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Kari Williams
Benjamin M. Judge ’11 listens to a 3.091 lecture in 26-100 via live video from 10-250. The 570 students in Professor Donald R. Sadoway’s popular introductory solid state chemistry class exceed 10-250’s 450-person capacity, so some students must attend a video lecture.
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With students in 3.091 (Introduction to Solid-State Chemistry) outnumbering seats in 10-250, where the subject is traditionally taught, course administrators have decided to add live video streaming of the lectures in 26-100.

There are currently 570 students enrolled in 3.091, but 10-250 only has 450 seats, according to Christopher D. DiGuardia of the Registrar’s Office.

In prior years when course enrollment spiked, 3.091 Professor Donald R. Sadoway said that he taught a 1 p.m. lecture in addition to the usual 11 a.m. lecture. “It was very exhausting because I had to give a second lecture and make two different tests of equal difficulty that covered the same material,” he said.

Another solution would have been to move lectures for the class to the larger 26-100, which seats 566, but that room “is not a pleasant place to teach in,” said Sadoway. He said he thinks it is hard to engage the students in 26-100 because there is a “big gulf between where the professor stands and the front row,“ there is limited board space, and “audio visual facilities are way behind the time.”

Room 10-250 fills up at about 11:02 a.m., three minutes before the start of the lecture, Sadoway said. About 65 students attend the video streamed lecture in 26-100, according to Hilary R. Sheldon, the course administrator.

The room capacity problems were a surprise, said Sadoway, as the enrollment is not known until the day after freshmen register for classes. Sadoway said he heard about the problem from Daniel E. Hastings PhD ’80, dean of undergraduate education, who was concerned about “crowding in the classroom” and a possible violation of the fire code.

Sadoway said that the “quality of the video feed is good” and there have not been any complaints. Additionaly, videos of the lectures are online within one hour after the subject ends, Sheldon said.

Sadoway said that he suggested that students concerned about crowding in 3.091 should consider switching to 5.111 or 5.112 (Principles of Chemical Science), the other classes that satisfy the chemistry General Institute Requirement.

“I don’t take any pleasure in asking people to watch the lecture on video,” Sadoway said. “If I had a magic wand, I’d like to see a brand new state-of-the-art lecture hall that’s a pleasure to teach in and a pleasure to learn in.”

Students specifically interested in 3.091 could also take the subject in the spring. Enrollment in the spring term 3.091 course has been below 60 in the past two years, DiGuardia said. Sadoway teaches the subject only in the fall. “The students like Professor Sadoway very much and his enthusiasm keeps them interested,” Sheldon said.

Christian W. Therkelsen ’11, a 3.091 student who attended the video streamed lecture yesterday, said that “the normal lecture is better than this one but it’s okay.” Therkelsen said that he usually attends the 10-250 lectures.

Other classes that have large enrollments include 8.01 (Physics I) and 7.012 (Introductory Biology). In Fall 2006, the numbers of students in 8.01 and 7.012 were 581 and 404, respectively.

DiGuardia said that after 26-100 and 10-250, the three largest lecture halls at MIT (34-101, 32-123, and 54-100) all have about 300 seats.