The University of Iowa

May 22, 2022


The Learning Spaces Technology [LST] Support team has been hyper focused on maintaining and improving UI’s classrooms during the current academic year. Projects include the replacement of older document cameras with the installation of newer document cameras in every UCR [University Classroom], the replacement of older ITC [Instructional Technology Center] printers, as well as the roughly 20-percent annual replacement of out-of-warranty computer workstations, among others. It also includes the roughly five-year long process of installing and providing the Mersive Solstice system in all UCRs. 

The LST Support team has completed a campus-wide installation of the Mersive Solstice system now available in all 326 UCRs. The Solstice system allows wireless sharing of content from almost any source, including Apple and Windows laptops, or Apple or Android tablets and/or smartphones. Over 550 total Solstice devices, facilitating wireless presentation and collaborative content sharing, are currently available in campus learning spaces enabling groups to work in more dynamic and productive ways. Some learning spaces such as TILE classrooms, such as the recently constructed Lindquist Center N150, can have up to nine Solstice pods integrated into the room’s A/V system to accommodate multiple groups/displays at a time. To further help facilitate Solstice integration in learning spaces for instructors and students, OTLT [the Office of Teaching, Learning, and Technology] is actively preparing to design a Solstice and Active Learning Workshop for instructors available late Spring semester of 2022.  

Document Camera Upgrades

The LST Support team has completed installation of over 170 document cameras resulting in their availability in all UCRs, though some large lecture rooms provide dual document cameras. The newest WolfVision vSolutions Cam document camera, is a small-footprint, LED-based, and Zoom-friendly document sharing and writing capture device that can serve both face-to-face and hybrid classroom environments. Older WolfVision document cameras will continue to be replaced on a rolling “as available” basis.

Additionally, due to the inclusion of power-over-ethernet [PoE] switches on many of these document camera and Solstice installations, these devices can be remotely monitored and managed. Remote monitoring and management of classroom technology allows quicker response times to unintended issues and pending updates, making for better overall classroom experiences for instructors and students.  

 


Updating ITC Printers & Workstations

For UI’s ITCs, student computer labs designed for access to academic computing resources, back-ordered printers have arrived to replace printers at the end of their service lives. The pandemic-induced supply chain issues affected the availability of replacement printers for nearly a year until 42 printers were recently delivered. The CS820de Lexmark printers recently received are production-quality color laser printers capable of duplex printing and 1200x1200 dpi prints with various environmentally friendly, energy-saving features. These 42 printer replacements will represent a reduction in managed units from the 65 currently deployed around campus. These new printers will soon be deployed into ITC learning spaces alongside 100 laptops recently added to the UI Libraries checkout pool, and 214 recently replaced workstations including 145 SFF [Small Form Factor] Windows workstations, 36 all-in-one [AIO] workstations, and 33 Apple iMacs.

With UCR and ITC computer workstations on a 5-year warranty, Les Neu, an LST Senior IT Support Consultant, expects a “roughly 20-percent replacement” of out-of-warranty workstations per year, and goes on to say that among all ITCs, LST currently supports and manages “a total of 875 workstations and 217 laptops, 70 printers and 74 document scanners.” In all, LST “directly supports 1,902 total workstations in all campus and off-campus locations encompassing testing centers and partner locations to include the Continuing Education Facility [CEF], Des Moines, Lakeside, and Kirkwood learning spaces,” says Neu. Additional services supported and managed by the LST Support team include 104 Meetio reservation/scheduling devices, 500+ Primex atomic clocks, and an ever-increasing number of intelligent PDUs [power distribution units] providing network monitoring capabilities [currently 45 units and counting].  

Standardizing Control Panel GUIs

There is also an ongoing effort to standardize all UCR touch control panels by Bryan Cooling, an LST IT Support Analyst, and his colleague, Phil Gugliuzza, an LST Senior Communications Engineer. There are currently about 50-plus touch panels affected by this close collaboration towards designing a campus standard that is also informed by usability guidelines and UI branding. While many of these UCRs are unique in their A/V design and capability, the push to standardize the control panel GUI [graphical user interface] is driven by a desire to make them function similarly and intuitively so “instructors can focus on their instruction [and content] instead of figuring out how the room’s technology works, says Cooling.  

These highly organized and choreographed projects correspond directly with a recently undertaken inventory of supported and managed equipment. With that inventory now completed, the LST Support team now begins to prepare for the upcoming annual summer refresh of recent or nearly out-of-warranty equipment. In addition to the expected 20-percent of workstation replacements and additional classroom A/V equipment, Tino Kaltsas, an IT Manager and LST Associate Director, mentions “Solstice has existed on this campus in some form or another for five years now” and may finally begin to lead towards “a handful of Solstice replacements” as well. Typical of the determined optimism the LST Support team has displayed under the lead of Batterson, the team will push forward with preparation for the next academic year despite the lingering backdrop of delivery and backorder uncertainties.

 


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