Classroom Technology Committee efforts lead to Significant Improvements in the Instructional Experience
In-person instruction will change dramatically this Fall with the requirements in place to ensure physical distancing. To accommodate the needs defined by these requirements, a Classroom Technology Committee was formed to make recommendations on technology solutions designed to support a quality instructional experience at a distance. The committee was made up of faculty from a variety of disciplines, students, staff from Information Technology, the Office of Continuing and Distance Education, the Center for Teaching and Learning, and regional campuses. Efforts focused on two key areas: standard classrooms and discipline specific needs.
To ensure a robust classroom experience at a distance, a number of key components were discussed. The solution that was identified and deployed includes:
A combination web and document camera that allows instructors to easily share video of themselves, documents, or the whiteboard. Using the camera is simple; because this camera is on a gooseneck, instructors need to simply point the camera at what they want to share. In most rooms, the camera is attached to a movable stand with a long cable run allowing faculty to position the camera where it best fits their needs.
A boundary microphone that captures audio clearly at a good distance. When evaluating microphone solutions, the model that was identified was able to clearly capture audio up to 20ft away.
Computers at instructor stations will be carrying the additional responsibility of streaming video to remote participants. Due to this increased demand, it was determined to replace all computers at instructor stations over the age of 4 years.
To ensure a smooth and fluid video experience, the University increased its overall bandwidth by 40%.
A great overview video on how to use the new equipment in the rooms can be found here. Additionally, hundreds of faculty members have taken advantage of live training options provided by the IT Training program. Training courses covered how to use Blackboard Learn, Collaborate Ultra, and the new hardware installed in the classrooms. Training options will continue throughout the start of the semester; a full list of training offerings can be found at https://training.kent.edu.
College and Campus Specific Needs
To address any special technology related concerns, the committee worked with each college and campus to identify special needs. Some of these solutions include:
Augmenting the cadaver and anatomy labs at the College of Podiatric Medicine with special video streaming hardware and augmented reality solutions.
To promote physical distancing, additional microscopes, simulation mannequins, and displays were procured and deployed to a variety of Colleges and Campuses.
To ensure bubble-sheet style testing was addressed, the University adopted a new web-based bubble-sheet platform called GradeScope, which is slated to become available late August or Early September.
Despite the fact that COVID-19 has significantly impacted how the University operates, the efforts of the Classroom Technology Committee have led to significant improvements in the technology used to help provide instructional experiences.