A technology wave is beginning to crest at the University that is going to help change the classroom experience as well as customer service. Rod Murray, who joined the University in March as executive director of academic technology, has been leading the charge on the transformation.
One of the more exciting systems to be rolled out is the Mediasite lecture capture system by Sonic Foundry, Inc. (pictured at left)
“It’s a way to capture electronically the entire experience of the lecture from video of the professor to whatever they are projecting onto the big screen for their students, whether it’s a Powerpoint, movie, or image from the document camera,” Murray explained. “What’s most exciting is that the captured material is an alternative when students miss class, an opportunity for content review, or added content for online course development.”
The AstraZeneca auditorium in the McNeil Science and Technology Center will be the first upgraded classroom. In the coming months, Griffith Halls A and C will be outfitted, followed by a portable unit in Mayes College.
“Lecture capture is not just for asynchronous learning, it can also be used for live streaming so that if you have a remote audience, you can reach them,” Murray said.
Additional tools in the bag include video conferencing and audience response by Turning Technologies, as well as increasing the use of webinar software for which the University has a corporate account with GoToMeeting/GoToWebinar.
“PCP has used audience response previously, but the company has made hardware improvements, and we look to expand its use to the other schools,” Murray said. “As far as the video conferencing package, it may be best used for executive meetings, nationally and internationally, and it will work together with lecture capture to record the event,”
The recent Faculty Academic Technology Satisfaction Survey pointed to a need for additional training opportunities on all levels. Murray sees this as a major issue which will be addressed quickly through the availability of online training resources.
Another area for improvement is customer service. Already announced service improvements include 24/7 support through the Angel portal (http://angel.usp.edu) and a toll-free number through a partnership with Embanet ULC. Another change is the implementation of a new 'auto attendant' for the University’s own helpdesk (215.596.7575). The menu structure will route calls for AV services, telephone and cable TV, desktop PC's, database systems, and other IT functions as well as the 24/7 support for Angel.
Want to know what’s coming down the pike? Murray’s blog at http://usciences-academic-tech.blogspot.com is a resource for information on the tools available, coming workshops, and new items such as a wider roll out for Google Apps for Education and e-portfolios.
“There is great overlap between faculty, staff, and student needs when it comes to academic technology. We are moving towards a greater integration of all systems to make technology work for us effectively as well as making it more accessible,” Murray said.