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Classroom Technology

Introduction

MCPHS has a number of dedicated distance education rooms designed to connect directly with each other via built-in video conferencing systems. These are equipped with multiple cameras and both instructor and audience microphones that allow classes to be taught at multiple sites at the same time. Some DE rooms are "paired" and designed to connect automatically with their counterpart on a separate campus, and some can connect only with assistance from Information Services. While these rooms work well for face-to-face classes taught on more than one campus, they can be tricky to use with online students, as making full use of the built-in distance education functionality with Zoom requires additional coordination with IS. As a result, many of these rooms are also equipped with USB webcams to allow users to connect to online students without assistance from the Help Desk. This page will cover how to use these rooms to teach simultaneously to an in-person and online audience, both using the videoconferencing system and a simple webcam.

Distance Education Classroom photo

(For a short video walk-through of the basic steps to take to teach a class streamed to Zoom with a PowerPoint presentation in a DE room, please check out the Quick Start Video below).

Podium

You will likely get started at the podium at the front of the room. The instructor's PC should be on and logged into to a classroom account when you arrive. (If the PC's monitors appear off, just move the mouse to wake them back up.) 

Each classroom PC has the same two monitor setup for instructors to work with (see photo below):

Photo of classroom monitors

Typical monitor setup for classroom PCs

When working at the podium computer, keep in mind the following:

  • These monitors are set up to function as an extended desktop (meaning items can be clicked and dragged from one screen to the next.)
  • The larger, widescreen monitor (usually - but not always - on the left) duplicates what is seen by the students on the classroom displays and/or projection screens. For that reason, this is the monitor to use for in-class presentations.
  • The second smaller screen should only be visible to the instructor and can be used to keep track of Zoom sessions or display notes or anything else that doesn't need to be seen by the class.
  • The larger monitors all have touchscreen capabilities, which can be useful when using the whiteboard functions in either Zoom or Collaborate. Styluses can be used with these monitors, but please note that not all styluses are compatible.

Turning on displays and sound system

To turn on the display screens and sound system in any of DE rooms, you will need to use the room's AV control panel. These panels can vary quite a bit room to room, but are usually located on the wall next to the podium, or near the classroom computer on the podium. (Please Note: The instructions here will focus on preparing to teach in DE rooms without setting up a formal DE session.)

A few of the older unpaired rooms have panels similar to those in regular classrooms, with on/off buttons for the display, and a few A/V input selection choices (see photo below).

AV control panel photo

Before starting a class in these rooms, you will want to make sure that

  1. The "On" (or "Proj On") button at the the top left is selected.
  2. The "PC" button is selected on the right side. This will turn on the room displays and set the classroom computer as the input source for the displays.

If you are working in a newer unpaired DE classroom, you may see a touchscreen panel like what you see below. 

To present from the PC, from this initial screen, do the following:

  1. Select "Share Screen."

Touchscreen panel in DE Room

  1. Once the "Share Screen" options are displayed (see image below), go to the the third option, "Room PC", and click the "Preview" button beneath it.

Touchscreen Image with Share Screen options

The classroom PC should now appear on the large displays in the room.

If you are teaching in a paired DE room, the control panel will likely be a touchscreen, as well, with an initial screen telling you to touch the screen to continue. This will bring you to a screen like the one below asking you to choose a session type from either "Local Presentation", Teaching Classroom" or "Remote Classroom":

Touchscreen with session selection choices

If you are planning on connecting to Zoom or Collaborate using a webcam, do the following.

  1. Select "Local Presentation." This will bring up the screen pictured below.
  2. Select PC.

Touchscreen local presentation screen with source highlighted

 

If you are planning on using the DE set-up to connect to either Zoom or another room, you will want to follow the instructions below for "Connecting Two or More DE rooms," instead.

Connecting Two or More DE Rooms

A number of the DE classrooms are paired with rooms on other campuses, meaning they can connect directly without needing help from IS. The rest of the rooms can connect to each other, but require you to put in a Help Desk ticket to set up the connection. A campus by campus list of the paired and unpaired rooms is available at the following link: DE Room Pairings.

