Information Technology Services Annual Report 2013
Technology Enhanced Classroom upgrades

ITS made significant upgrades and improvements to three, large-capacity technology enhanced classrooms (TECs) on campus this year. Surveys of university students continued to demonstrate the importance of technology use in the classroom, and faculty feedback played a primary role in selecting the improvements for the spaces.

Strosacker and Schmitt Auditoriums received high-definition (HD) standardization, instructor touch screens and dual projection systems to improve their existing technology environments. The division installed a new TEC for large classes in Ford Auditorium. All three auditoriums have FM transmitters for the use of individuals with personal hearing devices. These TECs provide new opportunities to use technology, such as HD projection, live annotation, Internet connectivity and other features. For a detailed listing of rooms and their features, visit case.edu/its/tec/buildings.html.

TelePresence and videoconferencing

The university’s videoconferencing technologies experienced significantly greater use by the campus community during fiscal year 2013. Faculty, students and staff used videoconferencing to create new research opportunities and enrich communication that otherwise might occur less effectively via telephone or email. The number of videoconferencing calls increased approximately 220 percent while the length of calls increased nearly 800 percent.

To serve the campus community and assist with video­conferencing choices and instruction, the division updated its video­conferencing website with a planning page, a detailed listing of rooms and features, and helpful resources, such as quick start guides and training videos that outline how to use Cisco TelePresence technology.

The videos can be viewed on the Reference Material and Videos page of the upgraded website.

Three new Telepresence rooms were added in the Kelvin Smith Library Room LL06, The Alumni House and Nord 516 to increase availability and use of videoconferencing technology. Many Telepresence rooms also received an equipment update; touchscreen panels were installed that allow hosts to easily dial into meetings, keep favorites, search for contacts using the directory, share presentations and set the camera angle.

High-quality videoconferencing technology enables worldwide medical collaboration

Investments in high-quality videoconferencing technology and dedicated videoconferencing infrastructure provided Case Western Reserve with new opportunities for international collaboration. ITS and the Kelvin Smith Library partnered in fiscal year 2012 to construct the Active Collaboration Room (ACR) within the university’s main library, which leveraged Cisco TelePresence technology and its high-definition audio and video capabilities. During fiscal year 2013, the ACR was utilized to position Case Western Reserve as an active participant in more than five Dialogue Cafe sessions. The Dialogue Cafe is the world’s first open videoconferencing network specifically designed to facilitate city-to-city and multi-city events that foster cross-cultural partnerships through high-end videoconferencing technology.

In December 2012, videoconferencing technology and the Dialogue Cafe spirit intersected to provide physicians in Ramallah, a Palestinian city in the West Bank, with an opportunity to collaborate with physicians in Cleveland, Ohio, about a medical case. Dr. Warren Selman, Harvey Huntington Brown Jr. professor and Case Western Reserve Department of Neurological Surgery chairman, and Dr. Nicholas C. Bambakidis, Case Western Reserve associate professor of neurological surgery, both participated in the videoconference with Ramallah physicians. Through the exchange, the physicians shared medical imagery in real time and consulted face-to-face about the medical case of a two-year-old child prior to surgery. Similar connections facilitated by videoconferencing technology are slated for fiscal year 2014 as the possibilities enabled by high-definition, digital collaboration continue to be explored.

MediaVision Courseware

MediaVision Courseware (MVCW) was upgraded during summer 2012 for use in fall 2012. MVCW enables faculty members to record their classes and make them available to students through Blackboard Learn. The upgrade allows students and faculty not only to view the recordings, but also to interact using bookmarks, discussions and analytics. Students can create bookmarks for review, as well as create and participate in discussions tied to specific sections of the course video.  Faculty have additional analytics available to see the number of views and analyze where students are viewing segments of the video more frequently to allow the faculty member to address issues during class. In addition to having classes recorded in the classroom, instructors are able to use the Echo 360 Personal Lecture Capture software, made available on the Software Center, to videorecord lectures and supplementary information on their personal computers and post the videos to Blackboard Learn. This creates new ways for instructors to reach students and transfer knowledge.

ITS regularly reviews data collected about MediaVision Courseware at the end of every semester. The information gathered strongly demonstrates the value of MediaVision Courseware to students and faculty. In the surveys, more than 70 percent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that using the MVCW service increased their understanding and confidence in their course. Seventy-five percent of students agreed or strongly agreed with the statements, “I was better able to learn at my own pace” and “I would recommend that others take a course that used MediaVision Courseware.”

MediaVision Courseware, inexpensive app transform out-of-class learning for accounting students

Accounting courses require students to solve complex problems. Michelle Meckfessel, assistant professor of accountancy, has found that students often have questions outside the classroom and require additional practice and guidance when learning how to master the challenges of the field.

In fall 2012, she began recording answers to their questions using her iPad and a $2.99 app. The app enabled her to record her voice and annotations while she solved difficult accounting problems. After consulting with ITS, she began utilizing MediaVision Courseware to upload her videos and make them seamlessly accessible to her students via Blackboard Learn. With these technologies, students can learn at their own pace and according to their own learning style regardless of where they are.

Flipping the traditional classroom

Without chemical compounds or a Bunsen burner, an unusual experiment took place in an introductory chemistry course during the fall 2012 semester. Chemistry 105, a large, lecture-oriented chemistry class was flipped, a model which prompts students to view lectures outside of the classroom and engage with problems, discussions and experiments during scheduled class time.

John Teagle Professional Fellow and Senior Instructor Mike Kenney instructed the course by leveraging MediaVision Courseware and Blackboard Learn to make a typical introductory chemistry course anything but traditional for the students and the professor.

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