With the opening of the Advanced Technology & Academic Centre
in 2004, Lakehead University has become a North American leader in
offering advanced, user-friendly learning technology in the classroom.
Walter Epp knows first-hand how technology can create opportunities for
In October, the Education professor organized a videoconference to connect
his fourth-year class with a high school history and civics class in Buehl,
Germany. Then in March, he arranged for His Excellency John Ralston Saul (the
Ottawa-based author and husband of Canada's Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson)
to have a discussion, by videoconference, with the same class in Thunder Bay and
with a class of high school students in Grassy Narrows, and another in Marathon,
both in Ontario.
Brendan Hughes, one of Epp's students, was so impressed with the technology
that he wrote a letter to the student newspaper, Argus, saying, "Even if you
don't like computers, this was very cool for everyone involved."
"The entire videoconference took just over an hour," wrote Hughes. "During
that time, German students asked questions that were of interest to them, such
as the importance of socio-economic standing among Canadians, what our school
system is like, and how Canadians rank different professions. What better way to
make young people interested in a variety of subjects than by using such
"ATAC has enhanced the learning environment for all our students," says Fred
Gilbert, President of Lakehead University. "Every program, delivered on campus
and through distance education, will make use of ATAC's remarkable
The $44-million building, funded in part by Ontario's
SuperBuild Growth Fund, is the focus of Lakehead's strategy to be a leader
in technological applications to
post-secondary education. Thanks to
innovative partnerships with the private and public sector, Lakehead has
enhanced its connectivity to the world and will stay
on the leading edge of
The 9,520-square-metre facility has 15 smart classrooms and computer labs;
robotics, software engineering, and computer science research laboratories;
part-time and distance education facilities; a multimedia production studio; and
geographic information systems (GIS) labs.
Each one of ATAC's 15 smart classrooms has a teaching podium equipped with
fixed and wireless microphones and a touch-sensitive Crestron Controller screen.
This enables the Instructor to activate a variety of teaching tools at the touch
of a finger. These include: a document camera that can project images of objects
as well as text; a VCR and DVD player; a computer with Internet access, CD-ROM
and USB ports; and laptop connects for video, audio, power, and network use. Ten
of these rooms offer videoconferencing facilities.
"To date, many schools across the country boast of having smart classrooms,
but so far none are as advanced, or as user friendly, as Lakehead's
— Bob Angell, Director, Technology Services Centre
Partners in Technology
ATAC's high-tech capabilities and leading-edge equipment have been provided
by Lakehead's strategic technology partners: Anixter Canada, Bell Canada, IBM
Canada Ltd., Nortel Networks, Precision Camera Inc. (PCI), SGI, Sony of Canada
Inc., and Sun Microsystems of Canada Inc. "We sat down with all of our partners
to come up with an integrated solution to create a better teaching and learning
environment on- and off-campus," says Bob Angell, Director of Lakehead's
Technology Services Centre. "Lakehead collaborated with its partners to design a
system that could be sold globally as a total solution for delivering smart
technology to the classroom. To date, many schools across the country boast of
having smart classrooms, but so far, none are as advanced, or as user friendly,
as Lakehead's classrooms."
Extending Our Reach
ATAC is having a profound effect on the delivery of all courses at Lakehead,
as faculty add online resources to their course curricula and begin to use a
blend of technologies to facilitate learning.
Department of Part-Time & Distance Education offers five undergraduate and
graduate degree programs, four certificate programs, and one professional
development program in education. In 2003-04, there were 5,400 individual course
registrations in 130 different courses that used technology-mediated
instruction. This number will continue to increase, as will the number of
opportunities for the public to make connections of their own, thanks to
This year, Don Davidson, a consultant with the Niagara Enterprise Agency,
spoke about economic development by means of a videoconference involving more
than 36 people across Northwestern Ontario, including key business leaders. The
event was funded by FedNor and was sponsored by Lakehead University, Fast
Forward Thunder Bay, and the Northwestern Ontario Technology Centre.
In the fall, the Office for Partnerships for Advanced Skills (OPAS) 2003
Visionary Seminar, featuring Governor of the Bank of Canada David Dodge, was
broadcast to Lakehead students, faculty, board members, and individuals of the
business community via satellite.
Like many of the faculty, Ian Newhouse, Dean of the Faculty of Professional
Schools, thinks ATAC will improve teaching and learning at Lakehead. He sums it
up this way:
"A large number of faculty members have been quick to embrace technological
tools that enhance the quality of their teaching and accessibility to the
students. The Advanced Technology & Academic Centre will match the
innovation of technology with the innovation of these instructors, and together
the standard for university education will be raised.”
