In the past five years, Emory College and University Technology Services (UTS). have invested more than 3.7 million dollars and enhanced more than 90 classrooms and teaching spaces in the College. Along the way, our thinking on technology-enhanced classrooms has grown and matured, and we have moved from individual specialized projects to a systematic understanding of our teaching spaces and the roles that aesthetics, acoustics, furniture, technology, and support for technology play.
All of these initiatives have been team projects with contributors from the College, UTS, Emory Purchasing, and the Facilities Management Division (FMD), along with outside contractors and vendors. For the last two years, classroom renovations have been coordinated through the Academic Infrastructure Team of Nancy Bayly (Associate Director of Capital Projects for Emory College), Barbara Brandt (Educational Analyst in Classroom Design for UTS), and Carole Meyers (Director of Academic Computing for Emory College).
1997 marked the introduction of the first "smart" classrooms, so named because they employed an intelligent control system to integrate the different presentation sources (computer, laptop, DVD, VCR, document camera), thus eliminating the tangle of remote controls that had developed as presentation sources multiplied. Our early projects arose out of particular circumstances, some originating in UTS* and some in the College. They included:
This room was specially outfitted for the newly re-inaugurated Journalism program. It featured a smart podium with AMX touch panel, Elmo document camera, VCR, Emory Cable TV, permanent computer, laptop hookup, audioconferencing, and a then state-of-the-art Barco LCD projector. Students were seated at 18 Macintosh workstations, all of which could be accessed from the podium?s master computer, allowing faculty to display one student?s work to the class.
Our second integrated smart room, this 150-seat lecture hall remains one of the most popular large classrooms on campus. In 1997, an UTS project took existing A/V functionality and simplified and enhanced it by installing a smart podium and AMX control system, adding a dedicated personal computer and document camera.
Distance Learning Room
The brainchild of REALC professor Juliette Apkarian and Alan Cattier from UTS, the distance learning room employs videoconferencing to allow Emory?s language programs to expand the teaching of less common languages like Russian, Chinese, and Japanese. A direct connection to Emory?s sister campus at Oxford was established, which allowed Oxford students to take classes not offered there without traveling the 40 minute drive to the main campus. In addition, the room could function as a typical smart classroom. This facility is located in the Technology Centers of the Woodruff Memorial Library and opened in the spring of 1997.
In the summer of 1998, a team from the College, UTS, and FMD came together to examine one of the main classroom buildings on campus, White Hall. Although a mainstay in the classroom pool, White Hall had fallen into disrepair with ripped seating and dated audio-visual equipment. After surveying the faculty, a small summer project quickly evolved from simply installing presentation technology into three rooms to a complete renovation, which extended into 1999. More than one million dollars was invested to update lighting, seating, acoustical paneling, carpet, paint, and technology. White Hall presented a unique opportunity from a presentation technology standpoint because it had been designed in the 1970s with audio-visual capabilities in mind. As a result, there was a central control space behind each classroom. We were able to use this space to keep noisy projectors out of the classrooms themselves and, more importantly, to house a digital master control system for the building. While each room contains its own smart presentation system with computer, laptop hookup, DVD, VCR, Emory Cable TV, and document camera, each room can also accept a signal from master control. This functionality allows us to supplement in-room equipment and also to broadcast presentations to more than one room. For example, when famed literary theorist Jacques Derrida came to campus, his presentation was filmed in the main auditorium and then routed to two other overflow spaces.
Like Geosciences 303, Tarbutton 120 was a large general classroom with some audio-visual equipment. We updated parts of that equipment and added a smart podium with VCR, laser disk player, document camera, and laptop hookup.
During the summer of 1999, as work continued in White Hall, some classrooms were outfitted with basic infrastructure, two other departmental computing lab spaces were renovated, and a new conference room/classroom was added to White Hall.
Glenn Church School
Portable A/V equipment and data networking were installed by UTS in the Church School classrooms used by the College.
Dental School 123
Formerly housing cubicles of the Physics Department, this room was renovated to create a seminar space and computing lab for the Psychology department to teach introductory statistics. The room holds 18 student computers along with a smart podium housing the standard components of computer, laptop hookup, DVD, VCR, Cable TV, and document camera. In an experiment, three smart boards were installed, all linked together to form one long board whose content could be recorded to computer disk. The middle board could also be projected onto, so that an instructor could, for example, project an Excel spreadsheet, annotate it, and then save the annotated version.
When the Economics department moved into the old business school, a small classroom was renovated to become the new Economics computing lab. Sixteen PC workstations are housed along with a standard smart presentation system. The lab is used for teaching and for lab space when classes are not in session.
White Hall 200
On the tail end of the classroom renovation, a totally new room was constructed out of previously under-used lobby space in White Hall to form a meeting room that is also used as a classroom. This room has a standard presentation system.
Previous to this summer, we had concentrated on lecture style rooms (White Hall, Geosciences) and computing labs (Journalism, Economics, Psychology). In 2000, the emphasis shifted to registrar-scheduled seminar rooms, which were in increased demand because of the advent of Freshmen Seminars, and also to specialized spaces for particular disciplines.
