Upgrading classroom technology typically is a summer project for the information technology services (ITS) audiovisual experience team (AVXT), but supply chain issues did not allow that last summer. Seven members of the team are hoping to catch up on some of those projects during winter break. Summer and winter break are the best times to complete significant technology projects without disrupting the daily flow of a university classroom.
"It is an atypical winter break for us because we are trying to catch up, now that the parts we need have arrived," said Dan Brauer, a member of ITS AVXT. "Normally we are doing other things at this time."
Brauer said ITS still is dealing with delays depending on the components needed. Orders were made last April for projects to be completed during the 2022 summer, but current projections have an arrival date of midsummer 2023.
One of the biggest projects is upgrading the audiovisual technology in six small general university classrooms (Gilman 1801, 1805, 1811 and 1813, and Physics 0038 and 0039). The rooms will have touchscreen interfaces installed to control technology, replacing push-bottom panels. The team will upgrade the networking cables and install laser projectors, eliminating lamp ones. When the upgrades are complete, the rooms will match most others across the university.
"The rooms will look much more standard so when faculty move from one building to the next, these rooms will function similarly," Brauer said.
A teaching lab in the Town Engineering Building will be equipped with a camera and microphones to record lectures and provide web conferencing options. Brauer said room 0322 does not have a drop ceiling because it is where HVAC installation is taught.
"We want to make sure our work looks good because students and instructors are going to be looking up at it often," he said.
Additional projects include adding a second camera in Bessey Hall 210. The room can accommodate virtual conferences, but the lone camera is pointed toward the front of the room and does not allow a presenter to see and interact with students.
Confidence monitors -- a screen mounted in a room that lets presenters see what slide is on screen without turning their backs to the audience -- will be installed in the back of Gerdin Business Building's room 1148.
The Child Development Laboratory School in the Palmer Building also will have cameras and microphones installed in a classroom to assist research for the College of Human Sciences.
Other projects focus on improving signal strength and video quality at various sites across campus.
Contractor crews out of Marshalltown that were involved with the Gerdin expansion are in the process of doing full renovations to seven additional classrooms by the end of winter break.
"They are familiar with how everything is laid out, so they are overseeing that part," Brauer said. "We come in after completion, just to make sure everything is functional."