Two members of Learning Spaces Technology install new AV equipment in a classroom

By using a proactive approach to the maintenance and support of classroom technology, the Learning Spaces Technology (LST) team helps the University of Iowa keep pace with rapidly evolving technology. 

Instead of a break/fix mentality, this proactive approach increases reliability of technology in learning spaces and ensures consistent technology adoption across campus. 

“We want to provide the best possible teaching and learning classroom experience—whether the course takes place in a physical or hybrid classroom,” says Tino Kaltsas, LST associate director. 

Due to access issues, most of the work is carried out during the summer months, in what is often referred to as the “summer refresh.” 

“In an effort to continually improve teaching and learning on campus, the team ensures that the spaces meet the needs of UI instructors and students and support technological innovation,” says Kaltsas. 

Planning for a summer refresh occurs throughout the year, but the process typically begins in January. Driven by equipment service schedules, an asset database, and a five-year plan, LST relies on staff expertise to determine what a particular year’s summer refresh will address. 

“Another substantial impact on the process is feedback from instructors and staff,” says Kaltsas. “If an idea does not work for faculty members to serve their students, it’s a deal breaker.” 

The process is cyclical, with some components occurring every year while others are staggered on multi-year rotations. Replacing out-of-warranty workstations, printers, and A/V equipment in classrooms, computers labs, and ITCs across campus is common during a summer refresh. 

This year’s refresh affected every university classroom on campus—approximately 325 spaces are designated as university classrooms. Two major outcomes of the project were updates to document cameras and the inclusion of Mersive Solstice wireless presentation, media sharing, and collaboration pods in every classroom. 

Collaboration among LST’s Design and Installation and Learning Spaces Support teams is vital during a summer refresh. 

Other university departments critical to the process include the Information Security & Policy Office for security reviews and assistance in mitigating risk for individual users and the university. LST also works closely with the Office of the Registrar for scheduling needs. Other members of OTLT are informed of new features and technology services so they may provide assistance to faculty members and staff. 

This year presented a new obstacle for the team: supply chain availability. 

“What is typically a four- to six-week lead-time to order and implement equipment is currently anything from four to 40 weeks (about 9 months),” says Kaltsas. This produces a serious challenge to complete projects within the expected timeframes.”