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New Seigel Learning Center at UMD Takes Distance Learning to New Heights

December 7, 2012
Contacts: 

Marty Ronning - 301-405-4899

Seigel Learning Center ClassroomEdited by Evelyn Rabil

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Engineering students and faculty now have access to cutting-edge technology and the best practices in online learning at the new Arnold E. Seigel Learning Center, inaugurated in October by the University of Maryland’s Clark School of Engineering.

The learning center adds six studio classrooms, ranging from 17 to 122 seats, to the J.M. Patterson Building. Equipped with state-of-the-art lighting, acoustics, high-definition cameras, and sophisticated lecture-capture software that can record and live-stream classrooms in session, the suite enables high quality, blended education both face-to-face and at a distance. Each spacious instructor workstation includes a computer, overhead document camera, touch-screen room controls, and an electronic tablet for drawing and annotating.


“The [dedication ceremony] attendees were impressed by the level of detail in the space,” says Marty Ronning, Assistant Director of Distance Education Technology and Services. “We strive to give the remote students as identical of an experience as the in-class students get.”

Learning Center Vision

Seigel Learning Center - Control RoomThe vision for the Arnold E. Seigel Learning Center began in the 1970s when Dr. Arnold Seigel, then a part-time engineering teacher, was convinced that distance education for engineering students could be as authentic and rich as face-to-face education. He began the Instructional Television unit (ITV), which commenced operations in the fall of 1980 as a two-channel black-and-white television system, broadcasting from a 40-foot tower atop the Centerville Hall dormitory. Over the next two decades, ITV operations expanded to include various locations around the state such as Hagerstown, Annapolis, and Baltimore. ITV has since shifted away from television toward a digital delivery mode, evolving into Distance Education Technology and Services (DETS). Today, DETS offers more than 500 students worldwide per semester the opportunity to earn advanced degrees in subjects such as Sustainable Energy Engineering and Project Management.

“The start of this service was in support of Dr. Seigel’s vision, when the Internet wasn’t being dreamt of yet,” Ronning says. “This vision is about delivering education to students wherever they are, and over the years we have evolved to do that on a global scale.”

Dedication Ceremony


The October 12, 2012 dedication ceremony, held in one of the studio classrooms in 3201 J.M. Patterson, featured remarks by Jim Zahniser, Executive Director of Engineering Information Technology, Marty Ronning, Assistant Director of DETS, faculty member John Cable, Director of Project Management Center for Excellence, and Dean Darryl Pines of the A. James Clark School of Engineering. Notable attendees included former University of Maryland President, University System of Maryland Chancellor - and one-time ITV instructor -William ‘Brit’ Kirwan and previous Clark School Deans Herb Rabin and George Dieter.