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Audiovisual-enabled classrooms to increase across campuses

With $1.8 million of funding provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, USF information Technology plans to install permanent audiovisual technology in over 50 classrooms across campuses by fall 2022. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE/ADOBE STOCK

USF Information Technology (IT) is increasing the number of audiovisual-enabled classrooms across all three campuses by fall 2022 to improve the remote teaching and learning experience with $1.8 million provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act Funding.

IT plans to use the funds to replace audiovisual (AV) portable kits and put improved permanent AV technology in classrooms for continued remote learning availability, System Vice President for Technology Sidney Fernandes said. The setup will include a computer, projector with a screen or TV, instructor and audience microphones, cameras for the instructor and room and high-speed Wi-Fi.

The upgrades will give a more standard functionality of AV in classrooms to improve the teaching and learning experience for those participating in classes remotely.

“The biggest change in this new standard are new audience microphones that will allow students in the class and students at home to be heard equally when speaking, and an instructor camera that can be set toward the presenter or the white board,” said Fernandes.

Nine classrooms have already gotten their updated technology, and more will as it becomes available. The spending deadline is May 1, so all equipment will be purchased before then, according to Fernandes.

Once the installations are completed, 40 classrooms at the Tampa campus and USF Health in Water Street Tampa will have updated and permanent AV capability, as well as 15 at St. Pete and three at Sarasota-Manatee. The Digital Learning Ecosystem Governance Workgroup determined which rooms get the upgrades, taking into consideration how frequently the spaces are used for instruction.

Portable AV kits were initially given to faculty that didn’t have full AV functionality at home. The kits were portable carrying cases that had two speakers with bluetooth adapters, a webcam, tripod, USF Hub, USB wall charger and USB extension cable.

“These AV kits quickly enabled remote teaching and learning in classrooms that did not have full AV functionality during the pandemic,” said Fernandes.

The initial use of the kits acted as a quick response to all the changes in education due to COVID-19. The updated equipment allows for remote learning to continue in a more consistent way.

“The idea came from Innovative Education, faculty stakeholders and the experiences that IT gained before the pandemic from building the new Morsani Downtown Medical Center,” said Fernandes.

Classes will not be impacted by the installation of the equipment as they are scheduled while the classrooms are not in use, according to Fernandes.

The upgraded technology in classrooms is expected to allow students and faculty to join class remotely in a safe and efficient way.

“Upgraded AV in classrooms provides a more consistent technology experience for students and faculty, whether they are attending remotely or in the classroom,” Fernandes said.

“Students and faculty can keep themselves and others safe by participating in courses from off campus if illness or self-quarantine due to exposure is necessary.”