CONTACT: TOM SNEE
300 Plaza Centre One
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0010; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: Oct. 21, 2002
(Photo: Students attend class in the Information Arcade)
Information Arcade electronic classroom celebrates 10 years of changing
decades, educators knew technology would change the way students and scholars
When the Information Arcade opened in the UI Library in 1992, it showed
just how limitless those possibilities were.
More than just a computer lab, the Information Arcade was a fully-integrated
multimedia teaching facility that included a state-of-the-art electronic classroom
with computer, audio and visual components, all of it controlled from a single
location by an instructor. The computers provided access to databases, networks,
multimedia technologies and software that students couldn't access otherwise.
In the early days, it was one of the few places on campus where students could
access the Internet and use the now-long-gone Mosaic browser to surf the World
The Information Arcade was so innovative that dozens of other universities
and colleges across the country have used it as a model for their own electronic
classrooms. The American Library Association presented it with the ALA/Meckler
Library of the Future Award in 1994 for being the first library in the country
to integrate access to electronic primary source materials with high-end multimedia
equipment in a classroom environment.
To commemorate the Arcade's 10th anniversary, the UI Libraries are planning
an open house and symposium that examines how libraries, education and technology
intersect. "Standing at the Crossroads: Technology, Libraries and the
College Classroom -- The Information Arcade Ten Years Later" starts at
1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 29 in the second floor conference room in the UI Library.
Jeff Porter, director of multimedia studies in the department of English and
recipient of 2001 President's Technology Innovation Award, will make the presentation.
A panel of faculty who use the classroom will include Brooks Landon, professor
and chair of the department of English; Connie Delaney, professor, College
of Nursing; and Tom Rocklin, professor and chair, Division of Psychological
and Quantitative Foundations
The open house will be from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and from 3 to 4:30 p.m.
"I believe the Arcade played a key role in facilitating the efforts
of educators to re-think their approaches to teaching with technology,"
said Jim Duncan, assistant director for technology services in the Hardin
Library for Health Sciences.
"The Information Arcade continues to build on its tradition as a place
to create, teach and learn about all manner of digital information,"
remarked Lisa Martincik, current head of the Information Arcade.
Paul Soderdahl, former head of the Arcade and the current coordinator of
the Information Systems Support Team for the UI Libraries, notes that the
Arcade's mission is not specific to any one technology. "The two biggest
factors that distinguish the Arcade from a computer lab are an emphasis on
public service drawn from our library heritage, and an emphasis on the use
of the technology as a tool and not an end in itself. For example, in computer
labs, staff will focus on how to use the software. In the Arcade, the focus
stays on what the person is actually trying to accomplish in the end, not
on how to use the tool. As a result, the tools can change from year to year,
but the focus remains the same."
Faculty members who teach in the Information Arcade said the facility provides
students with access to information and faculty with methods of teaching they
wouldn't have otherwise. Bob Boynton, a professor of political science, has
been teaching classes about global communication and political communication
in the Information Arcade since the day it opened. Boynton's students can
access his entire collection of audio and visual clips, which include newscasts
from CNN and the BBC and more than 600 television campaign commercials, analyzing
them and creating multi-media Web pages.
"They couldn't do anything even remotely like this if there were no
Information Arcade," Boynton said. "They can work with materials
that they wouldn't have access to and do things with them that they wouldn't
be able to do, thanks to the technology."
Besides getting hands-on experience in skills like HTML programming and
digital editing, "students learn how to analyze audio and visual communication,
which is good because that's how a good deal of communication is done today,"
But the Arcade did more than just change the way faculty teach students
-- it also changed the way people see a university library. Now a library
is more than just a place to store information and do research, it's a place
for active teaching, too.
"I don't think a lot of people felt libraries would do something like
this," said Janice Simmons-Welburn, the UI Library's director of central
public services and facilities, and a member of the committee that planned
the Information Arcade. "This was always seen as a role for IT or the
academic department, but we didn't get hung up on turf battles. We came together
to build a facility that could help our faculty educate our students and do
Although the Information Arcade is ten years old, the constant change in
technology means it has never really been completed, and never will.
"We're constantly asking faculty what they need to make the Arcade
more useful and how can we work collaboratively to make it happen," said
Simmons-Welburn. "As a result, the technology we offer will always be
changed and updated."