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Encouraging staff to fully exploit the multimedia lecture room
2 The Experience of the Initial Development of Multimedia Lecture Theatres at Worcester in 1996 - 1997
University College Worcester has approximately 4,000 full and part-time students at undergraduate and postgraduate level. The College obtained degree awarding powers for taught undergraduate and postgraduate courses. Learning Resources are provided and managed by three areas: the Library, the Media and Print Service and the I.T. Service, who work in close conjunction with each other.
Audio-visual resources are provided to all staff, students, conferences and external customers by the Media and Print Service. All teaching room services such as video replay, screens, projectors, hire of specialist equipment and use of editing facilities are available to everyone through a booking service.
Until the spring of 1996, the College possessed only one lecture theatre offering larger screen projection. This theatre provides video and data projection, an overhead and slide projector, audiocassette, P.A. and system sound, and an induction loop. Projection is operated by means of rear projection facilities. During the spring of 1996, the decision was taken to enhance teaching facilities further by equipping a large space, which had previously been used as the Main Hall. Tiered seating and comprehensive audio visual facilities were installed to include large screen video replay and data projection, slide projection, a visualiser, overhead projector, P.A. and system sound Projection and connections for video cameras. Links were in place for computer, Internet and CD demonstrations. Ease of operation was of primary importance and hence a Crestron control system was incorporated enabling users to select, operate and control all equipment from a simple lectern. The use of equipment is supported, booked and controlled by the Media and Print Service technicians although computer software, hardware and network links are organised with the assistance of I.T. Service Support Advisors.
Immediately after installation, the Media and Print Service publicised the new facilities and organised 'drop in' induction sessions for all College staff. Jane Barstow, Head of Media and Print, publicised the facilities in the Learning Resources newsletter (Figure 1a) and circulated an e-mail to all staff to inform them of the planned events (Figure 1b).
However, these sessions were very poorly attended. The Service therefore offered 10-minute instruction programmes prior to the beginning of lectures on an individual basis, in addition to encouraging academic departments to include a demonstration of the new equipment at staff meetings. All staff who attended these were favourably impressed, although it was felt that the majority were absorbed by the size and quality of the images, rather than by the multimedia potential. Many of the users refused to be drawn into using anything more technical than an overhead projector. Bookings from outside customers represent the area where the equipment is most often used to its full potential.
Using staff surveys relating to the use of the equipment, it was found that the majority of staff were aware of the facilities available and their potential but seemed reluctant to invest the time in producing or compiling materials to use the equipment to its full. This issue forms the focus of the case study.
Within the last 12 months, the Media and Print Service has also purchased a portable video/data projector. The bookings for this reached such a high level that a second portable data projector was purchased that came into operation in January 1998 and sufficient demand has now grown to justify more!
In September 1997, the College completed work on a new teaching block. All rooms have access to basic audio-visual equipment. It was hoped that this case study would have been able to include a focus including use of this new lecture theatre. However, to date, the tendering process has been protracted and the multimedia equipment has yet to be put into operation. Much knowledge has been acquired through the equipment, management and support offered in the development of the Main Hall project and the College is keen to expand the untapped multimedia potential of equipment to be installed, to prevent it becoming just a 'large screen projection' for replaying videos. It is considered that lecturing staff need to be re-educated to develop and include multimedia presentations into their teaching programmes. At a time when the College is improving its lecture presentation facilities considerably, there is a very positive attitude towards helping to establish processes to encourage and assist teaching staff to develop and use multimedia.
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