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High-tech classrooms to improve training

Fort Benning instructors are benefiting from Training and Doctrine Command’s initiative to bring its schools and education centers online with state-of-the-art technology.

The Classroom Modernization Program, through the Army Training Support Center’s Enterprise Classroom Program, is providing the post with 458 digitally integrated classrooms to make training more efficient and effective. As of last week, 179 were complete, said Mike Quirion, the post’s fielding representative.

The project will use a combination of newly constructed, renovated and existing classrooms — with approximately 200 of the classrooms allocated for the Armor School.

The classrooms are packed with the latest technology, including high-powered projectors, motorized screens, laptops, wireless and wired microphones, DVD/VCR players, centralized universal remotes, a desk-mounted interactive pen display, wireless laser pointers and Smart Notebook software, which was developed for educators and training institutions. Some classrooms will also get 65-inch mounted plasma screen televisions and ceiling-mounted document cameras.

“Major colleges and universities already have this technology many installations already have this, Fort Benning is catching up,” the fielding representative said.

The interactive pen display — a pen stylus attached to the instructor’s computer monitor — is the most distinctive feature in the new classrooms, he said.

It can be used to draw symbols on the monitor that will show up on the projector or plasma screen and is similar to technology major news networks use.

Wireless laser pointers and microphones ensure instructors aren’t relegated to the desk when teaching, and the universal remote means no more hunting for the right remote to use the various pieces of equipment.

The post is also gaining four more video teletraining classrooms. Previously, the post had four — known as Classroom 21’s. The new VTT’s are located at the Jumpmaster School Sniper School, Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation and the Quality Assurance Office. The QAO and WHINSEC classrooms are complete.

Charles Beard, instructional systems analyst for the Directorate of Quality Assurance, Staff and Faculty, said the VTT classrooms support the Army Learning Concept and save units thousands of dollars by providing training via video technology. The new VTT’s also support new gaming software such as VBS2 and Follow Me.

All of the classrooms are expected to be complete by fiscal year 2012.