In anticipation of a fall semester full of hybrid and distance learning the University of Kentucky spent the summer overhauling its classroom technology campuswide.

The Classroom, AV Support, and Student Technology Services team of University’s Information Technology Services (ITS) spearheaded the modernization effort – which gave technology upgrades to 90 percent of the school’s classrooms. As part of the upgrade, classrooms were equipped with two different types of cameras – panoramic cameras, for Zoom and Microsoft Teams classes, and Echo360 capture devices. Both cameras are capable of live-streaming and recording class sessions.

To underscore the scope of the upgrade, back in April there were 164 rooms with Echo360 cameras and only three rooms with panoramic cameras. Now, there are 210 rooms equipped with Echo360 cameras and 139 rooms with panoramic cameras.

In addition to enabling hybrid learning, Rex Stidham, technology manager for ITS, said the new technology will benefit students long after the pandemic. “Having recorded lectures gives the students the ability to review the lecture, something I wish I would have had when I was in college,” he said.

As with many universities across the country, the University of Kentucky is offering a variety of learning modalities:

  • Traditional: Roughly a third of students – 37.3 percent – are taking part in-person courses that are primarily held face-to-face on the main University of Kentucky campus in Lexington.
  • Off-campus: A small minority of students – 1.3 percent – are learning via off-campus meetings are primarily held in-person at a designated off-campus location.
  • Distance learning – hybrid: To stem the spread of COVID-19, 19 percent of the student body is using hybrid courses, which use a blend of in-person and online instruction.
  • Distance learning – internet, web-based: Almost half of all students – 42 percent – are learning from classes that are held fully online and do not require any in-person attendance.
  • Compressed video: Less than 1 percent of students are taking part in classes that use simulcast meetings that are broadcast live to and from an in-person meeting to designated remote locations.

“A mix of class formats gives us the opportunity to provide an outstanding educational experience while keeping everyone involved safe,” Stidham said.

To meet student needs, the University has also increased its technology assistance efforts. This includes:

  • an added chat function on various University websites so students and faculty can chat with an ITS Customer Services agent;
  • in-person assistance by reservation on-campus;
  • online consultations and media support via Zoom.
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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs