Technological Changes Mark 10 Years of Delivering Distance Education

November 10th, 2005

Remember pop quizzes in school? Now professors at Iowa State University can ask students to respond to a question with a clicker system and instantly quiz students. It's similar to getting answers from the audience during the "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" show.

The new technology is called the "classroom performance system." The system is one of the newest technologies being adopted by the Brenton Center for Agricultural Instruction and Technology Transfer in the College of Agriculture.

New technologies like this offer a benchmark on how technology has changed during the past 10 years. When the center was dedicated in November 1995, faculty and staff used videotape and fiber optics to deliver distance education classes. Today, the classes are web-based and students receive taped classes on CDs.

"The technology has changed considerably over the past 10 years," said Gaylan Scofield, interim director of the Brenton Center. "We've also seen a change in the type of students we serve. We have more graduate students taking classes than we did 10 years ago."

More than 600 students are enrolled in classes delivered through the Brenton Center. Two degree programs include the Master of Agronomy and Master of Agriculture. Programs like these cater to students who have full-time jobs and need flexibility to pursue a master's degree.

"Ten years ago when the Brenton Center first opened distance education was a novel idea," Scofield said. "Today it's expected."

The $1.5 million facility was built with private funds and named in memory of W. Harold and Etta Brenton by family members who made the lead donation for the project. The Brentons were 1920 graduates of Iowa State.


Gaylan Scofield, Brenton Center for Agricultural Instruction and Technology Transfer, (515) 294-0045,
Barbara McBreen, Agriculture Communications, (515) 294-0707,