This summer, the LITS Media Services team has been working in conjunction with the Classroom ERT (Emergency Response Team) to identify and equip teaching spaces and create video-conferencing spaces to enable remote teaching. These spaces can be used for either synchronous teaching or asynchronous recording of course content. Capabilities include:
Lecture and demonstration spaces:
Several classrooms are equipped with Pan Tilt Zoom (PTZ) cameras and enhanced microphones to enable lecture style coursework or hands-on demonstrations.
Asynchronous content development:
Looking for a space to record asynchronous content to supplement synchronous content? Many classrooms and special use spaces on campus are equipped with the video-conferencing technology needed to record course content.
Group video-conferencing spaces:
These spaces are ideal for co-taught courses, panel discussions, guest speakers and later can be used to support group discussions or seminars. The technology includes an OWL 360 degree camera with built-in omni microphone array that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to pivot focus on the speaker or a multi-person discussion, enabling a more engaging bi-modal experience.
LITS and the Dean of Faculty’s office are pleased to be able to offer new loaner pools of equipment to help support FIT teaching needs of faculty. This equipment is meant to augment existing technology solutions to meet remote teaching needs.
Portable video-conference kits
Available for loan to enable remote learning by supporting remote synchronous or asynchronous teaching. These portable kits include a webcam, a small flexible tripod, USB hub, and tabletop microphone.
Available for long-term loan through Media Services for use in teaching, will include:
- USB Extenders
- USB Microphones
- Tripod mount smartphone clamps
- Small flexible tripods
Digital whiteboarding equipment
One of the most common questions we have received from faculty as they transition to virtual course delivery is, “How do I replicate the Chalkboard/Whiteboard experience?” Whether your need is for writing math formulas, foreign language characters, or you need to be able to write notes for your class, this equipment can help to replicate that whiteboard experience using digital technology.
The following equipment is available to borrow:
- USB document cameras - these overhead cameras can be pointed to a desktop to capture the output of pen on paper or can be used for small demonstration purposes or for display of artifacts.
- Wacom tablets - these digital writing tablets can be used to meet writing, annotation or artistic needs.
A limited number of laptops are available for loan. Available stock may be limited by supply chain issues, but devices will be made available as soon as possible once received by LITS and processed for lending.
How to borrow equipment
Equipment loans can be requested online. Stock is limited and requests will be fulfilled by approval of the Dean of Faculty’s office. Supply chain issues may impact availability of some items. The pool will be replenished as new stock arrives. Equipment may be borrowed by up to a full Mod with the option to renew for Mod 2.
Connecting remote learners to specialized academic software that is normally available via campus computer labs presents a special challenge with the shift to remote learning. LITS has been working to meet these challenges on multiple fronts.
When possible, we have worked with software vendors to convert campus licenses to site licenses that allow installation of software on personal computers for student use. SPSS, Mathematica and MATLAB are available to current students, faculty and staff through our site license agreement. To request access, please submit the academic software for home use request form.
Remote access to computer labs
In cases where that is not possible, we have worked to create a remote access solution using software that we already own (Sassafras Keyserver). This tool helps remote users connect to MHC computer lab machines using common remote connection software. Once connected to an MHC computer lab machine, the remote user can make use of specialized software available on the machine. Performance may vary based on internet connection at the remote location, operating system version, or specialized application. Faculty familiar with specialized software are encouraged to test out this resource with specific specialized software before recommending for student use.
Open source software considerations
Faculty who are considering using open source software should ensure that access is widely available to remote students learning from across the globe. Do not assume software readily available in the United States is accessible to all students.
Headsets are considered individualized equipment, not appropriate for loaning, and will not be part of the loaner pool. If you are in need of a video conferencing capable headset, please see our Headset Options document. LITS has provided headset recommendations to enable direct purchasing by campus departments. Headsets are in high demand, impacting the availability of stock. Specific items listed may not be available for purchase, but recommendations include approved brands and preferred vendors.
- It is not necessary to spend hundreds of dollars for a decent headset; average cost should be about $30-80, depending on your needs.
- Choose a headset that meets the demands of your teaching/work environment.
- Wired headsets will ensure the most reliable sound quality.
External monitors (with built-in webcams)
LITS has placed an order for external monitors with built-in webcams, but delivery date is schedule for the end of September. We will make these items available as part of the loaner pool as soon as they become available.
External monitors (without webcams)
Faculty are encouraged to use the assigned monitor from your MHC office as an external monitor for a home office if that is a viable option. Before choosing this option, please contact the the Helpdesk with the following information:
- Name of faculty member
- Building/room number from which the monitor is being removed
- Asset tag of the monitor (some may not have one)
- Information about the home setup, including laptop or computer type and available video connectors. This will help the support group to advise about compatibility and adapters that may be needed.
Asset lifecycle replacement
Faculty who are eligible for computer replacements will be contacted by LITS staff. We are prioritizing teaching faculty and academic departments. While the replacement process was temporarily suspended during the stay-at-home order, we have resumed desktop replacement efforts. Supply chain issues, coupled with staff reductions and new safety measures, are impacting our ability to move through this process quickly. Some devices are more easily obtained than others- in particular, Apple equipment and high demand items (like external monitors with built-in web cameras) have longer delivery times and may take several months to complete. On-campus resources or loaner equipment may be available to mitigate these time delays. We appreciate your understanding and patience.