Smithville Eighth Graders Visit Learning Technology Center May 1, 2013
The students enjoyed viewing 3D graphics in the Education Visualization Lab.
Last year, an eighth grade student at Smithville Junior High School, in Smithville, Texas, wrote to Learning Technology Center Director Paul Resta, asking him lots of questions about technologies that can help students learn. Dr. Resta wrote back, encouraging him to study hard so that he could become one of tomorrow’s technology leaders, and invited his class to visit the LTC.
The boy’s teacher, Arlene Davenport, kept Dr. Resta’s letter and got a field trip grant to accept his invitation this spring. In one of her messages, Davenport said, “So many of our students see college as out of reach or have simply never even considered that they could go. I want them to walk on your campus and picture themselves there.”
On April 23, Davenport brought 130 of her students to the University of Texas campus, along with the school’s principal, Andra Sparks. The Visitor’s Center gave them a tour of the campus and then the students came to the Sánchez Building and spent about an hour at the LTC.
LTC Director Paul Resta described the virtual world of Second Life.
The children saw several presentations on technologies used in the LTC. Dr. Resta video-conferenced with a colleague in Israel and described how students can gather together and collaborate in the virtual world of Second Life, no matter how far apart they are in real life. The UTcreate team discussed the ways college students use technology in their classes and how some of the newest technologies are changing the ways they study and complete projects. The students also saw demonstrations of the high-resolution tiled display and 3D graphics in the Education Visualization Lab, and of technologies that aid those with disabilities in the Assistive Instructional Technology Lab.
The students asked questions about the technologies they saw and seemed to enjoy the presentations. As the large group streamed down the escalators at the end of the visit, both Davenport and Sparks thanked the LTC staff and said how much the students had gotten out of it. Said Davenport, “I know the students were interested because they behaved!” And perhaps, they left with an image of themselves on a college campus in just a few short years.