French, Teaching

French Department Modernizes Learning Language Lab

November 19, 2015

SFU’s French Department recently completed state-of-the-art renovations on their Wi-Fi Active Learning Language Lab in West Mall Centre. The lab features several technological innovations used for teaching including: whiteboard digitization capability, a brand-new laser projector, a multi-region DVD player, and contemporary pod-like workstations complete with shared monitors. 

Plans to update the lab were in the works since the Department’s external review in 2014. Department Manager, Valerie Ceppi, says the renovations happened in record-time over the Summer 2015 semester, and the Department had training sessions for instructors in September and October. Rather than a traditional lab with individual cubicles and computers, the lab facilitates the dynamics of group teaching. A large boardroom-style table sits in the middle of the room, and the chairs, similar to those in the Faculty of Education’s interactive learning space, are mobile and modern, with wheels to aid in moving around the room.

Along the perimeter of the lab are 4 pod-like workstations. The pod's chairs feature storage-space underneath the seat, keeping backpacks and students’ belongings neatly stowed. Each pod is outfitted with 47-inch commercial display monitors, video connectors and electrical outlets for up to 6 laptops. Another great feature of the pod-like stations is that the instructor can control what the monitors display allowing the instructor to demonstrate activities from the instructor’s computer or from any other computer linked into the room. 

The whiteboard technology is one of the unique features of the new lab, giving students and instructors the opportunity to digitize the notes written on the board with the use of an Equil® Smartmarker. With this innovation, all notes taken on the board with the Smartmarker are captured, edited, and shared on Android, iOS, Mac and Windows devices. “Instead of taking a photo with their smartphone,” says Ceppi, “students can download any material written on the whiteboard with the free app Equil Note”.

So far, teachers and students using the lab have been impressed. Not only has the renovation (including LED lighting) brightened up the room overall, but the new equipment facilitates collaboration and gives instructors many options for incorporating technological and pedagogical innovations in the classroom. 

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