Tech Expo gives hands-on experience to students, staff

Students and faculty flooded the Special Events Center to get a preview of the latest technology at the 7th annual Technology Expo on Wednesday. It was estimated that 2,000 to 3,000 people attended the event, which was open to students for the first time due to the enormous interest last year.

The vendors present included Dell, Nextel, Adobe, Verizon Wireless and Brighthouse Networks, to name a few. One vendor, Classroom Performance System (CPS), displayed a remote control-like device that each student would have while in class. With the device, the instructor would be able to take attendance as well as have students answer questions throughout the lecture. The answers given by students would then appear anonymously on a projected screen to inform the instructor of what areas he or she may need to work on with the class.

“CPS allows the instructor to engage students in any size class without any kind of embarrassment to the student,” CPS educational consultant Luke Tevebaugh said.

There were a total of 21 vendors present, this year’s expo being was the biggest yet.

Symposium and Information Technologies (IT) merged together to create an informative expo for both USF students and faculty.

“Symposium’s mission is to encourage the use of technology and demonstrate how beneficial it can be in the classroom,” Director of Symposium Carol Harneit said.

The event consisted of two sessions: a faculty and staff session from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and a student session from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. James Morrison, a professor emeritus of educational leadership at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and founding editor of the online journal Innovate, was the keynote moderator. Morrison spoke on the topic of “Increments and Transformations: Exploring 21st Century Teaching at USF and Beyond.”

Faculty members and graduate teaching assistants gave brief presentations on new technological tools for teaching, which Morrison then commented on.

Diane Williams, director of the Center who started the expo said, “The presentations given by the faculty are presentations in which they have taken risks, tried new things, and have tried to make the classroom more effective through the use of technology. It’s not about technology for it’s own sake, it’s about technology as a support for teaching and learning.”

The USF Computer store sponsored several of the vendors who receive a reduced rate on products. The store offers departmental pricing and has a certified repair team available to assist students with any problems they may have.

“The USF computer store is the only university computer store that actually allows alumni to purchase products for a departmental reduced price,” said Mike Warden, account manager for GovConnection. “It serves the USF community quite well because it allows students, faculty and staff to buy products at lower prices versus what they would normally have to pay at Best Buy or some other store.”

Another vendor present at the expo was MoBull Messenger. The free service available to all USF students, faculty, and staff provides messages that can be received through an email, text message, pager and PDA. The only university to have the system, USF actually created the software for MoBull Messenger two-and-half years ago. Students can choose from various channels depending on their interests, including entertainment, restaurants, Greek life, campus events, weather shopping/retail.

Marketing manager, Michele Joel of Information Technologies commented on the expo and said it was an opportunity where new technologies could be revealed.

“It’s a great showcase of products and services where students can ask questions and have hands-on experience,” she said. “This annual event is a way for vendors to communicate to faculty, staff and students and promote new technologies at the same time.”