Time was, a blackboard was the only tool most needed to teach in the classroom. Today, in a computer-driven age of podcasts, video teleconferences and streaming media, many teachers seek to master modern technology as well as their subject matter.

Enter Iain Grainger, campus media producer/director and manager of instructional technology at UCI’s Teaching, Learning & Technology Center. With his proper British accent, Grainger coaches faculty members, lecturers and teaching assistants on everything from Adobe Photoshop to DVD Squeeze software.

“I help them find innovative ways to introduce technology into teaching,” he says.

TLTC, in the Division of Undergraduate Education, offers a variety of services to help teachers teach – including workshops, video and in-person consultations, and an online Teaching Resources Guide. The center, formerly the Instructional Resource Center and Instructional Technology Center, will hold an open house 3-5 p.m. Wednesday, April 25, to celebrate its new name and location in the Anteater Instruction and Research Building. (R.S.V.P. to Barbara Valencia at bvalenci@uci.edu or 824-1150.)

Guests can tour the center’s new experimental classroom, which soon will be outfitted with latest high-tech toys.

“It’s like our sandbox,” Grainger says. Teachers will be able to video themselves on high-definition cameras, then create podcasts of lectures students can download into their iPods. Tiny cameras set up at each desk module will allow the entire class to engage in one-on-one video teleconferencing. Multiple large screens will broadcast incoming and outgoing video feed. A touch-screen podium will enable teachers to control lights, cameras and other wizardry.

Demand for the center’s services has increased as more teachers “push the envelope” and discover new uses for technology. In TLTC’s video teleconferencing center, which allows two-way audio and video communications anywhere in the world, students from the Claire Trevor School of the Arts have danced live to an orchestra at New York University.

“Many projects are cutting-edge,” Grainger says. “We’ve had students here join in a video teleconference with a class in Japan.”

The center has even connected people out in space. NASA recently enlisted its video teleconferencing capabilities so that Michael Lopez-Alegria, one of the astronauts aboard the International Space Station, could catch up with friends from Orange County.

Bringing technology to the classroom is only part of Grainger’s job. He and the TLTC staff capture important campus events like commencement or the 2004 visit of the Dalai Lama through Web casts, media streams and other tech tools.

“The difficult part is staying ahead of the technology,” says Grainger, who came to UCI seven years ago after working in video production for broadcast and blue chip companies in his native England. “But it’s rewarding work because things are really changing on campus with all the technology, and our center is a part of it.”