College Planning & Management

OCT 2012

College Planning & Management is the information resource for professionals serving the college and university market. Covering facilities, security, technology and business.

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KEEPING CONTROL: INTEGRATING TECHNOLOGY IN THE CLASSROOM demo." In June 2011, he signed a contract for the comprehensive and fl exible, pure- software solution for integrated control and management of his AV systems. For Demers, the benefi ts were immedi- ate, including no additional hardware costs, upgradable software that keeps up with his evolving AV needs, control over the confi guration and customization parameters, management of AV systems can be done from anywhere, and it's scal- able to grow with the college. "Because it's menu based and on the network," says Justin LeTellier, manager of New Media Services, "technicians can access the system remotely to troubleshoot and set up the classrooms; we don't have to know the coding." For BPC instructors, the system makes teaching a breeze. After logging into the instructor PC, they are presented with a dashboard that allows them to control the various devices. The interface is broken into three sections: volume, display, and sources. The volume offers a slider to control the volume level in 10-percent increments. The display section allows the projector to be turned on or off. The sources section details the options, which vary depending on what's available in the classroom that can be shown on the projec- tor. If additional controls are available for the selected source, they appear in this sec- tion. For example, if the document camera is available and chosen, the controls appear to alter the zoom, focus, and lights. After a year of use, BPC administrators surveyed professors who had taught in Utelogy-enabled classrooms. One hundred percent said the system was easy to use, 89 percent said it was much easier to use the enabled classroom than a non-Utelogy classroom, and 77 percent said it allowed them more time to teach. "The most com- mon response," says LeTellier, "was that it was easy to use." Advice From the Experts "Standardization is almost impossible to achieve with fast- changing technology," says Nick Des- londe, CTS, president of Aavid Presenta- tion Systems, with offi ces in Florida and Louisiana, "so the classroom itself has to be prepared to accept all the different devices." If you have that understanding and are ready to integrate your classroom devices to accommodate everyone who doesn't know — but uses — technology, then the experts have some advice. 1. Design: If you're able to start at the beginning, then start with design. "Our fi rst question is, 'Does the institution have instructional technology standards?'" says McMackin. "We want a good understanding of how social interaction works in the teaching environment and what is being taught." For example, are chalkboards and whiteboards used in conjunction with electronic images and audio enhancement? Is the room required to support distance learning? Are special teaching tools required, as for a culinary program or a biotech lab? "Then we look at appropriate room design and apply the appropriate technologies," he says. 2. Budget: If you want to integrate your classroom technology, says Des- londe, it's best if you know your budget and design an interface solution around that. McMackin agrees, stressing that it's important to have an adequate budget for appropriate technology. He sees two common pitfalls: budgets based on anti- quated technology and projects that do not include equipment in the construction budget. Striving for open architecture in the design allows for the anticipation that 70 COLLEGE PLANNING & MANAGEMENT / OCTOBER 2012 audio-video systems will change though the building's life; this is one way to stretch the budget. 3. Support: Talk with other clients who are using the product you're interested in, asking if they fi nd the tech support depart- ment responsive to their needs. "We have found Utelogy tech support willing to help when we have a question," says Demers, "and they're receptive when we desire to add functionality." 4. Training: Having integrated controls doesn't mean an educator is ready to em- brace the use of technology in the class- room. Here's where training comes in. "If integrators take the time to train the users, then they will learn to love the technol- ogy as opposed to hating it, and they will choose to use it," says Deslonde. When all is said and done, integrating classroom technology should make life easier for everyone and, most notably, it should improve educators' classroom time. "If our educators know an interface is there, we haven't done our jobs well," says Deslonde. It's working so well for BPC administra- tors that they're expanding their program, having added more classrooms this past summer. "Setup is easy," says LeTellier. "It's just a matter of copying and pasting, so we can get a classroom up and running quickly. Plus, there are powerful report- ing capabilities built into the system, such as device usage and lamp hours left on projectors." Further, the team has started to deploy the system at one of their two satellite campuses. Demers notes the benefi t: "It enables us from a central location to moni- tor equipment without ever having to drive there, thus saving both time and money." Problem solved. CPM WWW.PLANNING4EDUCATION.COM

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