Technology in the aid of teaching isn’t all about the web, of course. Reed faculty in the sciences, in particular, have used computerized equipment for many years. With funding from the W.M. Keck Foundation, associate professor of physics John Essick and his colleagues recently brought introductory physics to the level of the upper-division courses by updating their technology and teaching methods. Video cameras and electronic sensors have replaced stopwatches and rulers in the Physics 100 laboratory. Students now spend their time analyzing data rather than laboriously acquiring, reducing, and plotting it.
Many of the experiments
in the psychology labs would be impossible without computerized equipment.
In the animal learning lab, professor Allen Neuringer’s students
work on new eMac computers in each of 10 chambers, studying what influences
rats or pigeons to vary their behaviors. Computers allow them to perceive
differences in reaction time and perform statistical analysis. It’s
a far cry from his own Fortran-era college years, Neuringer says, when
he hand-punched data into stacks of IBM punch cards. “I could only
get access to the computer at 3 a.m.,” he recalls. “I’d
sit there for hours.”