Project File: Setting new sensory standards

The Ocoee Middle School in Ocoee, Fla., is among the first in the nation to incorporate new technologies during construction to improve audiovisual learning.

A comprehensive audio enhancement system includes built-in amplification for teachers' voices in each classroom. Teachers wear a wireless microphone and transmitter, which send infrared signals to a receiver/amplifier. Students also benefit through enhanced visual apparatus. Each classroom has a ceiling-mounted LCD projector and six-foot-wide image areas for viewing, rather than typical classroom monitors.

The school also is employing a concept in technology called the Schools Interoperability Framework (SIF). Currently it is one of four SIF pilot sites in the nation. Students have ID cards that allow for keyless building entry, library checkout and cafeteria purchases. Information is automatically noted in a schoolwide student information database.

The school is a demonstration school for Florida's SMART Schools Clearinghouse, which encourages smart school construction throughout the state. The school will be used as an example of how to achieve savings through economical design and construction in order to incorporate technological advances.

The configuration of the academic building was designed to work with the school's approach to instruction, interdisciplinary curriculum and team-teaching. There are no hallways near the classroom areas; instead there are large, multipurpose common areas. Classrooms have operable walls that allow instruction in large or small group settings.

Architect for the project is Fanning/Howey Associates, Inc. (Orlando).

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