University of Nevada, Las Vegas: In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, university provost Dr. Chris Heavy requested a “big, bold plan” that would help both faculty and students navigate a challenging learning environment, while providing lasting value to the university at large. The main goal was to provide a new solution in our classrooms while keeping the existing standards in place. Essentially, we added another flavor of classrooms to our classroom ecosystem.
The hybrid classroom design “RebelFlex” provides the equipment needed for both synchronous and asynchronous learning, which allows instructors to leverage enhanced technology in the classroom to teach a face-to-face class, and to students who are joining remotely simultaneously. Instructors can engage both sets of students in real time using Webex or similar technology, as well as capturing the content for remote viewing. Instructors can engage both audiences in a typical lecture scenario or by using active learning techniques, which may include class discussions, live polling, or group work.
Yes, there were many challenges. First, we had just a few weeks to come up with a solid design and get the equipment ordered. As part of the design, we needed to select the rooms, provide a site survey, and finalize the equipment needed for the particular rooms selected. As every building is of different age and design, we had many architectural restrictions to consider in product selection. Once the design was approved and equipment was ordered, we then had to schedule the installation around classes that were to be held on campus. All of this was with the ongoing supply and shipping shortages.
To prepare for the rollout, UNLV converted 73 classrooms into RebelFlex equipped spaces. It was what I like to call the Swiss army knife of classrooms, because while it is a typical classroom, we added lecture capture and web conferencing into the rooms. Now the room has synchronous and asynchronous capabilities; recording capabilities; and live, “in-the-room” capabilities. The room has everything.
Students are enrolled into two groups for a RebelFlex class: one group meets in the classroom for each scheduled session, while the other group joins remotely at the same time. Everyone interacts with the instructor and their classmates in real time using Webex or similar technology. The instructor can explore new teaching techniques while teaching both sets of students simultaneously. The students can enroll in the section that fits their learning style and engage in active learning together, in person or remotely.
THE AV/IT TEAM
The project was split into the “What” group, which was responsible for campus needs and ease the transition to a flexible model or provide options; and the “How” group, which was responsible for the design, implementation, and support after install.
The Classroom Technology Services and E-Learning Technology departments collaborated on the design, use, and support models of this project. It truly was a team effort. Key players included: Frank Alaimo, senior AV systems specialist and acting manager of CTS; Michael Theil, senior AV/IT control systems specialist; Joseph Chrobak, AV/IT systems specialist; Matthew Broughton, IT technician 6; Rohan Palmer, IT professional 2; Andy Borts, instructional technology support specialist, OIT e-learning technology; CCS Presentation Systems, Las Vegas
COMPLETED: Installation in 36 rooms was completed May 2021, and an additional 37 rooms were completed January 2022.
- An audio DSP for multiple Sennheiser microphones (SpeechLine Digital [lapel] and TeamConnect Ceiling 2)
- Vaddio PTZ camera
- Inogeni Share 2
- Crestron 8x8 AV switcher, processor, and 10-inch touch panel
- Panopto lecture capture