The Collegian
Wednesday, August 12, 2020

State-of-the-art technology installed across campus

University of Richmond students may have noticed that some significant changes have been made to the campus during the summer, including updated classrooms, computers and other electronic equipment.

The new Carole Weinstein International Building (CWIC) has been the biggest focus of technological advancement on campus. The layout of the building was purposely designed to include several collaborative study places for students. Students who use these study rooms will also have the opportunity to use wide screen format computers with higher image quality.

CWIC is also the home of the new Microsoft Surface Product, which is connected to a 65-inch plasma screen. A Microsoft Surface Product is a 30-inch display in a table-like form where those working with it use their fingers to control the information on the screen.

The Surface Product also recognizes physical objects on its surface and has the ability to digitally respond to these objects. Several people can gather around this device, again allowing for a collaborative learning environment.

Doug West, the director of information services, said the Microsoft Surface Product was the first one of its kind.

"The trick with new technology is to ask yourself, 'What is the value, what is the benefit we get from using it?'" West said.

Each of the classrooms in CWIC will be wired for video conferencing, and there will be two classrooms specifically for video conferencing. A global studio will be located in the building, taking the place of the international language lab in Puryear Hall.

There will be laptops available for check-out, as well as for use in the classrooms.

The university is also looking to implement more digital signage across campus and some students may notice that several digital signs have been constructed in the law school, the library and even at the Help Desk.

When students arrive at Robins Stadium for the first home football game of the year, they will be ordering their hot dogs and chicken fingers off of a digital signage menu board.

"It is a much easier way for content to stay fresh -- that's where we'll find the value of digital signage," West said.

Senior Megan Young said she would like to see more digital signage around campus.

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"I think it's a good way to advertise things," she said. "I take a glance if I see a bright color or a big picture."

Some of the more behind-the-scenes projects for the telecommunications and media support staff this past summer were upgrading the entire campus to the Windows 7 operating system and the addition of touch panel surfaces in the classroom. The controls for each of the electronic devices in the classroom are stored in these touch panels so that professors can better manage the technology in the room.

Each year, the University Classroom Committee chooses eight to 10 classrooms to renovate, as well as provide with significant upgrades such as Smartboards, audio and video equipment and projectors. The university has a three-year replacement program in place, which provides faculty and classrooms with new upgrades and new hardware systems every three years.

In order for staff and faculty to stay on top of all of the new upgrades, updates and installations, there are regular training sessions in the classrooms to teach how to use this technology. These sessions are taught by technicians and can either be one-on-one or in large groups.

According to West, this year's training session before the start of school was the most well-attended in the five years they have been offered.

Contact reporter Bria Eulitt at bria.eulitt@richmond.edu

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