Technology Connects Classes From All Kent State Campuses

Advancement in technology makes learning possible irrespective of the location of students and their educators, and this change is redefining the traditional classroom and connecting Kent State University’s campuses in new ways.

Technology similar to video conferencing for meetings is being used at Kent State to teach classes to multiple campuses simultaneously. Known as Zoomrooms, these classrooms are equipped with technology so that students and instructors at multiple locations can interact as if they were all in the same room.

Each Zoomroom features two 75-inch screens in the front of the classroom that show the remote locations or what the instructor wants to share from his or her computer (e.g., a document, slide presentation, video, etc.). Students can also share video and audio from their phones and/laptops.

In the back of each room, two monitors reproduce the exact content that is in the front. This allows the instructor to address the classroom in a traditional format. Instructors can also record each class and distribute the video for later viewing.

Multiple microphones are on at all times so that students and instructors can talk in a “normal” voice and still be heard at all locations.

This past semester was the first time the technology has been used on Kent State’s Regional Campuses, after nearly a year of research and setup that connected all campuses. The project was spearheaded by Clayton Gellatly, manager of information technology for the Columbiana County campuses.

“There are similar setups at other campuses, but we have the best,” he says. “We visited multiple sites and looked at several other systems when designing ours. We kept the good ideas and avoided what did not work. All Kent State Regional Campuses are connected with this technology.”

Mr. Gellatly explains that the term Zoomroom is the brand name that the company, Zoom, gave to its conferencing system. The Zoomroom technology is a key component to the Kent State system.

As with any new technology, some minor glitches turned up when the system was first used, but students and instructors worked through them and now seem much more comfortable with the various pieces of technology.

The Zoomrooms provide students with access to classes that are not taught on their campuses, giving them the option to take a class locally that they may otherwise have needed to schedule online or at another Regional Campus.

“If a class does not meet minimum enrollment, it can be canceled,” Mr. Gellatly says. “By using Zoomrooms, we can offer the class on multiple campuses, thus preventing it from being canceled. This benefits the student and the university system. The ultimate goal is to have every major available on every campus to meet the needs of every student.”

On the Columbiana County campuses this past semester, the Zoomroom was used to teach economics, psychology and medieval English.

“Any class can be taught in a Zoomroom,” Mr. Gellatly says. “The rooms are set up so that the instructors can use very little technology or as much as they want.”

POSTED: Thursday, June 14, 2018 - 11:32am
UPDATED: Friday, June 15, 2018 - 1:47pm