Connecting paired rooms can be done through the control panel in each room by following the instructions available here: Connecting DE Rooms.

Connections between unpaired rooms (or between a combination of paired and unpaired rooms) need to be scheduled through the Help Desk. The procedures for doing that are outlined at the following link: Scheduling a Video Conferencing Room.

Connecting DE System to Zoom

If you plan to teach a class using both the DE system and Zoom, you will need to coordinate with IS. This is because the DE system runs separately from the classroom PC, and for the room's cameras and microphones to connect to a Zoom meeting, IS needs to connect the system as its own Zoom "participant." To make this happen, you will want to schedule your Zoom meeting well ahead of your class session, and then put in a ticket with the Help Desk, with your meeting's link, passcode information and time. This allows IS  to connect the DE system to Zoom on the day of the class.  For you to manage the Zoom meeting, you would then need to join the meeting from your own account on the classroom PC. Make sure that, when prompted to "Join with Computer Audio" (see image below), you click the "X" in the right corner of the dialog box to bypass audio. You need to do this, because the room audio should already be supplied by the DE system's connection, and logging in with audio from the PC would cause feedback.

Zoom audio dialog box

Once you are logged into Zoom, your students should be able to hear and see you through the built-in cameras and mics.

Connecting to Zoom via Webcam

If you have a DE room reserved and you are not connecting to another DE classroom, it may be easier to bypass the DE system and access Zoom via one of the USB webcams also available in most of these rooms. This allows you set up the Zoom session and connect on your own without involving IS. The webcams will work with both Zoom and Collaborate, functioning as both camera and microphone.

There are some limitations to be aware of when working with the webcam. For one, camera angles are limited to those that can be achieved by moving the camera around the area of the podium. Additionally, while the audio should be of decent enough quality for the students attending online, the instructor will need to be in somewhat close proximity to the camera to be heard well, and sound from the classroom may not be picked up as well as with some of the other setups.

Webcam with stand

Tips for working with webcams:
  • The mics tend to work directionally, so try to be in front of the camera when speaking.
  • The camera need not be mounted on the monitor itself. If you prefer to walk around the front of the classroom, try to position the camera so you will be visible anywhere within that area.

Microphones/Audio

Each DE Room has instructor microphones that are designed to work with the DE system itself. If the DE system is connected to your Zoom meeting, these mics will also feed to Zoom, allowing your online students to hear you. In many of the larger DE rooms, these mics will also be fed to the room's sound system, allowing you to be heard more easily by students attending in-person, making the microphones useful even if you are not connecting to a second classroom.

In the rooms that have lectern mics, these mics are usually on by default. If you are planning on staying within a short distance of the instructor's workstation, this should allow you to be heard by both your local and distance students. If you are planning to move around a bit during your class and a wireless microphone is available, that might be better choice. These mics connect automatically to the sound system once they are turned on.

Lectern mic image Wireless mics image
Lectern(left) and wireless handheld and lav mics.
Tips for using microphones
  • For lav mics, make sure the mic is placed around the middle of your chest, about four or five inches from your chin, with the mic pointing directly at your face. (The mics swivel on the clips to enable best placement).
  • If using a wireless mic, be careful not to speak directly in front of the lectern mic, as this may cause interference or feedback.
  • While IS makes efforts to ensure all the wireless mics have fresh batteries, bringing a couple AA batteries as a backup is recommended.

Sharing presentations to online and in-person audiences

If you are planning on sharing an on-screen presentation (like a PowerPoint or pdf document) to both an in-person audience and an audience watching online, you will want to be careful that both audiences will see the same thing. To start, you want to make sure you have opened your presentation to the larger, widescreen monitor at the instructor's workstation, as this will ensure it is seen by the local students. From there, the directions vary by which web conferencing tool you are using. Specific directions for Zoom and Collaborate follow below.

