Return to Work Stage 2: Classroom Technology update

Aug. 24, 2020

Greetings Faculty

Law IT is expecting to put the finishing touches on classroom technology upgrades over the next 2-3 days. The addition of technology often has the unintended consequence of adding complexity. In order to avoid this tradeoff, our classroom technology upgrade design philosophy for this semester was to upgrade the classroom tech in a way that would require little to no learning curve for faculty. With all of the new modalities and stressors this semester, everyone has enough one their plate. We invested in solutions that improve upon the existing audio-visual equipment in the room so that the in-class teaching experience should feel familiar. The goal is for faculty to focus on their teaching, not the technology. Professors will login to the classroom computer, load lecture files, turn on the projector/TV, and login to D2L to launch your Zoom meeting.

Best classroom practices

  • You can login to the classroom computer using your NetID credentials. For the least amount of potential disruption, it is recommended to login using the .\lawclass account on the classroom computer to conduct your Zoom meeting. The username/password are available on the classroom keyboard.
  • The classroom tech improvements will not readily support teaching from your laptop.
  • Zoom will be pre-installed in both Chrome and Firefox in the .\lawclass account and the classroom webcam and mics will automatically feed into the Zoom meeting with no further intervention required.
  • Either bring your lecture files (PowerPoint, PDF, etc.) with you on a thumb drive or upload to Box (https://arizona.box.com) or OneDrive (https://onedrive.com) and then download to the classroom computer when you arrive.
  • Please consider asking your in-person students to join the Zoom meeting on their device with the camera on, mic and speakers off. This will ensure an equitable visual Zoom experience for all participants and it will help with community building between live and remote students.
  • Arrive in your classroom 10 minutes before your lecture begins so you have time to work through the classroom tech.

Classroom Changes
The audio in the classrooms will rely on omnidirectional boundary mics. All of our classrooms already had this type of mic at the teaching stations. That solution was improved upon to better capture the interactive nature of Zoom-based classes. Dependent of the room size, Law IT is adding anywhere from 1-3 omnidirectional ceiling mics to our classrooms to help pick up in-room sound for remote students. We have also added sound mixers so that we can have finer control of mic input levels. Law IT staff has tested this solution and it should do an excellent job of capturing the live in-class interactions. This solution also has the benefit of being touch-free.

Amplification: most of our classrooms are small enough that amplification is not necessary. We have successfully tested speaking in our classrooms with masks and did not identify any classrooms that need additional amplification. Room 164 is the exception. A touch free podium mic will be left on the teaching station in that room for room amplification.

Flat screen TVs on mobile mounts are available as second classroom monitors. The college has 4 of these units that are ready to be deployed.

Keep in mind that other classrooms could be available during your class time if your classroom is not working out for any reason.

Practice!
If you have any uncertainty about using classroom tech, please arrange a time to visit your classroom to run a short classroom tech practice before your first live class. The college currently has a very few employees in the building during the day and all classrooms are in a state where the classroom tech can be tested in a low stakes and socially distant environment. If you need a hand, Law IT has limited in-person staffing but we will be around doing install work all week. I can be available to meet you over the weekend if that works better. Law IT will be in a much better position to support your in-person classroom tech training needs before in-person classes start next week.

What we have now in the classrooms is a starting point. Many of our improvements are based on guesswork and we are always looking to improve the classroom experience for you and your students. I would be surprised if we got every detail right and we are planning to adapt on the fly as best we can. This is uncharted territory for all of us and we would appreciate hearing your feedback once you start using the classrooms.

Thanks,

Michael