This fall, instructors using a Digital Classroom Podium may notice a few improvements. While our Technical Services & Operations staff has been busy installing new podiums, we have also been working to turn the feedback we have received from podium users into enhancements for new and existing podiums. Take a look at what we've been up to:
Last winter, we performed a significant overhaul of the Podium Controller - the application that instructors use to control the podium. This summer's changes include more subtle "tweaks," to build upon last year's upgrades. Following the Fall 2012 faculty survey, the Spring 2013 Faculty Feedback Lunch, and our daily interactions with faculty in classrooms - we have introduced several changes designed to improve the user experience, without introducing a greater learning curve.
- In single projector rooms, the button of the active display source will turn red. This change is designed to reduce confusion as to whether or not a source has been selected, especially while the projector is still warming up. In dual projector rooms, the button of the last selected display source will turn red.
- Back by popular demand, we have added the "Sakai" button to the Podium Controller. Instructors can now jump right to Sakai by pressing the "Sakai" button. The "Sakai" button replaces the "Full Screen Shot" button, which reported minimal use. Instructors can still take a screen shot of the podium computer image by pressing the "Targeted Screen Shot" button and dragging the cross hairs over the desired area.
- We have added a link to the DCS web page. Now you can quickly access DCS contact information, instructions, and more.
Podium Computer Upgrades
- The podium's Mac computer is now running Mavericks. This upgrades the podium computers from their previous operation system, Mountain Lion, and allows access to several new features introduced as part of the Mavericks package.
- We have re-organized the bookmarks. Faculty told us that they had difficulty accessing browser bookmarks. As a result, we have added a bookmark bar to the computer's three web browsers: Safari, Firefox, and Chrome. Rather than having to find bookmarks using the browser menus, bookmark folders will always be present below the browser menus. At the same time, we have added more bookmarks to better reflect how instructors access the web in DCS classrooms.
- Remote support is now live. That means that if you call our Help Desk because you are having trouble using a DCP and give us permission, we can remotely take control of the computer to help troubleshoot issues.
Introducing the Digital Classroom Podium 2.0
Over the summer, we installed new DCPs in thirty-one classrooms. Larger learning spaces received a version of our DCP A1 - or auditorium podium - with updated internal componentry. The rest of our classrooms were upgraded with DCP 2.0s, the latest version of our standard classroom podium. Like the Podium Controller, the 2.0 was the result of feedback from faculty and our staff's observations of how the DCP was used in class. It has been redesigned to improve the classroom experience in several ways:
- The internal componentry and wiring has been improved to increase reliability and speed. These changes also assist the ability of our staff to quickly troubleshoot issues.
- The 2.0 is all digital. DCS long ago began transitioning from analog to digital. Previous versions of the DCP utilized all-digital signal transmission, with the exception of the VGA connections used to connect some laptops, phones, and tablets. The 2.0 utilizes converters to send signals from VGA sources digitally to the projector. While instructors can still use the same VGA cables to connect devices, this reduces the internal cabling needs of our classrooms and better positions us to transmit different types of signals in the future.
- The Blu-ray player has been replaced with a Blu-ray computer drive. Blu-ray drives used in previous versions of the DCP were problematic. They were prone to occasional lock ups and were unable to play different types of discs. In our 2.0 design, we are utilizing a Blu-ray drive that is connected directly to the podium computer. The new drive is capable of playing Blu-ray, DVD, international Blu-ray, and international DVD discs. For more information about using the new Blu-ray drive, view our How-To video, our printable instructions, and the Podium Controller screenshot.
- All podiums have document camera lifts. Previously only available in our large room podium, all 2.0s have a weighted document camera lift. This enables instructors to adjust the document camera to a height that is most comfortable for writing.
Retro-fitted Blu-ray Drives for Existing DCPs
- We have installed the same Blu-ray drives used in 2.0s in select earlier versions of the podium. We found that the model of Blu-ray player used in last summer's upgrades was not performing reliably. Over the summer, we replaced these players with the Blu-ray drives used in the 2.0. This gives those podiums the capability to play Blu-rays, DVDs and international DVDs.
If you have any suggestions that would help improve the Digital Classroom Podium Project, please contact us. We are always on the look out for faculty feedback.