Technology Innovations Serve as Model for Other Educational Institutions

A recent visit by representatives from Indianapolis’ Warren Central High School demonstrated how the Ball State University Libraries provide a model for employing innovative technology, creating collaborative spaces, and offering a comfortable learning environment for students and faculty.

On August 18, 2011, James Aldridge, Chief Technology Officer for the Metropolitan School District of Warren Township, brought a contingency of ten people from Warren Central to Bracken Library, including the principal, associate principal, chief financial officer, media specialists, and architects.

The group toured and heard about the Helen B. and Martin D. Schwartz Digital Complex, Bracken Libraries’ electronic classroom BL-225, the Geographic Information Service Research and Map Collection, Reference Services, the Educational Resources Collection with its computer areas, and other parts of Bracken Library where the latest technologies are utilized.

Aldridge, a Ball State alumnus, learned about the Schwartz Digital Complex by viewing videos on the University Libraries’ Web site, which are posted on YouTube, When he began a project to remodel Warren Central’s Library and Media Center to introduce more technology to enhance student learning, the Schwartz Digital Complex served as an inspiration and model.

“I borrowed your idea for the Digital Newsroom that is in the Schwartz Complex, just on a slightly smaller scale,” Aldridge said, and he used the “flexible and collaborative nature” of the Complex’s Learning Pods area when designing similar space at Warren Central.

During their visit, the Warren Central group found many other ideas that they could use. Several Ball State librarians and staff were available to share experiences about classrooms, computers and software technology, digital assets, and other resources and facilities available in Bracken Library for students and faculty.

The group was especially impressed with the technology and collaborative environment of the Schwartz Digital Complex. Gregory H. Graham, Ball State’s Director of Facilities Planning, and James R. Scott, Senior Broadcast Engineer, who both had been involved in developing the Schwartz Digital Complex, met with the Warren Central group and provided valuable information on the facility’s design, equipment, and technology.

Warren Central High School has nearly 3,900 students. Its physical space consists of almost 1,000,000 square feet “under one roof.” A Vision 2005 project brought state-of-the art renovations, including forty classrooms, a new field house, a ninth grade academy, and a natatorium. The updating of the library and media center is another forward-looking project for the high school, which has been recognized as a “National School of Excellence” and an Indiana Blue Ribbon School.

The Warren Central visit is the latest in several tours of the Schwartz Digital Complex by educators, librarians, and information technology specialists from around Indiana and the Midwest. Representatives from Indiana University, University of Notre Dame, Purdue University, Ohio State University, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Muncie Public Library, and the Delaware County School System have visited Bracken Library during the past twenty-four months since the Schwartz Digital Complex opened.

For more information, please contact John B. Straw, Assistant Dean for Digital Initiatives and Special Collections. ◙

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