Whittier Law School‘s old, technology-free courtrooms weren’t doing its law students any justice – literally.
However, Whittier now has a state-of-the-art courtroom, jury room and judge quarters to create the atmosphere of an actual court.
Martin Pritikin, the vice dean of Whittier, says that the school needed a change, especially since students’ expectations demand technology in the classroom.
“We realized that courtroom proceedings are changing because of technology,” he says. “We wanted the latest technology to prepare students for where we expect law to go in the future.”
Pritikin says that meant the school needed to update its current law spaces for students and practicing attorneys so they could hold mock trials and real court proceedings.
“We now have new courtrooms,” he says. “It has affected the quality of deliberations.”
Whittier’s updates are broken up into three additions:
• Spectator gallery that seats 160 people
• System that enables lecture, court and advanced operations
• Five pan-tilt-zoom cameras, a document camera and blu-ray player
• Touch screen Crestron control panel that connects to HD-V Panels
• 13 displays, two projectors, two large HD LED monitors and 9 smaller displays at the judge’s bench
Whittier’s new courtrooms are even fit for real trials.
• Seats 12 jurors
• An interface for a Crestron C2N-FT-TP4 that flips up from the table top to control the display and A/V sources
• Two pan-tilt-zoom controllable cameras
• Wired and wireless connectivity for conferences
• A user interface for a Crestron TPS-6, which is operated from the tabletop to control the video sources and A/V sources
• Wired and wireless connectivity
“The main system is Crestron DigitalMedia,” says Matthew Grisafe, President of AV Programming Associates and integrator of Whittier’s new and improved technology. “There’s direct video to different projectors. What’s great about it is people from the courtroom can watch what’s happening. It’s great to get feedback on deliberations.”
Tom Barnett, Marketing Director for Crestron, says that Crestron DigitalMedia is the digital hub of all the signals that need to flow through campus.
“You can have USB, streaming, HDMI…copper cable to move signals, fiber optics [all over campus],” he says. “DigitalMedia’s job is to take those signals and connections and convert them into one signal that can be moved around by all those different connections.”
Barnett also says that the Crestron systems installed in the judge’s quarters and jury rooms are able to talk to each other through Ethernet connections.
Grisafe also says that the main system in the court room enables the ability to annotate on the projection screens with a finger or pen, and stream live content.
“The technology this school output can be [viewed] on DigitalMedia,” he says. “You can take video content and stream it, or make the content available in overflow viewing areas.”
Since the installation, Pritikin says he has seen leaps and bounds of improvement in the classroom.
“The technology has excited and inspired students,” Pritikin says. “The fact that we have it sends a signal to students that we’re committed to their practice.”
Pritikin also says that the technological updates have allowed Whittier to hold events that normally couldn’t, such as mock trials conducted by alumni that current students could attend, and even host guest speakers, such as Attorney Paul Kiesel.
Even though technology boosted the functionality at Whittier, Grisafe says that schools shouldn’t expect similar installations to be perfect.
“I think technology today is awesome, but it’s not perfect,” he says. “The expectation is to get it completely perfect…[but] you don’t always know what you want or need.”
For colleges looking to implement a technology setup similar to Whittier, Grisafe suggests taking advantage of that technology, and getting involved with the project.
“They should be a part of the solution,” he says. “It’s a great project. It was unique, being able to make the tools for this project and making it work for them.”
Barnett says that colleges should do their research in how professors and students are using their classroom spaces, and what they are expecting to use those spaces for in the future.
“Try to anticipate what’s going to change,” he says. “How will the space change, and document those changes. Once you establish requirements, you can start working with an integrator or consultant and selecting the technologies that will support the way the room will be used.”
Barnett also says to keep collaborative learning in mind while restructuring a learning space.
He says colleges should look at what learning style they want to portray, whether it’s traditional lecture style or a collaborative, participatory setting.
As a final piece of advice, Pritikin suggests that colleges go into court room projects with an open mind and realistic expectations.
“Technology changes so fast, so you have to recognize that they things you are using will be obsolete sometime in the future,” he says. “Colleges need to adapt.”