McMahon Hall 112 (the Fulton Sheen Classroom) has received updated technology this summer and is being rearranged by facilities staff to demonstrate how learning will be supported in the fall while focusing on the health and safety of faculty and students in the ongoing COVID pandemic.
Earlier in the spring, the Provost Office and Technology Services started working in two classrooms (they are also upgrading McGiveney 106) to create prototypes for hybrid learning environments. By installing cameras, display screens, updated microphones, and other newer technology, the rooms are being equipped to both meet the needs of the students and instructors in the room, but also those who are attending class virtually.
There are about 90 classrooms on campus that will be similarly upgraded as resources become available.
“We hope to complete the majority of these classrooms over the summer so that they can be ready for what we are calling "hybrid" learning,” says David Long, assistant provost. “This will allow for students and faculty to be in the classroom or participate by Zoom or Google Meet as certain circumstances warrant.”
The provost and members of the faculty have used the classrooms this summer for meetings and demonstrations in order to test out the space and provide constructive advice.
"While we are still looking forward to welcoming our students back on campus this fall, all of us recognize that some members of our community will not be able to join us in the classroom for a variety of reasons," says Aaron Dominguez, University provost. "Through these technology upgrades, we can bring some of the classroom experience to our students participating remotely while also maintaining our high quality of education and instruction. These classrooms will become places where both technological and intellectual connections are made."
“Traditionally, our design had been focused on simply presenting the instructor to remote students. We’re shifting to a more inclusive model where remote and local experiences are equally functional,” says Andrew Salzman, director of user services in Technology Services. “We are adding components so that on-site and off-site students can see materials, hear, and interact with all class members (students and faculty) in real time.”
The room, which in recent years has featured seating at small tables, is also being organized to maintain social distancing among those who are seated. Before rearranging the furniture in this room - or any other classroom on campus - facilities staff have worked to plan out models for every style of classroom so that each room can hold the maximum number of students but also conform to social distancing guidelines.