Beeghly to have New Video Conferencing Unit

By Cameron Godwin

The Beeghly College of Education at Youngstown State University will have a new way to enhance student learning and interaction during the spring 2018 semester.

Cisco Spark Technology, the latest generation of collaboration technology incorporating videoconferencing, will be utilized in BCOE.

Cisco also has an app that can help students collaborate on class assignments by text, phone and video chat. The technology is one of the components that will enable the Classroom of the Future initiative.

James Yukech, associate vice president and chief information officer at YSU, said the initiative was developed through many discussions at information technology governance meetings and with senior leadership to prepare the school’s teaching environment for the future.

“This initiative is in response to Dr. Chander Kohli’s generous gift of $1.1 million towards a technology-enabled classroom,” Yukech said.

Yukech said the main purpose for the technology is to expand the learning environment beyond the four walls of the classroom.

“It expands the boundaries of the classroom,” Yukech said. “In addition, all video can be recorded so that students can review material at any time afterwards.”

Mary Lou DiPillo, associate dean at BCOE, said the technology allows outreach to students wherever they reside and international students will now have the ability to take courses through YSU.

DiPillo and Gene Soltis, information system coordinator at BCOE, said the technology helps to promote cultural diversity in YSU classrooms. Students who cannot study abroad or travel will have the ability to interact with students from around the world.

DiPillo and Soltis also said students can be a part of the class as long as they have internet, which can provide for communication from a coffee shop or the beach.

Yukech said BCOE is in the process of scheduling similar-use case design sessions with each of the six colleges on the YSU campus. Their intent is to implement at least one unit in each of the six colleges this summer. A unit was also recently installed in Tod Hall.

“We plan to use this unit for training, as well as for collaboration with other universities,” Yukech said.

DiPillo and Soltis said BCOE plans to use this technology in partnership with their K-12 schools.

Charles Howell, dean and professor at BCOE, said he makes sure students get access to what is happening in the classroom.

Howell said he is glad that BCOE will be the first college at YSU to have the new technology but [BCOE] has to figure it out themselves.

Howell said he does not know which courses will use Cisco, but students should begin using the technology soon.

Cisco also offers an integrated Smart Board that the Beeghly College will purchase with some of their units but it is mostly an enhancing unit for professors and students to collaborate outside of the classroom, Yukech said.