anonymously through an LCD projector onto a display screen so that a problem can be solved in front of the entire class. Sharing the problem screen with the class by displaying it on their personal screens is another way to accomplish this, he says.

Other features include call buttons, with which students can let the instructor know they need assistance, a highlighter on the instructor's screen, and the distribution of audio and video from different sources.

Larry Bracket, CEO and President of Frank Howard Allen Realtors, says the donation was made to help the Scholl of Business and Economics upgrade its computer lab because the School "is a very important part of the University and the community."

"It needs to stay current with teaching tools that provide students with the best education to compete in the marketplace. The idea behind a product like this is to create better students in a shorter amount of time with less stress to the teacher," Brackett says. Brackett serves on the School's advisory board.

T.K. Clarke, interim dean of the School, says Frank Howard Allen Realtors has been a real partner with the School of Business and Economics. "With them, it is more than money. Active engagement with the School's advisory board and useful advice on dealing with the School's issues has been the hallmark of our relationship with them. We always appreciate the sound council we receive from Frank Howard Allen Realtors. "


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Last Modified: 01/14/2004