Big Changes to Classrooms and Labs

1 September 2023
By Adit Burkule, Janet Scannell

What you need to know: 

Lists of rooms which will continue to have instructor station computers, and rooms where the instructor station computers will be removed.
Click image for full-size version

There have been big changes to classroom instructor computers this summer. Please visit the Classroom Technology Support page to find the computer setup in the classroom(s) where you will be teaching, including whether the room has a computer and, if so, its operating system(s)

Click the image to the right to see which rooms will continue to have Instructor Station computers moving forward, and which will become Bring Your Own Device spaces next summer.

If you want a brief session on using the classroom A/V, reach out to Michael Decker or Bryan Reed.

Computer labs on campus have been updated to the latest available software. See this list of all the software programs installed in the labs. In response to a number of requests, the full Adobe Creative Cloud suite (including apps like Premiere and Audition) is now available in the LIBR451 lab. In computer labs, the move to a single operating system is being addressed collaboratively with the associated department(s). The chosen operating system for the labs will be based on its compatibility with the required software and functionalities.

Why these changes were made:

As we mentioned in our May newsletter, Apple has removed the ability to dual boot, which provided users with a choice of Mac or Windows operating systems. This year marks Phase 1 of the move of some instructor stations to a single-boot approach and a transitional year for classrooms that will be moving to a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) approach next summer.

The college has already moved to BYOD in the Laird and Hasenstab classrooms and used surveys of those faculty to improve the BYOD experience. This summer we continued that path by updating computers in locations that won’t be part of the BYOD approach. The remaining locations will have our traditional dual boot machines for one more year to serve as a bridge to the BYOD model.  Click here to see a list of which rooms will be Instructor Station Spaces and which will become BYOD. 

See below for more background information about this transition, which has been planned in partnership with the Dean/Provost’s Office and the LIBIT committee and discussed with Chairs several times over the past four years. 

Background information

Carleton College maintains different levels of technology in 225 classroom and meeting spaces across campus, a number that has nearly doubled since 2008.  Of these 225 spaces, 93 are designated as classroom or computer lab spaces, most of which have had a dedicated computer at the front of the room, often referred to as the instructor station or classroom computer.  The remaining spaces include departmental learning spaces, study rooms, event spaces, digital signage locations, and conference/meeting rooms.

The instructor station computers have been dual-booting computers since 2008 to ensure faculty could choose their OS of choice (Mac or Windows).  The current computers are reaching end of life, and changes in Apple technology (M1 chip) will no longer support the option to provide a choice in operating system at individual computers. In addition, faculty now have laptops to bring to classrooms. 

Pre-pandemic, the Dean’s office and ITS had announced to Chairs a plan to move away from instructor computers in classrooms in order to reallocate those funds towards growing faculty needs, such as computational research (and more recently the need to invest in better audio and cameras for hybrid needs). This move was also intended to create less presentation technology complexity and therefore greater reliability for faculty. The pandemic made this move easier as the BYOD laptops are now in faculty hands. As pilots, two recently renovated buildings have classrooms with BYOD only:  Laird and Hasenstab.  Faculty from these buildings have provided feedback on improving the experience and were generally satisfied with the shift to BYOD.  

In addition, during the pandemic, only the larger classrooms were in use and thus equipped with cameras.  A proposal to install one dual camera kit (front and back of classroom) in each of the classroom buildings on campus was partially approved, leading to implementation in 9 classrooms.

Future of Classroom Technology

ITS expects, based on information from such institutions as Educause, Chronicle of Higher Education, and the POD network, that the basic concept of classroom technology (projecting content for display) will shift even more towards interaction, active learning and learning space design that focuses on students creating content based on information provided to them in asynchronous ways (e.g., through Moodle) or with experts who can engage remotely rather than traveling to campus.  

Classroom technology may shift completely to wireless presentation, allowing anyone in the room to connect reliably to the local projection system.  We may also see that projection itself becomes less needed as all students in a room, or all guests at an event, bring their own devices to access content, participate in polls and other interactions, and collaborate with others in the same space through their devices and the network. This final point will also make it possible for us to envision more broadly how technology can work as a tool when we are outside and in other spaces that traditionally are not designed with classroom AV in mind but are highly desirable spaces for learning.