sealPurdue News

September 4, 2002

Collaboratory teams libraries with technology

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Undergraduate students now can tap into technology at Purdue University Libraries when creating portfolios, writing grant proposals or putting the finishing touches on an assignment.

Two Purdue offices – Purdue Libraries and Information Technology at Purdue – combined resources to create a Digital Learning Collaboratory, a center for creating multimedia content such as Web pages and digital video. The collaboratory, in Room B-853 of the John W. Hicks Undergraduate Library, is a wireless instructional area with small group work rooms and individual work stations available to all students working independently or with classes.

The open house for the Digital Learning Collaboratory is 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sept. 14 during Parents' Weekend.

"The collaboratory is a shift from the more traditional study environment to an active learning environment," says Cheryl Kern-Simirenko, associate dean of libraries and director of public services and collections. "Classes can model group collaborations mimicking the work place."

The small group rooms are equipped with computers, white board and white board capture capability, which allows students to immediately save to their laptops the intricate designs and diagrams they create.

The collaboratory's active learning environment provides work stations with scanning capability, image capture, 3-D rendering software and digital video editing and animation.

Another key technology available within the collaboratory is a computer "cluster" that will enable students to harness the combined power of 48 computers. Students will use this combined computing power to complete homework assignments that require them to create complex 3-D animations for a wide range of subjects, from civil engineering to the visual arts.

"At one of the 50 work stations, students can create an electronic portfolio or enhance a literature assignment with images of artifacts or sound files," Kern-Simirenko says. "IBM laptop computers, digital cameras and video cameras will also be available for checkout. A student preparing a grant proposal could incorporate digital video. A class could use such video for a service learning project, which sends classes into the community to solve problems."

While other universities have digital media resources, what makes the Purdue collaboratory unusual is the extensive partnership between the libraries and computing services, says John P. Campbell, associate vice president of IT Instructional Computing Services.

"The libraries have many resources, such as videotapes and microfilm," Campbell says. "Students can digitize them and incorporate them into their projects. They will actually be able to digitize microfilm right within the center and embed it in their presentation..

Students, for example, might search the libraries' extensive microfilm archives, find a headline from a 1920s edition of the New York Times, and then integrate it into a project that also includes text, graphics and video.

"This is an excellent example of how Information Technology can partner with other areas to improve educational opportunities for all of the students at the university," said Jim Bottum, vice president of Information Technology. "We are excited to be working with the libraries to make this valuable resource available to Purdue students, and all of us in IT see this as just the first in a long series of such successful collaborations with schools and departments."

Kern-Simirenko says the collaboratory meets two goals – information and technology literacy – in the university's strategic plan.

The Digital Learning Collaboratory is housed in the former Instructional Media Center. The Instructional Media Center's resources, including its audio and video collections, were integrated into the undergraduate collection.

"The Instructional Media Center simply wasn't being used by students because of its outdated equipment and with fewer students needing audio materials," says Emily Mobley, dean of libraries. "The Digital Learning Collaboratory is what electronic media centers should evolve to. Other campuses may have similar resources, but at Purdue we are not simply sharing resources, we have integrated programs – libraries and technology. We are on the cutting edge."

Writers: Amy Patterson-Neubert, (765) 494-9723,

Emil Venere, (765) 494-4709,

Sources: Emily Mobley, (765) 494-2900,

Cheryl Kern-Simirenko, (765) 494-2900,

John P. Campbell, (765) 496-3952,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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