Classrooms Get Smart

Eleven classrooms on the first and second levels of the Los Medanos College Complex were updated over the summer in hope of improving the learning environment. The classrooms sport new carpets, freshly painted walls and technology for instruction.

Some of the classrooms got upgraded to moveable desk pods.

“I was surprised when I first entered the room. The chairs looked futuristic. If I had to describe it in one word, I would say spaceship,” said student Martin Regin Magsombol. They’re look fun, but they cam be very helpful during class.

“They’re having us move around. It is more conducive to group work, so they have us turn around,” student Caitlin Patton said.

Though the students gave the updates generally positive reviews, the remodel has not been a smooth one. Instead of a regular projector, there is supposed to be an interactive machine which projects onto the whiteboard, allowing teachers to use the board as a touch-screen.

Once everything is installed properly, professors will be able to use the more advanced tools on the touch-screen. They will also have the option to directly email students the notes from the board. A smartphone, computer and tablet could be connected to the board and display what is shown on the device. However, the classrooms were not completed when students came back to school.

“The installation has not been completed as originally anticipated,” said Vice President Kevin Horan. “the vendor selected for the installation was not able to complete the work in the agreed upon timeline.”

Among the problems that delayed the process was that the whiteboards were shipped late. Horan was reluctant to go into details about other problems with the vendor.

“The vendor performing the installation had some unforeseen problems, which our IT department was able to mediate through temporary solutions,” said President Bob Kratochvil.

Currently, the college is working with the vendor to revise the timeline and is hoping it is completed in the next couple of weeks. For now, the technology is not fully working yet so professors have not been able to use the more advanced features such as connecting their devices to the whiteboard projector.

“All that my teachers have done is use PowerPoint using the regular projector,” said student Evelyn Ortega.

Professor JoAnn Hobbs had noted the room is not working but progress is occurring. “Last week, I did not have Internet access and this week I do,” she said, “I think they had to remove some of the equipment. Once everything gets returned, I think I am going to need to go through some training.”

Training and Development Coordinator, Courtney Diputado, sent out an email to faculty explaining how the technology would work and where to get trained.

“While you are waiting for the installation to be completed, stop by L-216 and try a demo unit of the Brightlink Pro collaborative,” said Diputado in the email.

Horan said the smart classrooms were funded by mainly from two sources: Redevelopment Agency Funds and the EXITO Grant. The Redevelopment Agency Funds come from Pittsburg, Antioch, Oakley and Brentwood. In total, the agency has given LMC about $4.5 million to spend on redevelopment.

“The cost per room is approximately $18,000. We updated 11 classrooms at an approximate cost of $198,000,” said Horan. “This did not include the costs to install new carpet, paint and furniture.”

The grants were used to pay for the technology and white boards. Maintenance funds helped cover the costs for things the other two grants couldn’t cover.