Based on faculty feedback, ITS rewrote the position of the Classroom Support Manager last spring to emphasize supporting the teaching experience in classrooms: making sure that the technology runs smoothly, being highly responsive to issues as they arise, and soliciting regular feedback from the faculty who use the technology on a daily basis. As part of Michael Decker’s transition into this role, we’ve started modifying a number of our processes, with more changes planned moving forward.
As many of you know, letting your computer run for days or weeks without rebooting can cause a number of issues that go away after it’s been turned off and back on again. The technology in classrooms is no different. While the projectors, screens, and computers get power-cycled regularly, some of the more complicated components, like the device that switches between the various video inputs and the pieces that send the video signal from the podium to the projector, are never turned off. We are scheduling regular, preventative power-cycling of all those pieces. We plan to reboot all the equipment in every classroom at least three times per term. Since those components are frequently behind problems that surface, we expect this will result in fewer problems while faculty are trying to teach.
We don’t always learn about issues in classrooms during the working day, which can result in a bit of an early morning panic to check any rooms with reported issues before the first class of the day. We’ve designated a group of staff members to be on call to perform those checks any morning that we get more than one or two reports. In the event that an issue comes up in a classroom that cannot be fixed during or between classes, we’ve created targeted mailing lists of all the profs teaching in each classroom during the term to make sure that we can notify them of what the situation is before they arrive to teach.
The point of the changes we’re implementing is to make the use of technology in your teaching as smooth as possible. We need your feedback to know how we’re doing on this, and so we’re working to make it easier to tell us things, both good and bad. We’ll be more visible in buildings between classes, you’ll get more notifications about issues and changes when they’re relevant, and we may seek you out, to ask you about your experiences. We know that having technology fail in the middle of teaching is incredibly disruptive, but we also know having people come into your classroom to try to fix it can be equally disruptive. We’ll be working with you to figure out how to balance that.
We’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to Michael Decker (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Austin Robinson-Coolidge (email@example.com) to let us know what you think.