The new UQ ACTS teaching space
The new UQ ACTS teaching space
18 March 2009

UQ students are stepping into the future with a new high-tech lecture theatre, equipped with individual touch screens, connections for iPods and wireless recognition for lecturers.

The Advanced Concept Teaching Space (UQ ACTS), within the $54 million General Purpose North 4 building, has opened for classes and combines research, interactive technology and innovative teaching under one roof.

Set across three levels, the space accommodates 100 students and maximises classroom communication through high-resolution touch screens for instant feedback, as well as links to students’ own portable devices such as iPods, mobile phones and laptops to allow students to share work and actively participate in lectures.

Lecturers will no longer have to login to the room’s computer control systems and input their preferences, with wireless identification tags allowing the system to instantly recognise them as they step to the podium and automatically set up the room to reflect their needs.

Teachers can use projection screens, interactive whiteboards, tablets and front-of-stage preview monitors as well as innovative lighting systems to direct students’ attention – all centrally commanded through an intuitive control system.

From the podium, a single touch will be enough to launch an instant poll on the student touch screens or to launch translation software that can render a PowerPoint file in six different languages.

UQ Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Professor Deborah Terry congratulated staff involved in the planning and design of UQ ACTS, saying their ideas had positioned the University at the forefront of teaching and learning infrastructure.

“The University of Queensland is always looking at new ways to open communication channels during teaching sessions and with UQ ACTS, the opportunities are endless,” Professor Terry said.

“UQ ACTS helps to enhance one-to-many style of teaching as well as student-to-student discussion.

“UQ ACTS will allow state-of-the-art technology to be tested and therefore implemented into mainstream UQ teaching spaces at a faster pace.”

UQ Teaching Technology Support Manager Derek Powell said academics had identified a need for greater student participation and group discussion.

“The touch screens provide students with the opportunity to share and discuss material with their peers in small groups,” he said.

“The screens allow students to write, draw graphs or diagrams or annotate over existing material, providing a wider scope in response to questions.

“A primary goal of the experimental systems in UQ ACTS is to allow students to use whatever technology they prefer in their learning – from iPods to PDAs, mobile phones to laptops – with an important part of the project to research and test a variety of ways in which students can use these portable devices to participate in class activities.”

UQ ACTS was funded by the Australian Commonwealth Government’s Learning and Teaching Performance Fund.

Media: Derek Powell (07 3365 1027, or Eliza Plant at UQ Communications (07 3365 2619)