The University of Iowa

Solstice: Wireless Presentation and Collaboration in All University Classrooms [UCRs]


May 13, 2021

Along with the typical refresh of computers, printers and A/V equipment in ITC and UCRs, LST has been charged with updating all current UCRs with Mersive Solstice Pods. These pods allow for wireless presentation and collaboration capability. While many learning spaces were already equipped with this capability, the addition of 165 pods will mean that all UCRs will now have this feature. While the Solstice platform has been on campus and in classrooms [as well as conference rooms] for several years, it will now have a ubiquitous presence/role in campus learning space environments. At its very basic capability, Solstice allows users to wirelessly connect their own devices. Solstice has also students and faculty to share content and collaborate in learning spaces, and with its latest update, it’s capable of being integrated into hybrid learning environments and conferencing with Zoom, Panopto/UICapture, and Teams.

Bryan Cooling, an LST IT Support Analyst, believes that although a lot of classroom technology might be thought of as plug and play, “there is more to it than just putting a doc cam, Solstice, or projector in; then, there’s some programming involved and a GUI [graphical user interface] that may need to be adjusted.” In addition to the installation and programming of these technologies there can be spatial or connective concerns as well. Cooling says, “there are some issues, like a concern for PoE [Power over Ethernet] that require enough physical space for it to be added and used in A/V racks for podiums.” Overall, however, Cooling believes that “Solstice has been pretty good except for having to be power-cycled on occasion, and with over 300 pods scattered over campus, it can be a lot of labor-intensive ground to cover for anyone.”

Mersive Solstice Setup

To begin mitigation for a concern such as this, Anne Schimke, an LST Senior IT Support Consultant, has worked closely with Mersive to keep Solstice Cloud, their monitoring and management application, updated. She’s also developed a rapport with their staff that has led to a customizing of our orders. Schimke says, “we’ll be purchasing Mersive Solstice units with pre-configured settings that more realistically make this device plug and play” and “remotely manageable” upon their arrival and installation. Throughout this ongoing process, Schimke has had high praise for Mersive’s collaboration with LST and her efforts.

Mersive has also developed an integrated conferencing capability and Schimke believes that it may hold some potential for simplifying classroom A/V designs, installations, and support. LST A/V team lead Paul Ross, a Senior Communications Infrastructure Engineer, also believes, “Mersive’s Conference platform needs to be evaluated further because it may hold some potential for simplifying A/V systems periphery.” While going wireless and de-cluttering learning spaces may make for better learning environments and more easily supported classroom systems, Schimke doesn’t believe we’re totally there yet. While LST and technology continue to make progress towards that, “it will probably be a little bit before faculty and students get to use Solstice to get away from cabling.”

 


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

 

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