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Classroom Conversations – 2018 Edition

By: Richard Mitchell

Due to the joyous snow conditions around Durham, Classroom Conversations 2018 technically took place in… 2019. Classroom Conversations, a Duke Digital Media Community (DDMC) session to recap and explore 2018-2019 classroom technology trends focused on two main topics, active learning and Zoom. While these topics may sound somewhat dissimilar, it was interesting to see how the two topics overlapped in many ways.

Jim Daigle, Director, IT, Pratt School of Engineering, started the conversation off with a recap of their research and development of active learning with regards to how it may be implemented at their new building, currently under construction. Overall, the consensus seems to be that active learning means different things to different people and needs to be faculty-driven to succeed. Jim cautioned that it’s somewhat easy to build advanced AV systems capable of active learning, but that if the faculty’s curriculum is incompatible with the more advanced AV configuration, the overall satisfaction with the environment will be poor.

Ed Gomes Jr., Senior Associate Dean, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, mirrored many of Jim Daigle’s comments, highlighting that active learning isn’t AV exclusive. “You could create an active learning environment with whiteboards and flexible furniture,” highlighting a common misconception that active learning is directly tied to advanced AV.

To bring the session to a close, Tim Searles, Director, Fuqua School of Business Multimedia provided an overview of how they have deployed Zoom and Zoom Rooms in a few select teaching environments. Tim’s team has painstakingly engineered Zoom and Zoom Rooms into a hybrid configuration where students are offered the flexibility of attending class sessions in person or via Zoom. As with active learning, Tim conveyed that the best AV solution is one where the faculty member is comfortable enough with the environment where the technology starts to disappear, and they can “just teach.” Also mirroring active learning, Tim mentioned that Zoom is capable of so much, but that designing the space in a way that mirrors the natural teaching environment (placement of monitors, sound configurations, etc.) are a key component to success.

We’re looking forward to a strong year and can’t wait for Classroom Conversations 2019.

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