Using the Intelligent Classroom
First things first
If you wish to use the desktop computer or record your lectures in the
Intelligent Classroom, you will first need to obtain a computer account
and setup the appropriate database entries. Please contact
Siu Chi Chan
if you do not have the username and password needed to enter the
instructor admin page.
For any urgent inquires related to the classroom, you may page Siu Chi at
The following software is available for your use on the classroom
computer. Please contact
Siu Chi Chan
if you need another package installed for your teaching:
- Web Browers: Mozilla, Internet Explorer 6
- Network Utilities: WS_FTP, AT&T VNC
- X-Windows server: XWin-32
- Media Players: RealPlayer, Microsoft WiMP, QuickTime, Cisco IP/TV Viewer, Flash, Shockwave
- Document Viewers: Adobe Acrobat, gsview
- Office Tools: Microsoft Office
- Mathematics and Simulation: Matlab
Before the class
During the class, you can either write your notes on a blank (digital)
page, or you can annotate overtop of imported slides such as those
from a PowerPoint presentation you have prepared earlier. If you wish
to use imported slides, these instructions are important. Otherwise,
you can skip to the next section.
Preparing your lecture slides
- The Intelligent Classroom will take care of converting your
PowerPoint presentation for you when you create your lecture. However,
PowerPoint has problems dealing with slides containing only one image
(with or without text).
During the conversion, you might lose any text contained on these slides.
To avoid this problem, whenever you place a single graphic on a slide, you
should select the graphic by clicking it, then use the Draw menu,
select Order and Send to Back. Note that these steps
are not necessary for slides containing none, or more than one image.
- Make sure that you leave a reasonable border (in particular at the
right margin) on each slide, as the conversion tends to chop a little
around the edges to make them fit on the screen.
- An additional warning with our conversion process is that each slide
should have both a title area and a body area, even if left
blank. Otherwise, the converter may crash and remain unusable until
restarted by Siu
Chi. Note that you can always insert blank slides
on-the-fly in class, using the Insert button at the lower left
of the screen.
- Any animations embedded in your PowerPoint will be lost by the
converter, which simply generates a static image for each full slide.
If you wish to preserve a "sequential disclosure" of text (one line
appears at a time), you should generate individual slides for each
separate display that you want to appear.
- Any hyperlinks in the PowerPoint will not be active after the
conversion. However, you can always open a web browser to the desired
- If you want to use another application as the source of your slide
images, make sure you save each slide as Slide<#>.GIF,
starting with Slide1.GIF and without any gaps in sequence.
These slides must be in GIF 87a format, not GIF 89a, as the latter
cannot be read by the system. Once you have saved each of these images,
make sure they are copied to an ftp-accessible machine, as you will need
to specify an ftp server when you create your lecture in the next step.
Transferring your lecture to the server
- Mac users: Note that for Netscape 4.7x, you will need
to download the Apple JVM in order to run the applet properly. This
limitation has been corrected under Netscape 6.x and Mozilla.
- Open a web browser to the
ZenPad page and select your course name from the pull-down
Class menu. Enter a Title for your lecture
and use the pull-down menus to select the appropriate Month/Day/Year
of your class. Then type in your User ID and Password
in the fields provided.
- If you are using a PowerPoint file for background slides, select
the Upload PowerPoint checkbox and then press Create
Lecture. A new window will appear, in which you can select the
PowerPoint file and have the Intelligent Classroom convert it for you
- Press the Start Conversion button to initiate the
conversion process. Note for Mac users:
A problem with Java support may result in your
not seeing any feedback concerning the slide conversion progress until
all the slides have been transferred to the server -- this could take
several minutes, so be patient.
- If you are using GIF images prepared by another application for your
background slides, select the FTP slides checkbox and then press
Create Lecture. An ftp dialog will appear in which you should
fill in the information requested. You will then be able to navigate
to the directory containing your slides and upload these to the server.
- After uploading your slides, if you wish to view
the "converted results" to verify that they are acceptable, you will
have to reload the ZenPad screen, select your newly created lecture,
and click the "View Lecture" button.
- Note that if you need to update your slides before class, just repeat
the procedure above. The system will use the most recent files that
you uploaded for the specified lecture date.
In the Classroom
- Note that only instructors wearing one of the loaned wireless
microphones are able to record their audio. Please contact
if you would like to obtain one for lecture recording uses. Since the
microphones only pick up sound from a very close range, they will not
record student questions, so an important teaching tip (not only for the
purpose of recording but also to benefit those students in the back of
the room) is to repeat back any questions that you are asked before you
begin to answer. Remember to turn on your microphone
before class (with both switches set to the "on" position).
- Log on to the classroom computer with the userid and password you
were provided. A few seconds later, a web browser dialog will appear, and
bring up the
ZenPad page, prompting you to enter your eClass userid and password
to start your lecture.
MC13 users: You will also see a SoftBoard
Initializing window, indicating that the digital whiteboard is being
When you are ready, click the Begin Lecture button to
launch the ZenPad. After a short time (depending on how many slides,
if any, you previously uploaded to the classroom), a blank screen with a
pen palette will appear or, if you have uploaded background slides, you
will see the first one displayed. At this point, if you have requested
to have your lectures recorded, electronic capture of the presentation
will begin automatically.
