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Introducing the Digital Communication Research and Instruction Lab


The Digital Communication Research and Instruction Lab opened officially in Fall 2010 as a collaborative effort between Paul V. Galvin Library and the Technical Communication program in the Lewis College of Human Sciences.

Developed under the leadership of Assistant Professor Karl Stolley, the lab supports library workshops as well as faculty and graduate student research and teaching about contemporary digital communication. Nineteen workstations, which boot into either Windows 7 or the Ubuntu Linux operating system, feature dual monitors for increased virtual desktop space and a side-by-side window arrangement specifically aimed to enhance collaboration and support the design and development of humanized interfaces and digital communication systems. A powerful server with more than three terabytes of storage handles user authentication into the lab machines and offers technical communication and information architecture students "roaming profiles," allowing them to access their work seamlessly from any computer in the lab—and securely, over the Internet, from any computer in the world. Two flat-screen televisions complement a projector to facilitate instruction and allow students to share work. All lab furniture can be lowered to accommodate people in wheelchairs, enhancing the lab's accessibility.

The facility also provides a physical site for Gewgaws Lab, whose director, Stolley, specializes in opensource software and humanized interfaces. In the words of Kelly Schaefer (Ph.D. student, TECH), a student in one of the inaugural classes taught in the lab, the environment provides "an amazing experience" with "some of the best technology on campus... a physical representation of how we can move the boundaries of learning and teaching forward."

In partnership with Dean of Libraries Christopher Stewart and with early assistance from Professor Kathryn Riley and Communications Associate James Maciukenas, Stolley developed and constructed the Digital Communication Research and Instruction Lab with generous funding provided by the IIT College of Science Dean's Office.