My recent celebration of 25 years of service with Indiana University coincided with my new(ish) role as Director of Learning Spaces. These two significant milestones in my professional career have stirred a nostalgic trip through my time at IU, including as a Kelley student, as a student worker at Radio/TV Services, and then into roles as their IT specialist and manager; next to UITS for digital video applications, and a couple of other steps to Learning Technologies for my current role. I tend to focus on the future, so the reflection on the past is refreshing.
As I sift through those memories, I recognize a theme of managing transitions. This has been especially evident over the last few years as we've faced a global pandemic and national social changes, as well as leadership changes at IU. The end result of a transition can be positive, but the process to get there can be messy and difficult. To further complicate the situation, it can be hard to separate the personal and professional aspects of many of these transitions.
An honest assessment of my abilities leads me to believe I won't be much help in addressing global issues and their associated transitions, such as war, hunger, and pollution. Therefore, my focus is on experiences in classrooms and student computing. Following are some of the transitions that are in process, either from our own intentional processes or from external influences outside of our control. Both require us to manage their transitions.
Cameras and microphones in the classroom
Before COVID-19, we were on an upward trend in video calling (such as Zoom) and classroom recording (Kaltura), but they have become essential since early 2020. We never imagined that every classroom would be capable of serving as a TV studio, reaching students, faculty, and other presenters for live and on-demand sessions at any time.
As we update the technologies in classrooms, we're adding better cameras and microphones to produce more natural experiences for everyone. This is an equity concern, because you can't be part of a conversation if you can't be heard. Interestingly enough, these technologies are actually capable of enhancing our relationships and may not be as impersonal or distancing as we had previously thought.
Mobility in and out of the classroom
More than ever, faculty and students rely on their laptops for class-related work. This requires us to better support applications and technologies during the assigned class period and in between.
IUanyWare's remote applications and desktops have transformed how students access computing resources and will continue to grow and transform in new ways. Applications like Microsoft Whiteboard allow what were classroom-only chalkboard/whiteboard sessions to be available in both physical and virtual class meetings.
However, there are still challenges with laptops for teaching and learning. For instance, the equity concern again is raised around who has access to devices that adequately support these experiences. What happens to those students that don't have appropriate laptops? The hope is that through the new Inbound student laptop program, we'll have a chance at getting good laptops to our students.
Support of improved student engagement
Learning can happen anywhere, but that doesn't mean those environments are ideal for active learning. We want to ensure that our students have both positive and engaging experiences during (and between) classes.
The Mosaic Initiative continues its support of innovative classroom design, research, and active learning. The success of the Mosaic Faculty Fellows program reflects the ongoing, evolving nature of this work. Our fellows help us recognize and address emerging needs.
Also note the assessment of general inventory classrooms at all IU campuses for active learning certification. Not only do they help us create better classrooms, these certifications also help faculty find spaces that best fit their needs. Search the Classroom Database for classrooms with an Active Learning or Mosaic Certification.
Creating future classrooms
I've worked in IT long enough to have many stories about dead-end technologies. That's the nature of the industry. But we can't stop innovating or engaging with our vendors to develop hardware, software, or other solutions that benefit our teaching and learning mission.
This is why we have created the ALCOVE classrooms to explore and test the next technologies for IU's learning spaces. The first ALCOVE was created in Bloomington's Woodburn Hall, room 203, and the second in Indianapolis' ES 2101. Thanks to feedback received from faculty and students using those rooms, we've developed new control and audio systems that have been deployed widely to new and updated classrooms. We've integrated technologies and classroom designs to stimulate an active and engaging environment. We've demonstrated that wireless faculty laptops can enhance engaging experiences by providing mobility, and that the processes for a student laptop program, if/when viable, are possible.
You'll notice the recurring theme of engaging with faculty and students to improve experiences in both our physical and virtual environments. If the Learning Spaces team can assist with your teaching today or exploration of emerging technologies, we'd love to hear from you!
We face many transitions caused by forces outside of our control. It's up to us to manage those transitions effectively or lead a new one that creates positive impacts on people's lives. Developing relationships is vital to guiding our paths forward. How will you manage your transitions?