Castleton University can now virtually connect its campuses and provide an improved active learning environment with its new telepresence classroom.
Through telepresence, Castleton extends its in-person instruction to remote sites and off-campus students.
Telepresence uses high-definition cameras, installed in both the front and rear of the room, allowing distance learners to see both the instructor and their classmates. Students’ voices are transmitted through microphones in the ceiling, while speakers distributed throughout the classroom provide more authentic sound for those in the telepresence room. A large, interactive wall panel allows an instructor to present materials to students, while another panel shows the remote learners to the class.
The technology will help the main campus connect to the University’s Killington and Bennington campuses more easily, enhancing course offerings for students at these locations.
“The active-learning classroom will enable faculty to employ a variety of pedagogical techniques to improve learning,” said Dr. Chris Boettcher, director of the Castleton Center for Teaching and Learning. “The teleconference function will allow faculty to offer hy-flex courses, in which students can opt to attend in-person or at home, and it will enable us to offer courses concurrently on different campuses.”
For students attending in person, the classroom provides an improved active learning environment.
“We added all-new, very mobile, up-to-date furniture that can be configured in any number of ways. It also includes new ceramic whiteboards and personal whiteboards for students that can also be attached to the desks as partitions separating workspaces,” Boettcher said. “A nice addition will be towers distributed throughout the room where students can plug in laptop computers to keep charged during class.”
Boettcher said the new telepresence classroom’s proximity to Calvin Coolidge Library helps reinforce the library’s presence as a central hub of Castleton’s academic experience. The room will also serve as a model classroom where the university can test and experiment with technology to choose for planned upgrades of classrooms across campus.
The classroom is part of a larger project under the Pathway to Graduation Project to support student success and promote proven and effective teaching techniques. The project will involve upgrades to roughly 20 classrooms.
The telepresence classroom was created with generous support from Castleton’s Title III-funded Pathway to Graduation Project, the USDA Community Facilities Program, and the Davis Educational Foundation’s Presidential Grant Program.