Avoid loose “springs” in classrooms this semester

Accompanying video: EdTech Tip: Back in the ClassroomsFollow along with Cheryl and Dan as they explore some of the new (and not-so-new) technology in campus classrooms.

Welcome back to all Denison faculty members!

With the spring semester just two weeks away, it is time to get into classrooms and check out the technology, space, and the dreaded COVID changes. We know many faculty members already make it a plan to go into classrooms before the first day, but with social distancing and technology changes, it is even more important to get into those classrooms sooner rather than later. Due to updates in technology over the winter break, please understand that some rooms will have different setups than they did in the fall semester. This means that the classrooms you may have taught in just a few months ago might be different. We cannot stress how important it is to visit all classrooms and take them for test drives before the first day of classes. 

Moreover, even if you are not planning to have any remote students, consider your strategy for the classroom and the course if one or more students end up in quarantine/isolation before the semester starts. Even if you are teaching transitional mode, we highly encourage you to test drive your classrooms and get an overview of the tech before the semester starts.

Be sure to watch this video by Cheryl and Dan about checking and testing out classrooms on campus.

Classroom Technology

The standard hybrid Denison classroom setup includes a video camera on a tripod and a snowball microphone, which can be moved around the room. ETS has a checklist for the standard classroom setup available here. Some classrooms are equipped with different built-in or array microphones that have been strategically placed around the classroom. You cannot move these built-in microphones, but they have been set up to pick up students in the classroom better than the single snowball microphone. Visit the Campus Learning Spaces website to see the different technology in the rooms. See this spreadsheet for more information on which classroom has which setup.

PLEASE NOTE: Major planned room enhancements have been completed (except for Mulberry Gallery) with some secondary enhancements continuing the week of Jan. 25.

New classroom technology enhancements during Winter Break include:

  • BMRG 115: Mic Array Room: system with a ceiling panel (with a green “on” light) and multiple ceiling mics placed throughout the room which alternate to pick up the speaker for clearer audio for online students. Settings in Meet and Zoom are “Shure ANIUSB-MATRIX” for audio input and “Extron ScalerD” for audio output. This room uses the standard floor webcam.
  • Higley 105 and Mitchell All-American Room: Nureva Mic Array Bar: a bar is mounted on the wall and uses multiple tiny built-in mics to pick up audio throughout the room. Settings in Meet and Zoom are “HDL300” for audio input and “Extron ScalerD” for audio output. This room uses the standard floor webcam.
  • BMRG Faculty Common, Bryant 413, ECPA Burke Recital, ECPA Burke Rehearsal, ECPA Martin Theatre, Herrick Auditorium, Knobel Hall, Mulberry Gallery, Slayter Auditorium, and Swasey Stage: Scarlett audio system: multiple stationary mics on stands pick up audio throughout the space and feed into the Scarlett system. Please do not move mics as they have been placed for ultimate audio enhancement. Settings in Meet and Zoom are “Scarlett18i8” for audio input and “Extron ScalerD” for audio output. Some spaces have an additional lapel or handheld mic for instructor use if needed. Check the Hybrid Tech Equipment in Classrooms 2020-21 to verify the equipment in your space. These rooms use the standard floor webcam.

If your online students have difficulty hearing you, consult with an instructional technologist about getting a voice amplifier.

Space and Spacing

Due to COVID-19 regulations, students must be 6 feet apart in classrooms (see CDC “Considerations for Institutions of Higher Education”). The desks have been set up to reflect appropriate spacing, and each classroom has a limit based on the size and space available. Some Denison faculty members have commented on how shocking it was to see the classrooms for the first time with the COVID-19 spacing in place. This is another reason it is important to see the spaces in advance. 

Teaching Remote Students from the Classroom

If you are teaching a class where some students will be joining from remote locations, there is the added layer of figuring out how to make the technology and the space work for your teaching style and your remote students. Some main tips that we have gathered from Denison faculty members are included below.

  • Survey all students at the start of the semester to learn their concerns in advance.
    (Here is a sample survey.)
  • Arrive early to class and check all of the technology settings to ensure the video camera and microphones are working properly.
  • Greet remote students and encourage them to speak to those in the room.
  • Have a student in the classroom monitor the chat in the virtual class so you can see if the remote students post any questions or comments.
  • Have a student in the classroom move the camera as needed so the remote students can see what is happening in the room.
  • Assign a student or two each week to be in charge of spraying disinfectant on the student desks before leaving the classroom. (This will allow you to focus on cleaning the technology equipment that you have used.)

In fall 2020 remote students submitted feedback about their experience with the technology in their classes. See the blog post EdTech Tips to Improve the Remote Student Experience for feedback from remote students and interviews from Denison Faculty members about how they handled the “hybrid” classroom environment. 

Additional Resources