The University of Iowa

May 11, 2022


Learning Spaces Technology [LST] is a group at The University of Iowa being assisted by LST Support Students selected to ensure classroom technology is available for faculty and students. LST Support Students come with various technology backgrounds and skills. Some students have extensive tech backgrounds and others joined LST with minimal skills or knowledge but wish to learn more about technology and responsibility. Current Support Students with LST include: Bre Bradshaw, an English senior; Sabrina Hubbard, a Computer Science & Engineering sophomore; Jack Lanigan a junior; Pamela Moya, an Engineering junior; Tricia Roberts, a Neurology sophomore whose sister Emily also once worked as an LST Support Student; Adam Skowronski, an Engineering junior; and Shannon Wenzel, a Public Health junior.

LST Support Students systematically evaluate 326 UCRs [University Classrooms] across campus with a "Room Check” process consisting of A/V equipment testing as well as troubleshooting of encountered issues. The detailed room check process was introduced by Anne Schimke, an LST Senior IT Support Consultant supervising a team of LST Support Students. Schimke’s room check process includes several pro-active tasks requiring LST Support Students to use their expanding knowledge of classroom technology to ensure learning spaces are ready for classes. They’re also expected to begin developing skills that help them anticipate potential issues which may hinder instruction.

Checking Classroom Technology

LST Support Students encounter issues during room checks ranging from identifying unplugged, damaged, or missing cables/cords, to reconnecting equipment such as laptops, webcams, and microphones, or replacing computers, monitors, and battery stock for wireless devices and remotes. However, not all encountered issues are immediately correctable; in such cases, LST Support Students must quickly assess and address the situation by troubleshooting and identifying issues before reporting them. With situations not immediately correctable, LST Support Students are oftentimes the first to forward previously unreported UCR technology issues.

When an LST Support Student enters a UCR, they begin the room check process by first observing the clock’s function. Both instructors and students typically rely on the wall-mounted, wireless and atomically-set clocks to indicate when classes begin and end, and the most commonly reported clock issues include battery replacement and time correction. All campus UCRs include A/V control systems, which include microphones, webcams, speakers, computers, projectors or TVs, Blu-Ray players, document cameras, and at least one Mersive Solstice wireless presentation system. LST Support Students test the lectern control panels managing the learning space’s A/V components [media switchers and audio matrices, among others]. Without properly functioning control panels and their respective GUIs [graphical user interfaces], a classroom’s A/V components are typically rendered unusable, thus making Schimke’s pro-active “Room Check” approach to classroom technology maintenance even more critical.

Testing A/V Capability & Lecture Capture

LST Support Students next check microphones, including wireless and USB lectern microphones. To test microphones, LST Support Students log into instructor workstations and check Zoom, Skype, or Panopto audio settings. Through these app audio settings, LST Support Students can observe for appropriate audio ingestion into Zoom, Skype, and Panopto for online audiences, as well as monitor microphone voice-lift into classroom speaker systems for face-to-face audiences. Zoom, Skype, and Panopto are also used to check webcam video integrity within the learning space. UCRs currently include either a Huddly Go or PTZ [pan-tilt-zoom] webcam ensuring learning spaces are distance learning and hybrid environment capable.

Document cameras are next for evaluation, checking to ensure cables are properly connected and integrated with instructor workstation applications like Zoom, Skype, and/or Panopto. Next, Blu-Ray players are tested to confirm operation as expected. One of the final items screened is the Mersive Solstice system. Solstice’s wireless presentation technology promotes collaborative, active, and student-centered learning within the classroom and is becoming an essential Learning Space Technology for instructors and students. “It’s a powerful tool for teaching and learning so it's important to ensure it has the ability to work to its fullest potential,” says first-year LST Support Student Assistant, Tricia Roberts. Upon completion of a room check, LST Support Students will have tested every aspect of classroom technology as well as their tech skills and knowledge to ensure a learning space is prepared to welcome incoming classes.

Favorite LST Experiences

In addition to conducting room checks around busy UCR schedules, correcting and reporting issues, or managing documented issues, LST Support Students are also likely to respond to requests by faculty and staff for immediate assistance before or during scheduled classes. Several LST Support Students agreed that meeting professors and learning more about classroom technology are benefits to working with LST. Lanigan’s favorite part of room checks is, “testing mics and becoming a more efficient troubleshooter,” while Bradshaw’s favorite LST experience is, “the satisfaction of fixing a problem. Skowronski likes, “learning the layout of the campus and getting familiar with the buildings,” and Hubbard appreciates, “awkwardly meeting students” and “getting to know the custodial services staff during evening shifts.” There are additional benefits to working as an LST Support Student, reflects Pamela Moya. “I really appreciate the flexibility with schedules. As a third-year, life has gotten pretty hectic with my studies, and Anne [my supervisor] is very understanding with re-scheduling shifts to accommodate my midterms. Doing room checks is fairly easy, and I feel accomplished being able to fix something for the next class.” Overall, Moya says she “really enjoys working for LST and its welcoming community.”

 


Visit the COVID-19: Classroom Experience site for additional information regarding University Classroom expectations for the 2021 Fall semester.

For information regarding the COVID-19 Operational Response for Custodial Services, Building Operations and Maintenance and/or the UI Operational Plan for Cleaning and Disinfecting of Building Spaces, please visit the Facilities Management.

For assistance with classroom technology issues, please contact the ITS Help Desk at 384-HELP [4357] or its-helpdesk@uiowa.edu

University Classroom Support