Synchronous Lecture Halls
The immersive synchronous lecture (or “telepresence”) classrooms connecting the Busch and Cook/Douglass campuses are part of President Barchi’s and Chancellor Edwards’ coordinated efforts to improve the educational experience by reducing course-related student travel, keeping students on or close to their “home” campuses and moving ideas—professors and course material—to them. Professors will teach in one classroom (the “throw” classroom) and sophisticated high definition audio and video will broadcast professors life-size and in realtime to the other classroom (the “catch” classroom). The professors will be able to see, hear, and interact with the students in the “catch” classrooms on large screens located in the back of the room. In addition, students in both classrooms will be able to see their fellow students in the other classroom. Though the students on the respective campuses will be in the same classroom all semester—again, on or close to their “home” campuses—the professors will alternate between the rooms on a regular schedule, giving both classes equal access to their professors.
The outlines of this project were first referenced in the University’s 2014 Strategic Plan, and the Physical Master Plan, Rutgers 2030, released the following year provided further shape to the concept of technology enabled instruction to help address the geographical challenges posed on the New Brunswick/Piscataway campuses. Rutgers 2030 opens by succinctly highlighting a longstanding critical challenge, one that shapes the student experience in New Brunswick: “too many students spend too much time getting to, from, and between their classes.” A team from Rutgers has been working for over a year on refining concepts and collaborating with leading architects and technology integrators on a state-of-the-art design. The immersive synchronous lecture classrooms represent one piece of a coordinated plan to enable students to spend their time in class rather than getting to class.