Information Item #1 - Submitted By The Campus Technology Committee


Faculty Association

(The Summary of the Survey on Classroom Technology & Classroom Assessment)

Date:         April 18, 2014
From:  Donna Mohr, Chair
Campus Technology Committee
To:  Gordon Rakita, President
Faculty Association 
C:  Lance Taylor, Chair

 University Technology Committee 



 During the Spring of 2013, the Campus Technology Committee cooperated with CIRT and ITS to carry out a survey of faculty perceptions of our campus information technology. This survey covered technology as it pertains to teaching, research, and service.


 After studying the results, it appeared that a substantial part of the responses had to do with classroom technology. Therefore, the CTC produced a summary of that portion of the comments.  CTC members, together with representatives from ITS, then toured a handful of representative classrooms making notes of issues.  Based on these observations, Alison Cruess, of ITS, developed an instrument to be used in assessing classrooms. During the Fall of 2013 and the Spring of 2014, CTC members personally inspected the majority of general purpose classrooms on campus. In many instances, the members also spoke to faculty who currently or recently are using those classrooms.




 In this section, we repeat (in italics) the items listed in the original summary from Spring 2013, then follow with notes on progress with respect to these issues.



 An amazing proportion of the comments relate to the whiteboards and chalkboards. There was widespread dissatisfaction with the way the projector screens cover the boards. Further, many boards (both white and chalk) were reported to be worn and difficult to erase or read. Erasers are often missing or of the wrong type.  Smartboards were mentioned as a solution by several respondents, but of course, they would still need to be placed in such a way that they were not covered by the projector screens.


 Progress.  During the Fall 2013/Spring 2014 assessments, CTC members noted rooms with degraded whiteboards or chalkboards. Mohr then met with Mike Maroney of Physical Facilities. Word orders were done to replace damaged whiteboards and chalkboards in 51/1205, 2/1017, 2/1018, 2/2007, 15/1406, 15/1303. Replacements are expected in the 2014/15 budget cycle.  Problems with erasers were addressed with Housekeeping.  

 In most classrooms, there was little that could be done to correct conflicts between boards and projection screens without considerable rewiring. This should be corrected as buildings are remodeled.

Separately, faculty in CCEC led an effort to evaluate Smartboards, and following two demonstrations the CTC endorsed a limited effort to install one or two Smartboards in selected locations.  So that faculty can become more familiar with them, one or two under-used Smartboards will be moved to classrooms in CCEC from locations in the library.

2.  There seems to be a widespread problem with document cameras that don’t work properly or are inaccessible.


 Progress.  During the classroom assessments, document cameras were a specific item to be checked. Very few non-working document cameras were found, but there were frequently problems with furniture stacked up against the drawers. This furniture had to be moved before the camera could be used. This generally was not difficult, but did take a few minutes of time before class. 


3.  The podiums need to support a wider variety of connections for laptops, including HDMI, Macs, iPads, etc.  Some type of wireless mouse or clicker would be helpful for faculty who prefer to ‘roam’.


Progress.  MACs and iPADS take such a variety of connectors that it is difficult to install them ready-and-waiting in every classroom, but adapters are available from ITS. The CTC recommended that all podiums have USB connections available from the podium top. ITS is currently trying to find budget to make that happen.  Wireless clickers and keypads have a tendency to roam away from classrooms, the CTC recommended that these be made available to faculty who wish to be responsible for them.

4.  The campus wireless network needs to be more dependable.


Additional wireless equipment was placed in the residence halls and the library/classroom buildings. Internet bandwidth was tripled. Expanded capacity of both types was immediately consumed by additional student demand, and an increase of wireless devices (both personal and facilities infrastructure).

5.  The audio system in 45/1200 and 45/2809 need to be repaired or improved.


Progress.  During Summer of 2013, ITS improved the sound system in 45/1200 so that it will produce stereo sound.  45/2809 is the piano lab, not a general purpose classroom. It was not on the classroom assessment survey. The audio system in this room is of poor quality, but a decision needs to be made on whether recording quality equipment will be installed.

6.  Logins in general are felt to be annoyingly slow. Some solution is needed when a previous instructor has left without logging out.


 Progress.  Login time was checked during the assessment of each classroom. Most times were found to be under 90 seconds, which was felt to be acceptable. An exception is 14D/2001 which is an older computer scheduled for replacement in 2014/15. In the meantime, ITS found a way to shorten the login period. 

