Zoom Rooms to the Rescue!
What’s a Zoom Room? It’s an innovative delivery method for an effective college education during a pandemic via remote instruction. Zoom Rooms are providing the way forward for local students seeking to further their education at the Kent State University Geauga Campus in Burton.
Proving that "necessity is the mother of invention,” the COVID-19 pandemic is revolutionizing the norms of a college education. At Kent State Geauga, it also provides an opportunity for the university to fulfill its mission in unique ways. This Fall Semester 2020, Kent State Geauga students have a new Zoom Room to transition from face-to-face courses to instruction that is delivered over the internet through the Zoom videoconferencing application.
Thanks to a grant from the Cleveland Foundation’s Lake-Geauga Fund, “The new Zoom Room was created with the intent to expand remote synchronous teaching options,” explains Lance Williams, Director of Operations and Special Projects at Kent State Geauga. “The campus in Burton only had one Zoom Room at the time and so this opportunity allowed us to increase our ability to deliver courses synchronously.”
Students taking remote courses can be taught over their laptops in the comfort and safety of their own homes by their instructor, who lectures from one of these Zoom Rooms on campus.
Additionally, Zoom Rooms provide cost savings throughout the Kent State system. If a course is offered at a different regional campus, students enrolled at Kent State Geauga can attend class via the Zoom Room and receive instruction from the campus offering that course. The same applies to students at other campuses to receive Kent State Geauga’s Zoom courses.
The grant proposal, titled, “The Digital Nexus: Supporting KSU Students in Need,” totaled $20,000, with $10,000 allocated for the creation and maintenance of the new Zoom Room and the remaining $10,000 for financial support to students experiencing hardships during COVID-19. The grant period runs from May 4 through October 31, 2020.
Foreseeing increased demand on their existing Zoom Room last spring, administrators at Kent State Geauga requested funding for the additional Zoom Room to be completed in time for fall classes.
“The pandemic gave institutions the opportunity to adapt and offer courses and student services in unique ways,” Williams says. “Students now have more choices when it comes to their academic experience and we expect them to want these choices going forward.”
With her eye toward the future, Dean and Chief Administrative Officer Dr. Angela Spalsbury says that Kent State Geauga needs to adapt to the realities of the pandemic by providing innovative instruction that allows students to take courses anywhere. Due to their versatility, additional Zoom Rooms will be required to expand course delivery options in the future.
"Without the grant support of forward-thinking partners such as the Cleveland Foundation's Lake-Geauga Fund, we would be less able to prepare for these anticipated needs," she says. "We are deeply grateful for their commitment to local students' success during this difficult time."
Williams says that this technology gives instructors more opportunities to teach during this era of social distancing. Multi-purpose in nature, these rooms can be used for Zoom courses, remote instruction courses and/or live, face-to-face courses, as well. Instructors can:
(1) use a Zoom Room to teach and stream their synchronous course to end-users (students) at home;
(2) pre-record some supplemental learning content in the Zoom Room and upload these instructional resources to the learning management system (Blackboard Learn); or
(3) offer Kent State Geauga students with face-to-face courses delivered from another campus in the Kent State system.
Whichever way the Zoom Rooms are used, they serve to further the university’s mission:
At Kent State University, we transform lives and communities through the power of discovery, learning, and creative expression in an inclusive environment. We seek to be a community of change agents whose collective commitment to learning sparks epic thinking, meaningful voice, and invaluable outcomes to better our society.