UTO is outfitting classrooms with new cameras, screens and microphones to deploy ASU Sync for the fall semester
Editor’s note: This story is being highlighted in ASU Now’s year in review. Read more top stories from 2020.
The year 2020 is no traditional year. But Arizona State University is no traditional institution, which means university leaders have been preparing for weeks to create a seamless, socially responsible classroom experience for the fall 2020 semester — amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
The University Technology Office has been preparing classrooms at all ASU campuses for a new learning approach: ASU Sync, which will provide students with technology-enhanced, fully interactive remote learning, using live lectures via Zoom. It's part of the three options for on-campus learning that students will have access to when classes begin Aug. 20.
In all, more than 800 learning spaces will either be equipped or enhanced with Zoom features or capabilities, which will allow students on Zoom to hear the instructor from anywhere in the classroom and see what's written on classroom whiteboards, slide presentations and digital annotation tools. Students both in person and on Zoom will be able to ask questions of the instructor, and the faculty member will be able to ask questions of all students, regardless of location.
Of the more than 800 spaces, 375 are getting equipment permanently installed, with portable setups configured for the rest.
It has been a big job, with coronavirus-specific challenges.
"In ideal times, getting equipment installed in upward of 375 spaces during a summer would be a massive undertaking," said Corey Marshall, learning experience manager with the University Technology Office. "We would normally spend months preparing an initiative of that scale. So, the first immediate challenge was to do that in weeks instead of months. Add on top of that pandemic-related challenges, like equipment and labor shortages, and this became an incredibly complex puzzle to solve in a very short period of time."
The classroom enhancement process has six phases — design, equipment procurement, electrical/point-to-point installation, integration, faculty preparation and on-site engagement. The design phase is complete, and others are underway.
"Our learning experience team members and other UTO colleagues worked tirelessly to put this together in such short order," Marshall said. "The fact that we are ASU was a tremendous advantage for us, as equipment manufacturers and other partners — many local — were eager to get involved. With pallets of equipment still arriving to campus daily, we still have some ways to go to completion, but the energy around the project is remarkable."
UTO instructional tech specialist Orlando Moralez looks over hundreds of boxes of audio/visual equipment in Coor Hall on Wednesday. The UTO crew will be updating projectors, screens, microphones and camera gear in classrooms for improved ASU Sync transmissions for the upcoming academic year.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
Brothers Jeremy (left) and Corey Twilligear unload pallets filled with boxes of audio/visual equipment at Coor Hall on Thursday.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
Hundreds of boxes of AV equipment, laptop locks, microphones and more must be sorted and delivered to classrooms.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
ASU Materials Management's Jeremy Twilligear moves a pallet filled with boxes of audio/visual equipment in Coor Hall on Thursday.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
UTO instructional tech specialist Mark Pettit organizes some of the hundreds of boxes of audio/visual equipment in Coor Hall on Thursday.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
Did we mention the hundreds of boxes of equipment for more than 800 learning spaces?Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
UTO instructional tech specialist Orlando Moralez (left) and Corey Marshall, manager of information technology, discuss the installation they'll be working in Coor Hall on Thursday.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
Orlando Moralez checks out the existing instructional componentry before he and his team install a microphone signal system as part of the ASU Sync upgrade of the audio and visual system.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
(From left) UTO manager of information technology Corey Marshall discusses ideas with tech specialist Orlando Moralez and instructional tech analyst Kat Liang as they figure out the installation of audio equipment that will enable remote users to hear faculty lectures during a class session via ASU Sync.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
Orlando Moralez (left) watches the computer screen as Corey Marshall tests the new Polycom camera in Coor Hall on Thursday.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
UTO instructional tech analyst Kat Liang installs a piece of equipment on a rack as part of an installation of upgraded audio and video systems in Coor Hall.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
Equipment has been ordered for 95% of the spaces, and UTO instructional tech specialists have been installing the necessary audio/visual equipment for the upcoming academic year at a rate of 10 rooms per day.
The integration phase will begin on all four Valley campuses and the Lake Havasu location the week of July 6.
In order to prepare for the upcoming academic year, more than 300 faculty members attended ASU Sync workshops jointly developed by UTO, EDPlus and 10 colleges in June, and hundreds more are signed up for sessions in July.
ASU Sync will allow the university to enable social distancing measures in classrooms by providing in-person instruction for some students, while others interact virtually.
ASU has also partnered with a variety of technology innovators like Slack, Canvas and Yellowdig to supply students with the best online educational tools.
Top photo: UTO instructional tech specialists Mark Pettit (left) and Orlando Moralez discuss plans July 1 to transition ASU's campus classrooms with new technology equipment. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now