“Ask IT” Question:
Hello Meredith and others in IT!! As was discussed at the Fac Senate recently: Podium systems in the classrooms need to be wired from an over-head, drop-down configuration so that there are no wires all over the floor and so we can move the podium around within a certain radius. The wires are a trip hazard and these podiums are also used by students (sometimes several at one time). The podium set up should have a wall mounted instruction guide for the convenience of our ever-changing audience of new faculty and new students(perhaps the user guide could be in a frame, mounted on the wall or mounted to the podium). This guide should be clear and visually oriented and easy to follow—the FAC-senate IT committee should review it before it is put into place. There should also be a small wall guide for the projector on-off box (some are there-others are not). Screens: IT should do a survey of projection screens, room by room; some are too small–too old and not working properly. We should not have to report these conditions they should be checked—floor by floor; building by building and a determination made to replace or remount the screen ( we can’t rely on faculty to report various conditions because they simply don’t get reported). For example look at the screen in a-324, very tricky to use and mounted too far from the wall. Others are tearing, etc. Thanks!
Thank you for your post, you have brought up a number of valid issues, and we hope to address a few here in the post.
In regard to the classroom podiums, we can appreciate how difficult configuring a best solution can be for classroom equipment. Originally when the podiums were placed, the department Chairs expressed an interest in having mobile podiums so that the faculty could configure the classroom as needed for their individual classes, but this meant that the wires had to move with podiums which, as you mentioned, can create a hazard.
Wireless solution were tested, but proved to not have enough horsepower for the activities needed. Permanent placement solutions were also tested, however the faculty moved the equipment regardless to suit their classrooms needs and that ended with damaged podiums as well as damaged equipment when tugged and pushed out of place.
The concept of a drop-down configuration is an interesting one, but we would be worried that hanging wires might create a similar hazardous situation, especially if the podium was moved, and could obscure vision. The CIO, Gregg Chottiner, is in the process of forming a group to discuss these very issues as a result of the Faculty Senate meeting and we will be sure to include you on all communications/meetings so that the faculty and IT can further discuss improved solutions.
Thank you for pointing out the missing instructions. At the beginning of every semester, instructions are attached to each podium. Over time they seem to disappear. The User Support Services group is working on a one-page guide that will be framed and mounted on the podium as a more permanent solution.
The maintenance of the projection screens is another topic that will be addressed in the classroom equipment forum that Gregg is forming. A number of the classroom projector screens, and in some cases, projectors, were installed by areas of the college other than IT, but are not being maintained by those departments. IT is making a greater effort to help streamline these installations by being part of the infrastructure meetings to avoid the problems that you mentioned.