Ed Scott, a second-year Executive MBA student is finishing his degree "remote." After completing the first year of his EMBA, Ed was promoted to treasurer at the Solar Turbines Division Headquarters of Caterpillar, Inc., located in San Diego, California. Obviously he couldn't fly back to Urbana every weekend to attend classes. He also didn't want to quit the program. However, thanks to a generous gift from Dick Cogdal, the college now has a state-of-the-art multimedia classroom. Instead of following the class by telephone, as he did for the first few weeks of the semester, Ed can teleconference with his instructors and classmates. He is able to see and hear everything so he can participate just as if he were sitting in the classroom. Ed found the telephone link adequate, but a bit inhibiting. By contrast, he is comfortable with the video link, a format he became accustomed to at Caterpillar. Because of the time difference between Illinois and California, on class days (Fridays and Saturdays) Ed gets up at 5:15 am and is on the phone and in class by 6:30. This is not as bad as it might sound, according to Ed. Last year, while commuting from Peoria, he had to get up at 5:15 on class days in order to catch the bus for Champaign-Urbana and he didn't get home before 6:30 in the evening. Now he is finished by 2:30 on Fridays and 3:30 on Saturdays. He saves three hours of commuting time per day.
Several video cameras can track and record the instructor anywhere in the room. The instructors and fellow students see Ed on television monitors, and other monitors in the back of the class-room show the instructor what is transmitted. "This," Ed asserts, "is the future of executive education."
NEW MULTIMEDIA CLASSROOM IN SERVICE A few years ago, finishing the EMBA program "remote" would have been a lot less attractive. The renovation of room 240 Commerce West into a state-of-the-art classroom is one of the most exciting technological developments that has taken place in the college. Through a master control panel, the instructor using the room can manage the computer and an assortment of video equipment, including a CD-based multimedia system. The system is also connected to the college Local Area Network and has satellite hookup capability. Room 240 is used routinely for classes in the Executive MBA and International MBA programs and as scheduled by other instructors and classes.
When making the gift to the University of Illinois, one of Cogdal's wishes was that his gift would attract additional gifts to the college. That has already happened. After attending an Office for Information Management (OIM) Brown Bag Seminar, where this equipment was demonstrated, IBM representatives were so impressed with the facility that the company donated a powerful RS/6000 computer to OIM. The computer is being used as a MOSAIC server, thus speeding the college's entry into the information highway.