MPA debuts new classroom technology

The opening of the new Media and Public Affairs building Monday welcomes “fiber to the chair” technology to GW’s classrooms and a new GWTV studio capable of producing broadcast quality video, University officials said.

Most classrooms and auditorium seats in the MPA building will be wired with electrical jacks and fiber-optic data ports, allowing students to “plug directly into a fiber-optic backbone,” said Jeff Baxter, communications coordinator for Information Systems and Services.

“GW’s data network is perhaps one of the most advanced of any University,” Baxter said. “Five years ago, we were kind of behind; now we’re way ahead.”

Students can connect laptop computers to electrical outlets and fiber-optic ports in the classroom chairs with a standard ethernet card in their computers. But as fiber optic connections become more prominent, Baxter said, the connections will be direct fiber ports and allow even faster internet connection.

“(This) opens up a huge amount of bandwidth,” Baxter said.

The chairs installed in the MPA building are the product of collaboration between ISS and a vendor that offered standard copper-network connections but not the capacity for fiber ports. ISS spent four months redesigning classroom chairs, which the vendor now markets for fiber-optic connections, Baxter said.

“This puts us at the forefront of electronic classrooms,” Baxter said.

The University replaced 180 network closets around campus with 11 hubsites to provide faster internet connection speeds in University buildings. The switch frees space that the closets used and creates a “high speed network backbone” for the campus, according to an ISS newsletter.

GWTV, a production house and facility that offers videoconferencing and distance learning on campus, will use a teleconferencing room in the lower level of the MPA building. Students and faculty will use the facility to participate in live classroom discussions with people around the world, said Ted Christensen, assistant vice president of GWTV.

The new teleconferencing room accommodates 75 students – 50 more than GWTV’s current Academic Center space holds, Christensen said.

The MPA building will also house a flash studio, a small TV studio with
a single permanently mounted camera that feeds broadcast-quality video.

The studio will be available for use by networks such as C-SPAN for on-campus segments, including interviews with GW faculty members who are considered experts on specific topics.

“(This) will open the door for more visibility for GW across America,” Christensen said.

The studio is designed for easy use with virtually no set-up, Christensen
said.

“You walk in, flip some switches and you’re running,” he said.

The $1,000 fee all students in the School of Media and Public Affairs will pay each year will cover the new maintenance costs of GWTV equipment. Those costs are deferred by money the University charges outside groups to use the facility, Christensen said.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.