Technology enabling the classroom

The final presentation of the day was from Michigan State University on building, renovating & maintaining technology enabled classrooms. This has been a long term programme starting in 1995 and updating around 25 rooms a year. At this time, the University set up a group to lead the project to renovate the rooms and allocated a substantial budget to allow it to carry out the work. The group remained the same for ten years which gave continuity of planning and construction specifications but also meant that they became a significant resource for the institution to consult when considering refurbishment of rooms.

The rooms are all equipped with computers, DVD/VCR players, projectors and microphones as a minimum housed in purpose built carts or lecterns. The group are also looking at repurposing other areas either as group work areas or more social collaborative space. There are a number of factors that have to be considered when converting an existing seminar room to a group work area. The cost is significantly higher ($50,000 compared with $20,000 for a traditional set up) and the room then has a reduced capacity (typically 48 seats from 60). The capacity is the more significant issue; Michigan State has invested and continues to invest large sums on maintaining the quality of their teaching rooms. The investment is not just in terms of capital funding. Sixty per cent of the budget goes on maintenance and equipment replacement and there is a headcount of 20 FTE to support the 300 plus rooms.

Naturally some faculty want more than the standard equipment. Where this is the case the central team produce a memorandum of understanding, reviewed on an annual basis, which details where the responsibility lies for maintenance and repairs of the non-standard equipment.

Overall a simple project that is reaping benefits – almost all centrally controlled rooms now have quality equipment in situ. However this has only been achieved through a significant investment both in money and resources.

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