The ADP Electronic Classroom, at the Rutgers Graduate School of Management, was
designed and built in 1988, with a grant from the ADP Corporation.
(Background information)

The original configuration of the ADP Electronic Classroom at the Rutgers Business School had numerous groundbreaking features. Its 7 (yes, seven) integrated networks gave the instructor full control of the 31 computers in the room. He/she was able to turn students' stations on or off, at will, without leaving the podium. This is essential, in a classroom. The computer can be a deadly distraction during a lecture if it is not needed. Later, for hands-on practice, student computers could be switched on. For only a brief interlude of attentiveness, he/she could just freeze everyone's keyboard, without a full power down.

The system permitted full image-switching. The instructor's (or any student's) screen could be sent to anyone or it could be broadcast to everyone in the room. The transmission was real-time with zero delay. One of the 7 networks (the only commercial one) provided file service and Internet connectivity. The remaining six, were custom-built. They worked together to transform those independent personal computers into a unified group teaching system.

Controlling a fleet of computers by means of an armada of networks would create nightmarish logistical problems for the teacher, right? In fact, operations were astoundingly simple in this pre-Windows environment -- thanks to a touch screen controller that displayed a graphical map of the room (foreground, in photo). All the instructor had to do was point to the student stations to be controlled and a dedicated computer would do the rest.

Another innovation was the dual monitor arrangement at every station. In a classroom, a student must look at a lot of things: the teacher, the board, her notebook… And we now have a computer and, most likely, a projection screen somewhere on the wall, to present the contents of the instructor's computer screen. The more widely these competing focal points are dispersed, the tougher the demands on the student. By putting a public monitor (instead of a projection screen) right next to the student's (private) screen, we enabled students to work on their computer and see the very similar instructor's screen with little eye movement.

The desks, too, were custom-built after we experimented with the ergonomics of a prototype that featured a sunken well for the monitorsin order to provide students with unobstruted view of the instructor. The floors were constructed for amphitheatrical effect and allowed for the exceptionally simple rewiring of the networks in order to accommodate the ever changing technology.

The ingenious design and construction of the unique electronics of the Rutgers-ADP room, including the six specialized networks, the touch-screen controller, and all attendant systems programming was the work of electronics engineer Constantin Papayanopoulos. This and earlier prototypes (1984-87) of the fully integrated, multi computer classroom were conceived and implemented by Professor Lee Papayanopoulos at Columbia, IBM, and other instructional centers while he served as Director of Information Technology at the Columbia Business School. In all instances, expert technical support was provided by Raju Shah.

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