Campus-wide fair highlights new technologies for VCU students and staff

Attendees were able to test new touch-screen technologies available to professors at the 10th annual tech fair. Photo by John Dougan.

Maya Earls
Spectrum Editor

VCU held its 10th annual tech fair on both Monroe Park and MCV campuses April 8 and 9, displaying technologies soon to be available for both students and professors.

The fair was held in the University Commons on April 8. Visitors were handed a sheet to collect stamps for one of the many giveaways offered. Vendors such as Verizon and Samsung were also present to offer their latest products to students.

Hope Adams, marketing and communications coordinator for technology services, has organized the fair for the past 10 years. Adams said the technologies emphasized at this year’s fair included the updated version of Blackboard and Google Apps.

“Last year, we focused on the email component, but Google Apps is so much more than that,” Adams said.

Adams said the fair started as an event catered to VCU faculty and staff. By offering all of the different services to professors in one place, Adams said that fair helps teaching and the everyday work life operate more easily.

“At first there were about 100 people who came … and it wasn’t on both campuses,” Adams said. “Really, interestingly enough, VCU technology services didn’t participate. It was just vendors.”

With over 1,000 people stopping through, last year marked the largest attendance of both conferences. Adams said technology has gone through many changes since the first fair. Gmail was introduced on April Fool’s Day in 2004, and Blackboard had just became a public company. Now professors are able to create their own pages with limited online experience.

“People can create their own webpages without having to go through a designer,” Adams said. “If you can create a blog, you can create a web presence.”

For students, one of the most influential technologies presented was the Blackboard update. The design will be similar to Facebook, in which all notifications will be organized next to the user’s icon. There will also be an updated video conferencing option, and a group chat service that will be more simple for users to operate.

“At the end of this semester, Blackboard will go from version 9.1 service pack 7, to service pack 14,” said Samuel Kennedy, assistant director of user services.

Kennedy said Technology Services is also planning on installing more laptop-checkout kiosks and electronic-charging stations. Overall, Adams said the fair is a place where people can witness all of the features various departments of VCU offer. In the future, Adams said the fair will continue to take place within the first few weeks of April. The event is free to attend, and lunch is offered.

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