Final 'Smart Room' Conversions Ahead

Technology continues to evolve on campus a decade after the notebook computer program was implemented. This academic year, projection and audio amplification systems are scheduled to be installed in four remaining general-purpose classrooms—Jamrich 227, 229, 236 and 240—completing the conversion to “smart room” technology and redefining the minimum standard for equipping general purpose classrooms.

“With the computer program, the goal was for an instructor to be able to enter any general purpose classroom on campus without having to schedule A/V equipment,” said Bryant Varney (AIS-Instructional Media Services). “We’ve had portable carts available on an as-needed basis for general classroom spaces that aren’t equipped. But soon every general purpose classroom will be a smart room with stationary equipment instructors can use to project material from their laptops or share audio and video with their students. It’s important to note that this plan doesn’t pertain to departmental spaces, though we do work with departments to better equip their instructional spaces.”

The Extron projection control system, which has become the standard for any new installation, is billed as the “smartest of the smart” by Matt Smock (AIS). It features a simplified, illuminated on/off function and can be remotely regulated and monitored, which offers an added security benefit.

“The system is connected to the Internet and has its own IP address, so if the projector is tampered with—not even removed—Public Safety is immediately notified through automated e-mail and phone messages,” he said. “Or we can set it up so the projector only works during certain hours, limiting unauthorized access. Because it is connected to the network, we can also gather data on the number of hours the projector is on and the frequency of use. It helps us with maintenance, such as replacing bulbs as they near their projected lifespan.”

Instructional Media Services staff annually reviews the status of classroom equipment, prioritizes projects and proceeds with consulting support from Learning Resources Division electronic maintenance staff. In addition to new equipment in the four Jamrich classrooms, several of the older, wall-mounted docking stations in Jamrich will be replaced by free-standing podiums and the new Extron systems this year.

One change in protocol that perhaps reflects the immediacy of technology is that Instructional Media Services no longer requires 48 hours’ notice to schedule audio-visual equipment. With an online form, requests are processed as they are received, allowing for same-day service in many cases.


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Updated: August 20, 2009

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