The University of Indiana-Kokomo is putting technology upgrades and extensive faculty training front and center as it begins the fall 2020 semester with a hybrid regimen of in-person and online classes amid the persistent coronavirus pandemic.

On the technology front, Indiana-Kokomo’s Library and University Information Technology Services (UITS) organization has upgraded in-classroom cameras and microphones, among other improvements, to improve the quality of both in-class and remote classes. And it outfitted seven repurposed classroom spaces with similar technologies.

Craig Swoverland, executive director of UITS, said the school has “created 7 new spaces in the former Purdue wing of the Kelley Student Center, with enhanced Zoom capabilities of the extra ceiling microphones and active learning cameras.” The school’s Events Center has also been set up with new classroom technology that will allow up to 96 students together with appropriate social distancing for lecture classes, he said.

Beyond installing the new technology, the school’s Center for Teaching, Learning, and Assessment (CTLA) partnered with UITS to provide faculty with five weeks of training to improve their technology and remote teaching skills.

The net result is intended to be a better student and teaching experience despite restrictions caused by the pandemic.

“What we’re trying to provide is an experience that is more in-person than ever, even if it is on Zoom,” commented Julie Saam, Indiana-Kokomo’s assistant vice chancellor for academic affairs.

“That’s what our students want, that’s what our faculty want, and that’s what we’re going to give them,” she said.

“What makes a good class is the relationships formed, not only between the professor and students, but among the students themselves,” Saam said. “How do we make sure the students connect to the material, to us, and to each other? A lot of work had to be done, and a lot of rethinking about how we did things before COVID-19,” she said.

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