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Best in Class of 2022: University of Massachusetts Lowell

AV/IT Team
(Image credit: Future)

GOALS

University of Massachusetts Lowell (opens in new tab): Our goal was to create reliable TEAL (Technology Enhanced Active Learning) spaces on campus to promote collaboration between students in a dynamic classroom environment.

AV/IT Team

These spaces are not your typical classrooms. We strongly suggested training and curriculum modifications for the faculty who teach in these rooms.  (Image credit: University of Massachusetts Lowell)

CHALLENGES

All the spaces were new building projects, which helped to create a unique room configuration layout and premise wiring. We wanted the classrooms to be software centric and to not have an abundance of hardware and wired infrastructure for switching and distribution. The biggest hurdle was identifying the correct solution—one that relied on wireless connectivity for students; was device agnostic; and provided on-screen, intuitive controls for the instructor. Two solutions were identified and implemented. In the Olsen Sciences building, Sony Vision Exchange (opens in new tab)was the selected solution, as it provided a better solution for whiteboard sharing and snapshots. 

     In Coburn Hall, primarily social sciences and education, the WolfVision (opens in new tab) vSolution platform was installed. This allowed for easier iPad and Chromebook integrations. In both spaces, students leverage the university’s wireless infrastructure to connect to the student “pods.” Each pod is connected to a large-format interactive-touch flatscreen. The student pods are clustered around the perimeter of the room and accommodate six students each. The Instructional Technology Services team worked closely with the IT Networking team to open the appropriate ports and configure firewalls for seamless connectivity. One hurdle was to overcome the multicast restrictions of the network. Both the Instructional Technology and Networking teams were able to get creative and provide a workable solution to get these classrooms configured. This turned out to be a very good example of cross collaboration within IT.

AV/IT Team

Students have no problem connecting to the pods and sharing content because of the easy-to-use and intuitive connection process. (Image credit: University of Massachusetts Lowell)

USER BENEFITS

These spaces are not your typical classrooms. We strongly suggested training and curriculum modifications for the faculty who teach in these rooms. We offered formal training to groups of folks who were interested in teaching in the spaces. During these training sessions, we not only covered technology features of the rooms, but what type of group learning activities are ideally suited for this type of technology. These rooms were already installed for about a year before the COVID-19 pandemic put a crimp on in-class course delivery. 

     Over the past semester, we have returned to a more normal environment, and activity in these spaces is now at pre-pandemic levels. Faculty need to request being scheduled in these spaces prior to the semester with the registrar’s office. We have streamlined this process with a web request form. Once faculty have used the room for a semester, they are eager to get scheduled in the spaces again. Demand is to a point where we are planning to double the number of TEAL spaces on campus in the next couple of years. The reliability of the equipment, dynamic course delivery options, and ease of use have made these spaces a huge success. Students have no problem connecting to the pods and sharing content because of the easy-to-use and intuitive connection process.

University of Massachusetts Lowell

(Image credit: University of Massachusetts Lowell)

THE AV/IT TEAM

This integration was a true team effort, from installing technology, coordinating installation, engaging the Networking team, evaluating and testing platforms, and training end users—both students and faculty. The team included:
Robert Coppenrath, senior instructional technologist; David Corcoran, instructional technologist; Bill Suppa, manager, instructional technology services; Jon Kleiner, instructional technologist; David Hadley, senior classroom technician; Andy Alfano, principal classroom technician; Tom Robbins, classroom technician; Matt Gordon, senior instructional technologist; Michael Lucas, senior director of instructional technology

COMPLETED: January 2020

TECH SNAPSHOT

MORE BEST IN CLASS OF 2022

Best in Class of 2022: University of Southern California (opens in new tab)

Cindy Davis is the brand and content director of AV Technology. Davis enjoys exploring the ethos of experiential spaces as well as diving deep into the complex topics that shape the AV/IT industry. In 2012, the TechDecisions brand of content sites she developed for EH Publishing was named one of “10 Great Business Media Websites” by B2B Media Business magazine. For more than 20 years, Davis has developed and delivered multiplatform content for AV/IT B2B and consumer electronics B2C publications, associations, and companies. From 2000 to 2008, Davis was the publisher and editor-in-chief of Electronic House. From 2009 to present, as the principal of CustomMedia.Co, Davis developed content plans and delivered content for associations such as IEEE Standards Association and AVIXA, content marketing for Future Plc, and numerous AV/IT companies. Davis was a critical member of the AVT editorial team when the title won the “Best Media Brand” laurel in the 2018 SIIA Jesse H. Neal Awards. A lifelong New Englander, Davis makes time for coastal hikes with her husband, Gary, and their Vizsla rescue, Dixie, sailing on one of Gloucester’s great schooners, and sampling local IPAs.