You should see a message at the top left of your window that
indicates your lecture name, followed by the text, "Recording." If you
see some other diagnostic, such as "Recorder error" or "Recorder busy,"
(and you're expecting it to record), please contact Siu Chi by email or pager
You can now begin writing or annotating your slides. By default,
the main screen just behind the podium will display the current slide and
the second projector will display the previous slide on the second screen.
However, when you first begin your lecture, the second screen will either
display the last slide from the previous class or the first slide from
Use the thick down and up arrows to advance to the next slide or
return to the previous. Tap on the insert button to create a
new, blank slide. The grid-like button is used to bring up a miniature
view of all your slides, allowing for random access to any slide in
- Important warning: If communication with the
eClass server is interrupted by a transient network problem, you will
see error messages appear every time you try to generate an inkstroke.
If this happens, the best thing to do is simply restart the web browser,
and return to the ZenPad
page. Sign back into your class as if you were just starting your
class, then zip ahead through the slides you've already covered (or use
the slide overview button to jump directly to the last slide) and continue
from where you were interrupted. Depending on where in the network the
problem occurred, the audiovisual recording may actually continue right
through, uninterrupted; otherwise, it should then restart automatically,
generating a new video file. However, we can easily merge the two files
together, but you should notify us of the problem so that we can do so.
- digital tablet: To use the digital tablet, simply pick up the pen
and use it as a mouse. You can erase unwanted inkstrokes on the ZenPad
whiteboard by holding down the side button of the pen and dragging the
tip through the inkstroke. Note: If some inkstrokes
persistently won't erase, try minimizing and then maximizing the
ZenPad window as this to refresh the screen properly.
- projectors, screens, lights, shades and volume: The button panel or
touch screen located on the podium contains a number of buttons related
to these functions.
The projectors require a certain cooling down period.
If you turn off the projector, it will remain unresponsive during its
cool-down process. If you wish to turn the projector on again, please
wait until it has finished its cool-down.
MC13 users: Due to hardware limitations, it is possible for
the system to become confused as to the projector state, and refuse to
display the digital tablet output on the projector. If this occurs, the
best solution is, while standing on a table, to press the "computer source"
button on the projector until the correct source is selected.
- document camera: Simply turn on the power switch located on the
left hand side of the device and place your document (or other object)
on the surface. The "tele" and "wide" buttons allow you to control
the zoom while the "upper" and "base" buttons control the lighting
(use "base" for transparencies).
MC13 users: The document camera output will be displayed
automatically when the power is turned on. To revert to the previous
display (e.g. computer or VCR output)
you must turn off the document camera.
When a document (or other object)
is noticed, it will be projected automatically on the main screen.
Taking the object away will cause the projector to revert to the previous
display (e.g. computer or VCR output) after approximately five seconds.
Note that the document camera cannot detect a document unless it contains
some regions of contrast -- in other words, a solid blue piece of paper
won't work. If the camera is not recognizing your document (or object),
the lens may be zoomed in too much, in which case you might try using the
"wide" control to zoom out.
- VCR: insert a tape into the VCR and press the play button.
MC13 users: You should first turn on the projector manually
and select the "video" mode from the projector menu. While the software
can recognize an active VCR and select the appropriate configuration
automatically, it is faster to do so manually.
To switch back to
the computer display select "computer" from the projector menu.
MC304 users: The video will be displayed automatically.
- laptops: To use a laptop computer, simply connect the HD15 video
cable from the front of the podium to your computer, and activate the
external video output (consult your computer manufacturer or ICC if
you don't know how to do this).
MC13 users: You must first turn on the projector manually
and select the "computer" mode from the projector menu.
MC304 users: Press the "laptop" button on the button panel
corresponding the screen on which you wish the laptop display to be projected.
- 35 mm slides:
MC13 users: The slide projector (located at the back of
the room) must be turned on manually. A wired remote control unit is
located at the front of the podium.
- When you are finished teaching, close the ZenPad window and
log off the computer. Your lecture slides will be converted automatically
into a set of web pages accessible by students.
- window shades: Please note that the shades are frequently broken!
To raise or lower the screens or shades, press and hold the corresponding
button; the motors will stop when you release the button.
- electronic whiteboard: To use the whiteboard for the
projection of digital ink, pick up the marker, which is sitting in the
"invisible pen" slot and remove the cap. The two projector displays
will swap automatically, so that the whiteboard displays the current
slide and the main screen displays the previous slide. Return the pen
to its holder to return to using the digital tablet. Either the small
eraser (back tip of the invisible pen) or the large eraser (round disc)
can be used to erase unwanted inkstrokes.
If you pick up the marker and put it back too quickly, the projectors
might not display the correct data (e.g., they may both end up displaying
the previous slide). In this case, simply pick up the marker again,
wait a few seconds, and then return it to its holder.
Picking up the marker without being logged on to the desktop
computer will cause an annoying "beeping" alarm to sound until the pen
is returned to its holder. This is done to discourage users from
accidentally walking off with the marker at the end of class.