There are many benefits to being part of the University of Iowa community, but one of them is that there’s a culture of collaboration and we have distanced education technologies that let us broaden our collaborative abilities.
Today we had an opportunity to assist with configuring and setup of the distance education technology used for the course Two Koreas: Political Economy and Regional Rivalry — a Spring 2015 course with students attending from the University of Iowa, Ohio State University, and the University of Michigan. Above you can see a photo taken during the equipment setup process.
At the University of Iowa, there are many rooms equipped with video conferencing systems. For this particular course, we’re using a High Definition Polycom similar to the one pictured below.
The high definition 16:9 video format is very helpful for classroom situations where you want to fit as many people into the video image as possible. The camera on this Polycom system can be adjusted with the remote control for pan, tilt, and zoom (PTZ) capabilities — also helpful when trying to zoom in on a particular presenter.
Another nice feature about this system is the microphone array that comes with an extension cord so it can be easily placed in the middle of the table and provide very high quality audio for all participants.
Whether you’re an instructor, a student, or someone providing technical support services, it’s nice to be using the latest technology that enhances everyone’s learning experience. Distance education technologies in particular help connect specialists from different academic disciplines who might not otherwise be able to work together, and students benefit from these collaborative partnerships.
Most academic institutions are typically under fairly tight budget constraints. While it’s easy to economically justify courses with enrollments that fill large lecture halls, it’s more challenging to gain support for courses with smaller enrollments that appear to be less popular or important (even though they may, in fact, cover very important topics). Distance learning technologies help make it possible for smaller (yet very important) courses to share the cost of instructors and curriculum resource development.