Woodruff 874, 974
Two general seminar rooms in the Woodruff Library were outfitted with acoustic, aesthetic, and technological upgrades, including a small smart podium with VCR, DVD, Emory Cable TV, and a laptop hookup. Before and after images
Woodruff 875, 975
A semester-long consultation process with teachers of languages culminated in two specially-designed rooms for language instruction. Instead of a faculty-centered smart podium, a media wall with a pullout øcommand consoleÓ was created to provide a student-oriented space for the instruction of first- and second-year languages. In addition, the media wall was outfitted with a rear screen smart board that, like typical smart boards, allowed faculty to record notes made on the board. More than that, however, the boards are touch sensitive, meaning that faculty can use their fingers as a mouse to control the computer by simply touching the board, instead of hovering over a keyboard. These rooms are scheduled by the Emory College Language Center. Before and after images
In an ongoing quest to reclaim space, we converted an underused vending area in the Rich building into a seminar room with a TV and VCR. Before and after images
Atwood 240, 261, 316, 360
Working with the Chemistry department, two lecture style rooms used for large undergraduate classes were outfitted with smart podiums. In addition, the departmental presentation room was upgraded with a smart presentation system and a portable cart was designed for a small teaching space. Before and after images of 240, 360
Performing Arts Studio
The Performing Arts Studio is a space with many uses and pressures. It functions as a classroom, an instrumental rehearsal hall, a dance performance space, and a performance studio. As such, it needed a specially designed smart podium that could be wheeled out for classes and completely removed for rehearsals and performances. Coordinating closely with the Music department, we were able to create a solution that worked for all uses and parties and to dramatically increase the quality of the presentation equipment. Before and after images
Emerson 101, 102, 103
Three seminar rooms were outfitted with smart credenzas, similar to smart podiums but shorter and positioned off to one side of the front of the room. The credenzas house a document camera, VCR, DVD player, and Emory Cable TV tuner. They have a laptop hookup.
In 2001, we revisited past initiatives in Woodruff Library and White Hall and applied our understanding of how the rooms had worked in practice to improve new renovation efforts. In particular, we were beginning to realize the advantages of standardizing equipment across all smart rooms, whether or not there was demand for a particular piece of equipment at that time.
Woodruff 774, 775
These seminar rooms received the same acoustic and aesthetic improvements as their sister rooms the year before. In addition, roomier smart cabinets were installed, more like the Emerson seminar credenzas but with room for a future permanent computer. As was by now standard, the rooms had a laptop hookup, DVD player, VCR, Emory Cable TV, and document camera.
White Hall 207
Following the renovations of 1999, White Hall's classrooms were much in demand and there was occasional confusion when a faculty member would be assigned to one of the three rooms that did not have a smart podium. At the same time, we still heard from some faculty that they found the podiums too large, separating them from their students. We decided to split the difference and install one more smart podium to finish out the larger rooms but to install the lectern off to one side where hopefully it would be less obtrusive. We also left two rooms without permanent technology.
Language Center Lab and Collaborative Classroom
When the fourth floor of the Center for Library and Information Resources (CLAIR) was finished out in 2001, it included space for the Emory College Language Center Lab and also a Collaborative Classroom. In surveys, language faculty had indicated that while a computer language lab was essential, they also were interested in non-traditional teaching spaces that were student centered. As a result, we designed a small classroom for about eighteen students with banquette seating and wireless laptops, as well as the by now standard smart podium. This room serves to complement the more traditional 30-station computer lab, which also has a smart presentation system for use in training.
A seminar room used for training graduate students was outfitted with what would become our standard "Interactive Console" for small rooms. This console featured a rear-screen, touchable SmartBoard, a VCR, DVD player, Emory Cable, document camera, computer, and laptop hookup.
By the spring of 2002, the classroom improvement initiative had been in process for five years. In terms of usage and technology, standards had emerged to form recognizable configurations:
North Decatur 112
- Lecture room with SmartPodium
- Seminar room with Smart Credenza
- Small room with Interactive Console
Most times, when we began a project, we could satisfy the desired outcome with one of these configurations.
We also realized that our touch panel design was crucial to facilitating faculty moving from space to space in the classroom pool. We had already basically standardized the look and feel of the touch panels but at this point, we took one step further and codified an "Emory College Design Standard."
The advantage of the standardized equipment and touch panels was that faculty could easily shift between spaces as assigned by the registrar. We also noticed that when standard features - like a document camera - had been omitted from earlier classrooms that faculty questioned where it was. At this point, we began revisiting older installations where possible to bring them into alignment with our typical room.
During the summer of 2002, the Academic Infrastructure Team worked on a number of installations including upgrading existing facilities, adding new facilities to the general classroom pool, and enhancing departmental facilities.
A former lab of the Math/Computer Science department was renovated to become a classroom with Smart Podium including Macintosh computer, document camera, DVD player, multistandard VCR, Emory Cable TV, and a Emory College Standard Crestron control system. In addition, because the Music department would be a frequent user, we included a turntable and a Dolby surround sound system.