ATAC Future of the North
The ATAC ~ Future of the North Capital Campaign is seeking $9 million from
faculty, staff, alumni, corporations, foundations, business, industry, and
friends to complete this $44-million project.
“My daughter Beth is a Lakehead graduate,” says John Richardson, ATAC
fundraising volunteer and donor. “I support ATAC as both a donor and a volunteer
because it provides the infrastructure to create many more opportunities for
students to meet their educational needs using the latest technology and
Larry Hebert (BA’69, HBComm’78) was recently named the Local Fundraising
Volunteer Team Chair. He takes over from Russ York, who has been with the ATAC
Fundraising Team since its inception. To date, almost 80% of the $44-million
project goal has been reached.
Grand Opening celebrations for ATAC include two gatherings on May 13 to
recognize donors and supporters, and an Open House on May 29, 2004. For more
information on how you can support this campaign, contact Bonnie Moore, Director
of Development, at 807-343-8747 or firstname.lastname@example.org
— Sue Wright (BA’97), Prospect Researcher
Opening Doors to Innovative Learning
"Learning by means of stereo 3-D imagery is the way of the future. It's like
having a model right in front of you that you can pick up and manipulate. The
potential is enormous."
— Brad Wilson, Associate Professor of Geography
Imagine taking a Geography
course that includes a field trip to the Grand Canyon, Alaska Ice Fields, or
Death Valley. Soon, Lakehead students enrolled in Brad Wilson's course on Remote
Sensing will be able to do just that.
Wilson is planning to create virtual field trips using three-dimensional
modeling of landforms with the new equipment in the Advanced Technology &
Academic Centre (ATAC). "It's not that expensive," he says. "All you need to
make a stereo virtual landscape is a digital elevation model (DEM) and
registered satellite imagery or digital air photography. For example, DEMs for
all of North America are available from various governments, and imagery is
available from several sources including academic colleagues and governments, or
can be purchased."
Although stereo 3-D graphics have been used by the Faculty of Forestry and
the Forest Environment for many years, Wilson is the first professor on campus
to use the new equipment in ATAC’s SGI Virtual Reality Centre as a teaching
The SGI Virtual Reality Centre is equipped with three high-resolution DLP
projectors on a 160-degree radius cylindrical screen operated by an SGI Origin
2000/Onyx 2 super computer. With this equipment, Lakehead will soon be able to
run any number of high-resolution modeling programs including those illustrating
surgical procedures and geomorphic processes.
There are no limits to the applications of virtual reality imaging in a
teaching and learning environment, says Wilson. "Learning by means of stereo 3-D
imagery is the way of the future. It's like having a model right in front of you
that you can pick up and manipulate. The potential is enormous."
— Frances Harding
Opening Doors to Students
"It's clear that students value the blended approach of
technology-mediated education. Learners from different geographic and
professional situations are able to share their experiences and situations."
— Darlene Steven, Professor of Nursing
Cindy Walker likes the flexibility of Lakehead's Masters of Public Health
(MPH) program. A Registered Nurse who works 12-hour shifts in the Hospice Unit
at St. Joseph's Care Group in Thunder Bay, she is able to go online at her
convenience and study part-time. Like her classmate, Paulette Lacroix, in
Vancouver, Walker can listen to lectures by means of archived streaming video,
participate in online discussion groups, communicate directly with her
professors by email, and submit her assignments online.
"It's clear that students
value the blended approach of technology-mediated education," says Darlene
Steven, a Professor of Nursing and one of the Graduate Coordinators of the
program. "Learners from different geographic and professional situations are
able to share their experiences and situations."
In addition to using technology in an innovative way, the MPH program
promotes the development of a community of learners, and it instills the concept
of self-directed learning and continued professional development.
Accessing some of the great minds in public health is a feature both Walker
and Lacroix appreciate. In February, they listened to a lecture by Tim
Porter-O'Grady, a Senior Consultant in Nursing from Atlanta, Georgia, entitled
"Quantum Leadership in Nursing Practice, Education, and Administration."
In 2003, Lakehead received Honourable Mention in the Awards Program for
Excellence in Teaching with Technology, coordinated by the Council of Ontario
Universities’ Office for Partnerships for Advanced Skills (OPAS). One of the
objectives of the awards program is to promote and share best practices in the
use of teaching technologies.
— Frances Harding