Zoom

In Zoom, once your presentation is open, click the green "Share Screen" button at the bottom of your Zoom window. This will open up a window, similar to the one in the image below, which will give a number of options for sharing to Zoom. From here, take the following steps:

  1. Select the whole screen with your presentation on it, (rather than just sharing the application with your presentation, like PowerPoint). In most of the classrooms this will be "Screen 1", but to be sure, look for the large white numbers that appear at the top left of your monitors, as these will identify "Screen 1" and "Screen 2" within Zoom.
  2. If you are going to be sharing video content with your class, select both the "Share sound" and "Optimize for video clip" options at the bottom of the selection screen.
  3. Once you have selected the correct screen, hit the blue "Share" button. There should be a thin green border around of your widescreen monitor if you have shared the correct content.

Zoom screen share dialog with highlighted areas

Collaborate

Collaborate's screensharing works in a similar fashion. Once your presentation is open, access the Collaborate panel by clicking the purple tab at the bottom right of your screen (see photo below).

Collaborate meeting with panel control highlighted

This will bring up the Collaborate Panel on the right hand side of the screen. From here, take the following steps:

  1. From the bottom of the Collaborate panel select the third tab, labelled "Share Content".
  2. From the options for sharing content that appear, select "Share Application/Screen."

Collaborate Share Content Panel with option highlighted

This will bring up the dialog you see below. From here:

  1. Make sure the "Entire Screen" option is selected at the top.
  2. Select the image from your widescreen monitor from the two choices of screens (this is usually, but not always, "Screen 1").
  3. If you plan to share any video or audio content, select the "Share system audio" checkbox at the bottom.
  4. When done with these selections, hit the blue share button, and you should see the correct content displaying in your Collaborate session.

Collaborate Share Selection Screen

Using the Zoom Whiteboard

A number of faculty find it challenging to use the physical whiteboard in the classroom or lecture hall while also trying to accommodate students watching online. One workaround is to use the Whiteboard feature in Zoom. When shared to the large classroom displays, this feature allows faculty to sketch formulas, notes and drawings that both the online students and in-person students can see. Additionally, since it works with the touchscreen functionality of the widescreen classroom monitors, faculty can draw fairly naturally using the Whiteboard, especially when using a stylus.

This feature can be accessed by clicking the green "Share" button at the bottom of your Zoom meeting window. From the selection screen that pops up (see image below), do the following:

  1. Select Whiteboard from the available options
  2. Click the blue "Share" button.

Zoom sharing selection screen

This will bring you to a screen like the one you see below.

Zoom whiteboard image

As with sharing any presentation, make sure to display the whiteboard on the larger monitor that feeds to the in-class displays, so that your in-person students can see it. The Whiteboard defaults to the "draw" setting and either the mouse or touchscreen can be used to draw on the whiteboard.

Wrapping up

Remember to do the following upon finishing class in a Distance Education room:

  1. Turn off the in-class projector/displays. On the AV panels with the physical buttons, this means just hitting the "Off" button under the "Display" heading a the top left. On the touchscreens in the paired rooms, you will want to hit  the "System Off" button at the bottom of the screen. You will be asked if you are sure you want to shut down the system. Click "Yes." In the unpaired rooms with touchscreens, you will click on the room's name at the top left of the screen (e.g. "BOS.MATR.2015>"), and select "Stand By" from the drop down menu that appears.
  2. Turn off any wireless mics you may have used and return them to the charging dock (if applicable). Some of the lav mics don't have an on-off switch. These can be turned off by pressing and holding the "Mute" button until the display on the mic goes dark.
  3. Make sure you have logged out of Zoom. If from the Zoom home screen you can still see an icon with your initials or profile photo in the top right corner (see image below), (A) click on that icon and (B) select "Sign out" from the drop-down menu that appears.

    Zoom home screen image

  4. Close all open browsers and applications. This is especially important if you logged into any online accounts like email or Blackboard, as the next people using the classrooms may be able to access your accounts if any browser windows are left open.

  5. Leave the instructor's workstation on and logged in to the classroom account. Additionally, if you made any changes to the desktop's configuration, please set them back to how they were when you arrived.

Quick Start Video

A video overview covering the basic steps needed to run a class over Zoom with a PowerPoint Presentation using a USB camera in one of our DE Rooms.

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