Now that Jackson State University’s new Innovate center is open, Dr. Ingrad Smith, associate dean of the College of Education and Human Development, says she can’t wait to get started on creating digital assignments for students in her UNIV 100 class.
Located on the ground floor of the H.T. Sampson Library, the center is equipped with wireless, multimedia technology including touch-screen Mondopads, podcast recording devices and collaborative workspaces to help faculty move from concept to design to implementation in one space.
Smith was among the dozens of faculty, staff, elected leaders and business representatives who toured the Innovate center on Thursday during its grand opening. The center is another facet of the university’s cyberlearning initiative, which includes iPad scholarships for freshmen and the redesign of the general education core to accommodate the technology.
“We now have a facility to allow us to engage the teachers as they connect with the students who are already familiar with the technology,” Smith said.
Innovate will serve as the new home for academic IT and distance learning. It is the location for continual faculty development and training.
JSU President Carolyn W. Meyers said the university continues to push innovation because “innovation always leads to the improvement of the quality of life and expands the boundaries of talent.”
Smith has already co-edited a digital textbook, Global Competency. She said the university’s move toward cyberlearning allows her to expand the boundaries of her class. For instance, a chapter in her book is about the black market sale of infants in other countries.
“The technology allows us to reach out to universities in those countries and have discussions with them about what’s actually occurring with the baby trade,” she said.
Innovate is part of the library’s transformation into a modern digital intellectual commons. Innovate is the first phase. The second phase, Create, is for students. Create will be a space for students to complete digital projects and assignments. Create will open in fall 2014.
Other features in Innovate include Steelcase media:scape collaboration tables, where users bring their own devices to digitally connect with colleagues. Glass partitions and whiteboard wall coverings allow faculty to literally write on the walls.
Hinds County Supervisor President Darrel McQuirter, Supervisor Tony Greer, City Councilman Charles Tillman and Mike Davis, a city representative for Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, were among those attending the center’s ribbon cutting.
Greer said he’s impressed with the university, and not just because of its innovative use of technology.
“There are opportunities for the county and JSU to work together on county issues,” Greer said. “There are opportunities for students to be involved in helping to solve problems.”
After touring the facility, Joshua Cotton, a history instructor, said Innovate is the perfect place for brainstorming new ideas on classroom management and classroom technology.
“Rather than doing basic Powerpoints, I can produce an entire movie that is interactive for our students. I can add video from speakers and different audio packets, bring it into the classroom and distribute it to the students,” Cotton said. “The students get a full immersive education experience.”
For more information about Innovate, contact Emily Bishop, director of Academic IT, at 601-979-0245, or Dr. Robert Blaine, special assistant to the provost for CyberLearning, at 601-979-0820.