Reed Magazine February
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2003

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.

psychology experiment
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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.”

Perhaps the department that comes closest to technology for technology’s sake is, unexpectedly, studio art—where visiting assistant professor Ethan Jackson is teaching digital media to highly enthusiastic group of students. He divides his time between traditional silver-based photography and the new digital media lab, leading his classes through the intricacies of Photoshop, Illustrator, and professional-quality animation and film editing programs.

Knowing how to use these tools amounts to basic computer literacy for the would-be visual artist, Jackson says. But his students, being Reedies, aren’t interested simply in career preparation. They’re having fun with crossovers, like projecting video into sculpture. This is fine arts in the broadest sense: using technology to see the world in new ways.

“There is tremendous interest in digital media at Reed,” says Jackson, whose classes can accommodate only a quarter of the students who would like to sign up for them. “It’s a good addition to the curriculum, because it weds scientific and analytical work in a home in the art department. We’re giving students basic tools as well as the potential for intellectual exploration and new avenues for creative production.”

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Reed Magazine February
Go to Page 1 go to page two go to page three go to page 4 Page 5, you are here go to page 6 go to page 7 Link to Reed Mag  Home
2003