Taking technology on the road

Editor’s note: This is a series of columns by John Malcolm on his “50 years at Fredonia.” Retired, he is a professor emeritus at Fredonia State.

The first location for the Instructional Resources Center was at 130 Central Ave. This was a Victorian house that now houses students and is called “The Blue Lantern.” The “staff” had some pretty creative moments trying to establish a service in this space.

The full-time staff included an excellent secretary, Mrs. Charlotte Clarke, who had been the secretary in the Education Department.

Until this time what became the center was known as Audio Visual Services and was administered by the Education Department. Until the ’60s it was pretty much a one-person show. Mrs. Clarke was often the first contact with IRC and what an ambassador she was for over 30 years. Serving faculty could be likened to “herding cats.”

The staff also included a “chief engineer” Charles Blohm who had been hired even before Dr. Robert Diamond as it was realized that technology might overwhelm us. “Charley” Blohm was a good engineer but he was even better dealing with people and designing working systems. Every wire, every system, every piece of electronic equipment had to pass his inspection. David Rusch ably supported him.

Later, with the arrival of the commercial video recorders, Valere Thaden was imported from Nebraska and when the teacher observation remote truck was purchased Freeman Hockenberger was added to the list.

This truck is an interesting item. It had many lives thanks to Blohm’s insistence that it have an aluminum body. It looked something like the vans used to deliver bread. It was first equipped with television cameras that could be placed in classrooms within the teacher supervision villages and towns to tape student teachers at work. The student and his or her critic teacher could then repair to the truck; it had comfortable seating, and review the progress.

This may have been a good idea but it was expensive and cumbersome particularly given the advent of small portable systems not requiring a professional operator. The truck subsequently was loaned to the local Board of Cooperative Educational Services operation.

BOCES used it to produce various programs for distribution to schools. The college would borrow it from time to time for occasional events.

Ultimately it was retired, used occasionally for parades and as an office for various displays. Finally, with only 8,000 miles, it was taken to Albany where it could be used by the state network.

John Malcolm is a Fredonia resident.