With the start of the school year, we completed many classroom maintenance projects to improve the spaces where learning happens on campus. MClassrooms is a great resource for viewing a room’s capabilities and layout. If you run into any issues or have suggestions on how to improve a space, reach out to us at LSATechnologyServices@umich.edu so we can help or include it in our maintenance and renovation planning.
The Modern Languages Building (MLB)
The MLB saw many renovations on every floor. Auditoriums 3 and 4 had their booth systems completely revamped, with changes made to the speakers by scaffolding in the ceiling. Additionally, we upgraded the projectors, which went from 12,000 lumens to 20,000 lumens, and now have AVoIP digital transition. The furniture and layout were also changed: Before, the furniture was laid out closely together and students had little space. Now, the seats have been rearranged so students can more easily engage in small group activities. These layouts were modeled after the Central Campus Classroom Building (CCCB) auditorium and provide a lot more room and flexibility. “I think that the people will be really, really happy,” says Moni Dressler, Director of Academic Technology Services. She believes getting that work done “will really make a difference in the audio quality of those rooms. We’re really excited about that.”
Some classrooms in the MLB were resized. The walls were taken out between rooms 2106 and 2108, and between rooms 2010 and 2012. This turned four smaller classrooms with a capacity of 12 to 15 students into two classrooms with a capacity for 24 students. Adjusting the room sizes not only created the much needed larger classrooms, but also allowed for more space to include updated technology.
We also gave the basement classrooms in the MLB long-awaited makeover. The brown lockers have been repainted a fresh white color and murals of Michigan landscapes now grace the walls. The blackboards have been replaced with new whiteboards. Overall, the rooms are brighter and have a modern look. “When you’re in a positive environment, you feel more positive then. Hopefully this makes it a more positive learning experience,” says Moni.
A New Team-Based Learning Classroom
A new team-based learning classroom was created on the first floor at the intersection of Haven Hall and Mason Hall. This decision was made after an increase of requests for team-based learning classrooms. It has a capacity for 30 students, with five workstations that accommodate six people. This classroom will primarily be used by the Department of History for their reworked introductory 100-level courses, which focus on active learning and project-based learning. In these classes, students will get hands-on experience by going to archives, accessing electronic resources, and bringing them together by giving presentations. Building the team-based learning classroom was no simple feat, as Haven Hall is more than 30 years old and has low ceilings, among other structural challenges. The new addition is a great boon to LSA, as team-based learning classrooms are popular and quickly fill up in terms of availability.
North Quadrangle (North Quad)
We made major changes in North Quad 2275, a Mac computer lab. It has a new layout, with a table in the middle for students to do projects and critique work. The computers now line the perimeter of the room and allow students to work on projects in the same classroom. This classroom is primarily used by the Department of Film, Television, and Media (FTVM), where a lot of media production is done for the department’s courses. To support this, the older iMacs were replaced with Mac Studios that have 64 GB of RAM. They have great processing speed because of the M1 processing chip, and allow students to do their work more efficiently and effectively. Large screens are being put in the room as well, with amplifiers and headsets to do initial audio work in the classroom. The variety of technology in the classroom is being made available to students after hours to maximize their availability. Caroline Skiver, Administrative Assistant for LSA Technology Services, works with faculty teaching designated classes to share access to these rooms with students taking the course, allowing students with Mcard access to work all night. We also made this service available for the four media editing rooms in MLB’s Media Center. The media editing rooms have access through Mcards to give students after hours access, if faculty members give them permission. Moni explains “it’s a really nice way we can increase access to students. Some might have jobs during the day so the only time they can work on a large project is at night or on the weekends, particularly at times when the Media Center is closed.”
Other Conference Room and Classroom Updates Across Campus
We upgraded 20 conference rooms with new and better technology that are now consistent with LSA standards. This will improve support in these spaces as our staff is more familiar with the equipment. This was part of the LSA Conference Rooms Initiative to add more videoconferencing and remote work capabilities.
Scheduling locks to classrooms has become easier throughout LSA thanks to renovations. Mcard access and lockdown buttons were added to four auditoriums in MLB and six auditoriums in the chemistry building, making a big difference to the security of the room. In Mason Hall, around 40 classrooms had door locks upgraded. They still have the standalone lock system, but now the wireless lock system allows the rooms to be programmed, locked, and scheduled remotely. This wireless lock technology has helped LSA Technology Services greatly improve our service by reducing several manual support tasks.
Last but not least, many classrooms have added wireless presentation capabilities. LSA Technology Services added multiple classrooms in the School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS) to the list of spaces we support. Lecture capture was set up in these SEAS classrooms by installing equipment up to specification, making it easier for our team to provide assistance. WolfVision has been added through Bluetooth or screen share to prevent struggles with cables. Many LSA seminar rooms, which are intentionally small to let instructors sit with students, formerly required moving and adding cables for the instructors. This was a collaboration from across LSA Technology Services, including engineers from Engineering Design, consultants from Learning & Teaching Consulting, AV technicians from Sight and Sound, and technicians from Instructional Computing to bring wireless presentations to classrooms. “It’s a fantastic team effort,” says Moni. “It shows the power of Technology Services when we all work together, and our value of being stronger together, by working on these amazing projects.” With all of this work completed, the college is geared up for a great 2023–2024 school year.