 The problem with lockouts is difficult to reproduce, as in most cases a simple ‘switch user’ seems to work. The CTC suggests placing signage on each computer that might help.   



 Several respondents requested more computer friendly classrooms, with furniture and power plugs so that students could use their own laptops.


Progress.  This is something that takes considerable budget and should be part of a comprehensive classroom strategy.


 Lighting was often described as inflexible, particularly when watching films.


Changing the lighting also requires budget and should be part of a comprehensive strategy. However, there are some classrooms (for example, 14D/2001 and 2/2212) where the lighting problem is created simply by inadequate window shades.  Following discussion with Maroney, Mohr submitted a Capital Project Service Request to get new shades in 14D/2001. This request was approved, and as of 3/28/14 Maroney assures us that the matter is being worked on.  A second CPSR has been submitted to request shades in 2/2212.

9.  Many faculty strongly praised ITS and CIRT for their support of classroom technology. However, there were complaints that when there was a problem in a classroom, ITS could not move fast enough.


Progress: Need to check signage in every classroom so that faculty are aware the x2909 will put them in touch with ‘emergency’ line for acute AV and other technical issues that would prevent instruction from taking place.  ITS has two new technicians working with Decato Burke, so there should be a more pro-active approach to AV maintenance issues.  In addition, ITS is reviewing  escalation steps for computer hardware and software issues to better address response times during an emergency situation.







 Occasional minor issues were observed during the classroom inspection (corrupt computer image, keystoning projector images, cut I/O cables).


Progress. ITS fixed each problem as it was found. 

 11.   Several classrooms were found where the power cables to the computer podium constituted a trip hazard (for example, 3/1381).


 Progress. Where possible, ITS replaced these with conduit that would run along the baseboard. In other cases, ITS installed a heavy runner.  ITS has added this item as something that should be part of the routine inspection of every classroom. 



 Faculty who teach film classes in the Robinson ‘pod’ (14A/1312) report serious difficulties with the projection and sound quality.


 Progress.  A current ITN to address projection and sound in the main auditorium of 14A was expanded to address the pods.  An acoustical engineering firm was hired to review the problem areas.  Their study is due back in early May at which time an ITN will be issued to address the acoustics and well as digital projection and surround sound in the main Robinson Theater.  The pods will require replacement of speaker systems, projector screens and possible projector lens upgrades.  A plan is under development for addressing the pod areas.   


 Public speaking classes that use 45/2610 need a webcam and software to record presentations.


 Progress.  ITS found budget to meet this need. 


 Several classrooms were found where there were an inadequate number of whiteboards or blackboards (for example 2/2008, 9/1411).


 Progress.  Adding boards requires a Capital Project or Service Request (CPSR) with budget and an account number.  Following discussion with Maroney, a CPSR was submitted to put boards at the front of 2/2008. There are other rooms where additional boards are needed  but we need a more comprehensive list before submitting requests. 


 Furniture is wandering away from its location. This is particularly a problem for faculty with disabilities who in some cases have specially designated tables and/or chairs assigned to their classrooms.


 Progress. None. Signs attached to the furniture have not been an effective deterrent. We have no ideas. This is not a technology problem, but it is an ongoing aggravation so we take the opportunity to mention it here. 





 Overall, the status of the technology in the general purpose classrooms seems very good. Here are some observations.  


  •  Faculty reporting is important; both for issues that fall under ITS and those that fall under Physical Facilities. Faculty need to be made more aware of their ability to request improvements.
  •  ITS has a well-developed system for requesting major improvements and finding budget when they are made aware of a need.
  •  Physical Facilities has a system, but it is less well-known and more difficult to use. Improvements ranging from adding whiteboards to improving lighting are frequently not requested because faculty and department chairs are unaware that it is possible.
  •  Remodeling done in Building 2 several years ago missed opportunities for coordinated improvements in the technology.  For example, the lighting is oriented differently than the projection equipment in several rooms. Light switches and projector screen controls are frequently in inconvenient locations.
  •  Classrooms need a central advocate – someone with at least some budget who can integrate all issues related to classrooms at whatever end of the technology scale. This person should help plan all new and remodeled classrooms, as well as address issues in existing classrooms.