|Descriptive Title of Proposal:||Classroom Technology Modernization Program|
|Person(s) Responsible for the Idea||
|Name of Institution||University of Victoria|
|Office Address||University of Victoria
Clearihue Building C026, 3800 Finnerty Road
Victoria, British Columbia V8P5C2
|Name (Senior Administrative Office of the Institution)||Wency Lum|
|Title (Senior Administrative Office of the Institution)||Chief Administrative Officer|
|Office Address||University of Victoria
PO Box 1700 STN CSC
Victoria, British Columbia V8W 2Y2
The University of Victoria provides approximately 185 general-purpose teaching and learning spaces, including large lecture theatres. All of these spaces are equipped with audio-visual technologies that enhance teaching and learning. As technologies continue to evolve, our classrooms must be updated to meet the expectation of a modern teaching and learning environment, empower instructors to focus on teaching through ease of use, and achieve a positive learner experience through reliable performance and quick assistance in the event of issues.
Our classroom technology modernization program has achieved these goals by developing and implementing a modern, consistent digital experience in all of our classrooms including desktop computers, document cameras, digital projectors, and digital audio visual inputs for faculty, staff, and student computing devices. Touch display control technologies, developed in-house, have been utilized to eliminate need for individual device remote controls. The digital infrastructure can be remotely supported; University Systems personnel are able to diagnose issues remotely, have spare equipment on hand, and respond to equipment failures quickly using a radio-based dispatch system.
This program is centrally-funded and enabled by the Office of Vice-President Finance and Operations. Three departments (University Systems, Facilities Management and the Office of the Registrar) work as a team to modernize classrooms quickly and efficiently, minimizing classroom disruptions. Efficiency has been achieved by utilizing University Systems and Facilities Management internal resources instead of hiring external contractors; familiarity with the campus environment and unique needs and expectations of instructors and students has resulted in cost savings, scheduling efficiencies, and has allowed us to accelerate project delivery by a factor of 6 (from 5 classrooms/year to 30 classrooms/year).
|Criteria||Please submit one paragraph describing how the proposal fulfills each of the evaluation criteria.|
The modern digital experience is achieved through standard, commodity components with repeatable customizations. Universities that utilize similar standards can take advantage of existing procurement processes and readily available components to provide configurations that are familiar to instructors and support staff, reducing training and support issues. Standard components mean spare parts can be kept on hand and used to mitigate equipment failure. This spare equipment itself is used and kept in known-good working condition in a centralized demo location for faculty and instructors who are seeking a demonstration of the digital experience they will find in the classrooms. Just-in-time support is provided through a dispatch model involving the Computer Help Desk, Audio Visual Services, and a Gator™ Utility Vehicle. This design, the components, and associated support model can be transferred to any other institution seeking to establish a similar modern, supportable classroom environment.
The digital experience standard has been developed to meet the expectations of our teachers and learners; it is of high grade and consistently repeated. Due to in-house design support installation and programming, we are able to directly control the consistent quality of our installations during each phase of this program. Instructors can learn how to use equipment at our Technology Solutions Centre with an Audio Visual Services team member in advance of their class, confident that they are using the same technology configuration that they will find in every classroom. Our instructors and support personnel alike can master our standardized equipment. Planning the equipment refresh on a cycle sets expectations with our Office of the Registrar regarding course scheduling, room bookings, and available technologies for faculty and staff. There have been no reports of classes cancelled due to technology failure since the inception of this program: in November 2011, 65% of support calls were due to equipment failure and 35% due to user error; in November 2017, 64% were due to user error and only 36% due to equipment failure.
Prior to 2014, instructor and learner productivity was impacted by aging and failing equipment. Support personnel were spread thin trying to support a variety of configurations. The University of Victoria contracted out the installation of technology in classrooms, and with external resources we were only able to upgrade 4-5 classrooms annually. With our new model using internal resources, we are able to upgrade an average of 30 classrooms annually. This has resulted in increased instructor and learner productivity support, as well as staff productivity and efficiency. By leveraging internal resources, we are more flexible with classroom scheduling requirements and constraints. In addition to greater timeline efficiency, the use of internal IT and facilities management resources over contractor resources has provided a cost savings of more than 30% since the modernization program began in 2014.
Like most higher education institutions, the University of Victoria had buildings and classrooms of different ages providing different experiences. This increased support complexity, and decreased instructor and learner experience; instructors were often unfamiliar with the unique setups they encountered, equipment was aging and failing, and even their own personal laptops did not always function correctly. The innovation was the creation of an efficient, standardized support model that established a high standard for the digital experience in classrooms. A timeline for the replacement of classroom equipment has now been developed several years in advance to take advantage of academic and funding cycles, and to monitor hardware warranties. This program ensures that equipment is aligned with modernization of devices and introduces the use of new technology like document cameras, replacing overhead projectors and other legacy technology. Active learning classrooms developed through modernization enables new teaching methods, flipped classroom pedagogy, and alternatives to traditional lecture formats. The Computer Help Desk and Audio Visual staff are able to use remote support tools to provide timely support across campus with little or no disruption. The Help Desk has become the dispatch point; instructors call the Help Desk for assistance, and the Help Desk uses radios to dispatch Audio Visual personnel, who can arrive quickly in a Gator™ Utility vehicle with spare parts on hand and detailed knowledge of how the infrastructure is configured.