Officials nearly finished with classroom technology renovations

Media Credit: Max Wang | Senior Staff Photographer

GW gave nearly 135 classrooms a technological makeover over the past four years.

Four years after the University pledged to give 135 classrooms a technological facelift, nearly all classrooms due for an upgrade have been outfitted with the latest technology, officials said.

Dean of GW Libraries and Academic Innovation Geneva Henry said staff added technology to 23 classrooms last academic year, leaving the University with just two more classrooms to update. She declined to say when the digital transition will be completed.

“GW Libraries and Academic Innovation continues to work with the Office of the Provost to identify classrooms for future technology and furniture improvements, ensuring the general purpose classroom environment meets the changing needs of the GW academic community,” she said in an email.

Henry declined to say how many classrooms are scheduled to be updated in the fall and spring semesters. She also declined to say how many classrooms were scheduled to be updated over the summer.

Academic Technologies began adding new technology to classrooms in summer 2014, equipping the spaces with new Apple products and allowing faculty to host web conferences and project class material to an entire classroom.

The Elliott School of International Affairs, the Media and Public Affairs Building, and Funger, Phillips and Duques halls were among the buildings that received upgrades, according to the department’s website.

Allan Gyorke, the assistant provost for educational innovation and chief academic technology officer at the University of Miami, said completing technology updates little by little can help save the University money in the long run.

Replacing old projectors and adding software to computers is expensive if the University updates them all at once, he said, but if rooms are updated incrementally, there is less strain on the budget.

“It’s predictable in the budget because it’s the same every year,” he said.

Paul Bergen, the director of educational technology and learning spaces at Tufts University, said it can cost more than $100,000 to update technology in large lecture halls.

He said the key to incorporating more technology into classrooms is “lifecycle planning,” to ensure classrooms are upgraded in waves rather than all at once.

“Administrative challenges are often mitigated if a school has classroom technology standards so that they can build economies of scale in purchasing, don’t have to spend months figuring out what to buy and can ensure a consistent user experience across classrooms,” Bergen said.

Mike Alstrom, the chief information officer at Muskegon Community College in Michigan, said his university updates technology for some departments more often than others depending on demand, like upgrading graphic design software to keep “current with the standards.”

“The most important things to consider is when faculty are interacting with students, you need to have a high-quality and consistent experience,” Alstrom said. “It’s a disturbance to the classroom when an instructor goes to use technology and it doesn’t do what it’s expected.”

He said faculty adapting to updated technology can be a challenge if they are “a late adopter,” meaning they don’t jump to learn new technology updates from the get-go.

“When faculty are in the same routine in a particular manner, and change requires efforts, they have to push past that initial level of effort to get the value of new technology,” he said.

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