We are currently in one of our classrooms in the Aldevron tower. The reason we are in here is to discuss some of the equipment and give you an idea of what the equipment looks like in one of these classrooms. In the video above Daniel Erichsen and Sharley Kurtz will give you more visual and audio examples of what the equipment looks and sounds like. In this blog post, we will provide general information and some images to assist you with the HyFlex classroom technology.
Let’s begin by walking you through the steps to start everything for your class connection as if you would be walking into this classroom right now. If you are teaching remotely at any point during the semester, these steps will need to be done by a teaching assistant or another instructor before you can join the class. NDSU’s Information Technology Services department is working on a remote solution for this but, it may not be ready in time for the first few weeks of school.
Follow these step-by-step instructions for using the touchscreen and starting your class.
Starting Your HyFlex Class Using the Crestron Control Panel
As you walk into a classroom, go to your instructor podium and find the Crestron control panel. It is a little screen on the desk. When you wake it up, there is a “Start Class” button. Beginning in fall semester, all classrooms should see an additional button titled, “Start A Web Conference.”
- Use the start a web conference button. The start class button will still start the equipment, like it has in the past, but it won’t give you the additional buttons to control cameras and microphones. In all of our classrooms we have installed lapel microphones and also ceiling microphones. Even if the classroom microphones are not installed or not working, you still want to do a web conference using the lapel microphone. Always start in the conference mode so you have the correct kind of switching capabilities which we will discuss here soon.
You will get to a screen very similar to what you have seen in the past. You have your source selection on the left side: computer, document camera, and laptop/mobile device. We will add links to view step-by-step instructions for operation of each of those functions as soon as they are ready. You will also see volume controls and a start class button. In addition to all of these, you now have a camera controls option right there and a mute microphone control. Those controls are for the two new pieces of equipment: cameras and microphones.
- The mute microphone is as simple as that. It’s a toggle on or off if you push that button. All the microphones in the room will be muted including the lapel microphone, as well as the ceiling microphones. Nothing gets amplified and nothing gets transmitted out if you push that button. So, let’s say you are teaching remotely and you don’t want to hear your students taking notes on their laptops, you could then mute the microphone in the room. Muting the room microphone when you are teaching remotely reduces the distractions for the other remote students. Another example is, you could mute your microphones, so that a remote student who is presenting doesn’t get distracted by classroom noise or side conversations.
Next, we will go over the open camera controls. To do that you will go to the open camera control button. We are installing or have installed two cameras per classroom; one is in the back of the room on the instructor podium and one is at the front of the room with a view of the classroom. You can switch between the instructor camera and the class camera. You can manually zoom in or out, but in most cases, that is not needed for the instructor camera.
In the fall, there will be an automatic zoom triggered by either a pressure mat on the ground or through a motion sensor in the ceiling above. As you are coming into the room and going to the instructor podium to start the system, the system will know you are here. It will select the instructor camera and will zoom in on you. As you get up and move around, it will then zoom out. All of that should happen automatically. The only time you really need to go into the camera controls is if you want to do anything beyond that. For example, zooming into very specific areas of the room with a camera or switching to the other camera in the classroom.
If you want to preset your camera angles, bring your camera to a certain position and then hit the “preset save” button and hit a number key, then that camera position is saved there. You can bring the camera to another position and do the same thing. You can save three or four or five different camera shots that you can access quickly by pressing the corresponding number button during your class. You will need to do this each time you enter your classes but, it takes only a minute or two to do this which can save a lot of time during your class.
- The next thing to do is log into the computer.
- Then log into Blackboard. And from there, you should be able to start either Blackboard Collaborate Ultra or Zoom. Microsoft Teams will also be installed on the computers, but you would start that directly off of the Teams app in the program list or off the link you have in your Blackboard course. If you are not sharing content, remote learners will see a video feed of the class. In the video above, Erichsen shows examples of what a class would look and sound like with and without masks.
One last new component is the computer monitors. They are going to be replaced in all of our classrooms with a smart display. The smart display will allow you to use a stylus that comes with it and interact with your content.
Let’s say you bring up the whiteboard feature in your video conference software, currently, the only thing you can do is use the mouse cursor and make some crude drawings. With the smart display and a stylus. You will be able to do really nice clean drawings, math equations, graphing, writing, and more. You could use this technology in place of a whiteboard. Using the document camera is the smartest way to give your remote students the absolute best experience because the drawings show up more clearly than using a standard whiteboard with a camera pointed at it. You can also use the stylus as the mouse, so you can interact with websites opening and closing things. Another feature is to annotate over anything. If you have a PowerPoint presentation or a website, you can make notes on top of it. You will really be able to use this surface more efficiently and all of these drawing on the screen will get recorded. In your video conference software, you can specifically save them as documents if you want to place them within Blackboard.
Hopefully, this gives you a better idea of how to set up the equipment in your classroom this year. Each classroom should have a similar, if not exact set up. We encourage each of you to take a moment to go to your classroom and familiarize yourself with the new equipment. For more information view the fall semester classroom FAQs.
If you have any questions or run into technology issues at any point in your class, call the helpdesk at 1-8685 (option 5). Each classroom will have the helpdesk number posted where you can easily find it.
About the Authors:
Daniel Erichsen is an interactive technology consultation with North Dakota State University’s (NDSU) Learning and Applied Innovation Center. Erichsen manages the interactive technology services at NDSU and advises faculty, staff, and students in the use of interactive technologies. He has 10 years of experience working in Information Technology and 15 years of experience working in Higher Education. Erichsen holds an M.S. degree in international business economics from Aalborg University in Aalborg, Denmark and a B.S. degree in business administration from the University of Wyoming in Laramie.
Sharley Kurtz is the assistant manager of NDSU’s Learning and Applied Innovation Center. Kurtz holds a Master of Science degree in instructional design and technology and a Bachelor of Science degree in athletic training from the University of North Dakota. Kurtz has 12 years of experience in instructional design and higher education. Currently, she supervises the LAI Center staff and operations, facilitates processes and solutions and provides technical support. Prior to her arrival at NDSU in 2018, Kurtz worked as an instructional designer at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs and the University of North Dakota. Her passion is assisting instructors in designing instruction and integrating technology into their courses to enhance student learning.
In nearly 15 years at NDSU, Jadrny has learned a lot about higher education. She curates this blog to allow all individuals to continue learning about higher education and best practices in teaching.
Let’s learn together!