The existing A/V system was modernized with a new computer, and DVD player. We replaced the older AMX control system with the Emory College Standard Crestron control system.
The existing A/V system was modernized with a new projector, Macintosh computer, DVD player, and document camera. We replaced the older AMX control system with the Emory College Standard Crestron control system.
The existing A/V system was modernized with a new DVD player. We replaced the older AMX control system with the Emory College Standard Crestron control system.
The existing A/V system was modernized with a new projector, DVD player, Macintosh computer, and Emory College Standard Crestron control system.
North Decatur Building 111, 112, 155
Formerly dedicated Math/Computer Science classrooms, these three rooms will now be part of the Registrar's general classroom pool. They are outfitted with a Smart Podium including a computer, document camera, DVD, VCR, Emory Cable TV, and the Emory College Standard Crestron control system. Before and after images
The existing A/V system was modernized with a new projector, DVD player (replacing laser disk), and computer. We replaced the older AMX control system with the Emory College Standard Crestron control system.
An Interactive Console was installed including a rear screen smartboard, Macintosh computer, document camera, multi-standard VCR, DVD player, Emory Cable TV, and the Emory College Standard Crestron control system. Before and after images
A ceiling-mounted data projector, Macintosh computer, and multistandard VCR was installed. Before and after images
REALC seminar room
An Interactive Console was installed including a rear screen smartboard, Macintosh computer, document camera, multi-standard VCR, DVD player, Emory Cable TV, and the Emory College Standard Crestron control system.
Mathematics and Science Center
The new Mathematics and Science Center features both general College classrooms and departmental facilities. The six College classrooms have either a Smart Podium or desk housing a computer, document camera, DVD player, VCR, Emory Cable TV, and the Emory College Standard Crestron control system.
Through the construction of new buildings and the renovation of existing facilities, the push for smart classrooms shows little sign of diminishing in the near future. New facilities include the Schwartz Performing Arts Center, which houses three Registrar scheduled classrooms, a room dedicated for Creative Writing, and a Theater Observatory classroom overlooking the black box theater. The Student Academic and Athletic Center on the Clairmont Campus will house four classrooms, and when Candler Library reopens in the Summer of 2003, it will house about twenty registrar and departmental rooms with smart systems. In addition, renovations to the Dental School Building will include two registrar lecture-style rooms and some departmental facilities.
Departmental seminar rooms will probably represent the next largest wave of renovation. As faculty use smart classrooms from the registrar's pool, they become familiar with their possibilities and want those same capabilities in departmental spaces for meetings and job talks, as well as classes.
In the last five years, we have learned a number of lessons that when applied help to make our initiatives successful. First and foremost is the importance of standardization, even in non-registrar spaces. Standardized equipment and touch panels ease the need for training and support and also assist with maintenance because our staff is basically familiar with the equipment.
Second, as the number of integrated systems has grown and aged, we have had to develop what we call Tier 1, 2, and 3 support structures for the different types of assistance needed. Tier 1 support involves training on the systems, attention to security, and very basic troubleshooting. The Classroom Technologies team performs Tier 1 support for registrar scheduled rooms and works with departmental staff so that they can support their own rooms at this level. Tier 2 support includes more advanced troubleshooting and preventative maintenance performed by Classroom Technologies staff. For Tier 3 support, we partner with external vendors to perform maintenance activities outside the realm of expertise of our staff. Working with our Purchasing Department, we are trying to develop an affordable service contract for "labor only" with an A/V vendor that will allow us to turn Tier 3 support needs from individual crises to manageable processes.
The biggest lesson learned of the past five years has been the importance of teamwork. When the installation of integrated, smart classrooms systems began in 1997, the projects were handled individually, usually with one person with one predominant area of expertise taking primary charge. As a result, projects fell short of their potential because we weren?'t taking advantage of the breadth of knowledge available.
Since 2001, projects have been jointly handled by the Emory College Academic Infrastructure Team, which is comprised of Nancy Bayly, Associate Director of Capital Projects for Emory College, Barbara Brandt, Educational Analyst in Classroom Design for UTS, and Carole Meyers, Director of Academic Computing for Emory College. Each team member brings her own area of expertise. Nancy is responsible for coordinating the aspects of projects that pertain to facilities: she works with departments and FMD and takes the lead on non-technological issues like lighting, acoustics, aesthetics, and network/CATV drops. Barbara Brandt has performed the primary project management for the installation of audio-visual equipment. Barb's role as head of the Classroom Technologies team has allowed her to provide crucial field experience about what was working and what wasn't. Carole Meyers provides strategic direction, including knowledge of faculty and student use of technological systems like BlackBoard and LearnLink in the classroom, and she has been a backup for Barb on project management. In addition, we all have worked closely with the registrar, FMD, UTS, purchasing, and external vendors.
The collaborative success of the Emory College Academic Infrastructure Team has created classrooms that represent in a microcosm the activities of the college: the teaching and learning that embody our mission. More than four walls with furniture, these are spaces for intellectual exploration, for moments of realization, and for the enjoyment that occurs through the sharing of knowledge. Ideally, the structures that support these rooms - whether technological or not - provide a seamless background against which these central activities can occur.