Kurt Shirkey says Salt Lake Community College (SLCC) used to have “stale-looking” classrooms.
“Most of them fit the standard pattern of your four white walls, armed tablet armchairs, instructor at the front with a white board, and some projection equipment,” says Shirkey, the assistant director of Instructional Technology Services at SLCC.
In order to use these classrooms in more innovative ways, the college invested $1 million to renovate and stock them with collaborative technology, and renamed them “flex classrooms.”
The upgrade entailed making changes to 20 different learning spaces across its seven campuses. The school replaced instructor podiums, pulled out old ceiling projectors and other devices, and reconfigured seating arrangements for students.
“We redesigned the entire room, and also the tech in the room, with an eye towards making it as flexible as possible by not having a lot of installed equipment,” Shirkey says. “That’s going to limit what we do in the space. We also wanted to allow for the students to come in and use the space with their mobile devices and for the instructors to come in with their mobile devices, so we supported the BYOD design as well in the space.”
The star of SLCC’s technology upgrade is Epson’s BrightLink Pro projectors.
Shirkey says the BrightLink Pro projectors were a perfect fit for the flex classrooms, especially with their short-throw and collaboration capabilities.
“[We] put that model into our flex classrooms as a primary projector for the instructor to use because it offered us a short-throw capability, which means we didn’t have to have a lot of wires and cabling hanging in the middle of the room,” he says. “We could just mount it off the wall. We could also have wireless connectivity to the Epson projectors and have annotation when the professors were using the projectors. It gave us a lot of enhanced capabilities for the instructors, so that’s why we went with Epson when we designed the projection systems in the classrooms.”
Sean Gunduz, Sr. Product Manager of Projectors for Epson, says SLCC students are using the projectors to show content and take control of their learning.
“They wanted to give the students the ability to bring their own devices,” he says. “They wanted to create a BYOD experience during the class from the computer. The students come in, turn the BrightLink Pro on…they can share any content. When the students have any content that they want to share, homework, projectors, etc., they can also contribute and share with the classroom as well.”
Students can also use the projectors without the help of a computer, and create a workspace similar to a digital white board.
“If they [instructors] want to share that content with students in the lecture room, they can also do white board sharing,” Gunduz says. The good part is that the students can share their content from the devices as well…During whiteboard sharing, they can email it as a PDF to their devices and other notes along the way. It’s very functional, very productive, and serves the purpose of BYOD.”