Some colleges and universities request or require that faculty and even students use certain laptop brands, but for the most part, campuses are the land of bring your own device (BYOD). And it’s not just laptops, either. Increasingly students prefer to use their tablet or smartphone to make presentations, which means campus AV and IT staffs have to figure out how to support those devices.
“We stock many adapters for them to connect,” said Tom Beggs, classroom support coordinator at the University of Georgia’s Center for Teaching and Learning. “We are researching for a universal wireless solution for BYOD. The biggest challenge is always funding.”
If faculty used only school-provided or certified laptops and devices, one option would be to load them with connection-manager software to facilitate connections with the Wi-Fi network or AV devices. But that’s rarely an option.
“We embed instructions in the control system interface,” Beggs says. “When an instructor chooses ‘laptop,” there are simple instructions on connections.”
Apple TV and AirPlay are two other examples of BYOD, ones that also show how faculty and student experiences at home set expectations about what they should be able to do in the classroom.
“I don’t get frustrated by that,” said Scott Tiner, Bates College assistant director for digital media, classroom technologies and event support. “They’re right. If they can do this at home so easy, why shouldn’t they be able to come here and do it?”
Another example is Skype. In a perfect world, every guest speaker or faculty job candidate would have a Polycom, Cisco or other pro videoconferencing endpoint, but they seldom do. Hence the need to support videoconferences where some users have PCs or Macs running Skype or Google Talk. One example is Drexel University, which recently began using Vidtel’s cloud-based MeetMe service to enable that interoperability.
“We have two Polycom HD units, and I don’t think either one has been used in the past year,” Tiner said. “We’ve done well over a hundred videoconferences. It’s about 98 percent Skype.”