Technology Information

Using University-Supported Instructional Tools 

To provide the greatest consistency and continuity for our students, and to ensure students’ work is in a secure space supported by Information Technology Services, instructors are asked to use Zoom and Blackboard as the primary educational resources. 

Get started by watching Blackboard and Zoom training videos. Please also review the University’s Zoom security guidance and these updates:
 

Blackboard Information

A Blackboard shell has been created for every fall 2020 course, so faculty can and should begin developing their courses in Blackboard now. 

 

New Blackboard template 

An adaptable, plug-and-play template has been added to each Blackboard shell and is intended to enable instructors to structure their course content and activities according to the instructional mode determined for their course.  

The template includes tool-specific guidance designed to help instructors connect Blackboard functions to teaching strategies. It also includes links to example Blackboard courses from colleagues in a variety of disciplines across the campus. 

Broad utilization of the template will provide a consistent learning environment for students as they navigate multiple online classes. 

 

Impact of Rescheduling Classes 

As we adjust the schedule of classes, ITS and the Registrar will closely monitor any impacts on Blackboard courses as a result of these changes.

ITS will contact instructors in mid-July with detailed instructions for addressing any changes — including the potential to migrate content between Blackboard shells — if necessary. ITS will assist instructors with this process as needed.

Zoom Information

Additional Zoom resources 

Zoom offers video, audio, wireless screen-sharing, polling and breakout rooms. The following resources are available to help you learn about Zoom and how to integrate it into your classroom:  

Visit the Zoombombing Resources page to protect your class from unwanted interruptions. You can also download and use UAlbany-themed Zoom backgrounds

 

Using Zoom in the Classroom 

Cameras and microphones installed in classrooms can be selected in Zoom and used to broadcast or record any lectures or class meetings for remote students. 

Zoom meetings can also be projected in the classroom to display remote students and the content they need to share with the class.

The instructor computer signal can be shared through Zoom to display class content to the remote participants – such as lecture slides, web pages, documents or the Zoom whiteboard.  Zoom meetings can be recorded for viewing later by all students.  

Please also read this message about the electronic reserve services and other virtual library options available to instructors during the Fall 2020 semester.

 

Classroom Technology Available to Instructors 

All instructional spaces will be equipped with audio-visual (AV) capability that will enable instructors to synchronously broadcast their classes to some or all students, as well as record lectures and meetings for asynchronous viewing. 

To help ensure safety of faculty, staff and students, new technology will be installed with an intent to minimize the need to touch the equipment. However, instructors may need to touch equipment — such as the camera, touch panel, remote, keyboard and mouse — to operate the technology. 
 

Cameras and Microphones 

Cameras and microphones were selected and installed to be compatible with Zoom conferencing. 

These devices are primarily intended to capture the instructor, not the classroom audience or individual students. In almost all classrooms, microphones will be placed near the instructor’s station and there will be one camera. 

Because instructional spaces vary in size, layout and existing technology, new AV installations will also vary across a range of capabilities.  

Each classroom will have a Quick Use Guide at the lectern that includes instructions on technology use and helpdesk information. ITS will have extra helpdesk staff during the first two weeks of the semester to help instructors as needed in the classroom.
 

Types of Cameras

The University has installed two types of cameras: fixed-view and adjustable-view cameras. Both types are intended to capture the instructor’s station, so they are trained on the lectern or front of the room. 
 

  • Fixed-view cameras: These web cameras are mounted either at the instructor lectern or above and at a distance from the lectern (such as at the projector location or similar ceiling location). About 73 classrooms will have this set up. 
     

  • Adjustable-view cameras: These pan/tilt/zoom (PTZ) cameras are typically mounted in the back of the room to capture a wider angle and enable panning and zooming. Some PTZ installations allow the instructor to control the camera using either the AV touch panel (with potential presets to zoom in to frequent instructor locations) or a remote-control device. About 70 classrooms will have this set up.

Types of Microphones

Microphones have been installed so that the equipment will capture the instructor’s voice while minimizing their need to touch the mic. 

The University has installed five types of microphones in classrooms, depending on technical feasibility and the spaces’ size and layout. 
 

  • Ceiling Microphones: Chandelier microphones can capture audio in a 10-foot radius, enabling better range of movement for the instructor. About 28 classrooms will have this set up. 
     

  • Lectern Goosenecks: Lectern-mounted microphones require the instructor to stand at the lectern for best audio quality. About 19 classrooms will have this set up. 
     

  • Lectern Boundaries: A plate microphone placed on the lectern captures audio in a 6- to 8-foot radius, enabling a bit more range of movement for the instructor. About 88 classrooms will have this set up. 
     

  • Web Cameras: Microphones that are integrated into web cameras, which are mounted on the lectern monitor, require the instructor to stand at the lectern for best audio quality. About 53 classrooms will have this set up. 
     

Some rooms will have multiple types of microphones — for example, a web cam plus a lectern boundary. 

Classroom Models for Instructor Mobility  

Technology set-ups will vary by classroom. Instructors should expect to have one of three ranges of movement:
 

Fixed instructor station — 2- to 4- foot range of movement

A web cam with an integrated microphone is mounted at the lectern. Video is limited to the instructor’s location at the lectern, although the web cam can be manually adjusted to capture a different angle of view — such as the classroom audience or the instructor located away from the lectern. 

The microphone range of the web cam is minimal — not much more than a few feet. In general, the instructor will need to teach from the lectern to ensure best audio quality.   

This configuration is used in computer classrooms and smaller classrooms. 

Partial instructor movement — 12- to 16-foot range of movement

The camera is elevated and at further distance from the instructor’s station, capturing the front of the room in a wider angle of view. Most rooms have a fixed-view camera; however, some have an adjustable-view pan/tilt/zoom (PTZ) camera. 

The microphone is located at the lectern and with a range of 6 to 8 feet. While the instructor had a greater range of motion, they must stay near the lectern to ensure best audio quality. 

This configuration is used in small- to medium-sized classrooms and in several lecture centers. 

Extended instructor movement — 15- to 20-foot range of movement

A pan/tilt/zoom (PTZ) camera is mounted at the back of the room and has an adjustable view that can be remotely controlled by the instructor. 

A ceiling microphone is positioned centrally to capture the instructor at the front of the room and students seated closer to the front. 

This configuration is used in the Massry building.

These plans are based on which classrooms are expected to be used, as well as those spaces’ size, layout and limitations of facilities and technology. As class schedules change, technology is installed and circumstances change, adjustments will be made to these plans as necessary. 

Note: Faculty without the necessary technology at home can utilize their on-campus office. Please visit the Returning to the Workplace page for additional guidance.