Georgetown University Partners with LG to Enhance Collaboration Technology
In 2019, Georgetown set out to find integrated technologies to support innovative teaching methods within its Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Two decades ago, Georgetown University (GU) launched its Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship (CNDLS), one of the country’s first higher education programs aimed at bridging pedagogy and technological innovation. Jump ahead to 2019 and the CNDLS team was looking for a way to reimagine the learning space using collaborative technology. That’s where LG Business Solutions came in.
With help from the integration solutions provider and local technology integrator CTSI, the team introduced a multi-dimensional classroom to support small- and large-group exploration, interactivity and distance learning, according to a press release from the company.
“It’s not a typical classroom,” said Andy Bukowski, systems designer at CTSI. “From a professor’s perspective, Georgetown wanted to have a dual-display setup that could support remote participants on one screen and presentation material on the other. They also wanted a more typical single-display system you might see in a standard classroom. And they wanted to make it so smaller groups of students could gather around several different displays, connect and collaborate.”
The final design, which welcoming students and faculty in the fall of 2019, includes two 75-inch, 4K interactive LG touch displays and two 86-inch LG interactive 4K displays. The space also has:
- Logitech cameras on each wall for connecting directly to GU’s Zoom video conferencing system
- Biamp ceiling speakers and microphone arrays for tracking speakers in the room and optimizing audio on other ends of a Zoom session
- 4 Mersive Solstice collaboration pods, which users can connect to wirelessly to share content on the room’s displays
“Many Georgetown classrooms have a big stage, a mothership of a desk and a screen that’s very clearly at the front of the room,” said CNDLS Managing Director Molly Chehak. “We took out the stage and the desk so there is no front of the classroom. All the displays can be used by anybody in the room — instructors and students alike. They offer a collaborative space where students can work together on the same screen or multiple screens at one time, comparing, contrasting and collaborating. In a lecture-style situation, a professor can use one or more as a confidence display, or set them up as a gallery walk.”
All of the technology in the room is managed through a Crestron control system and touch panel. For CTSI, the biggest challenge was designing the system to include remote participants who would appear on the LG displays through Zoom.
“If you’re familiar with most control systems, you basically need to leave that software to launch a Zoom session. That’s not practical for the people using the room,” said Bukowski. “We worked with Crestron and Zoom to modify the application programming interface and create intuitive buttons, so it felt seamless as the professor transitioned to conferences.”
When professors want to initiate a video conference, they select Zoom from the touch panel, tell the system where they want the remote participants displayed and where they want the presentation displayed, choose the screen and then control it through the LG touchscreen display.
“The changes we made to the classroom reflect the deep shift in pedagogy and the experience of education,” said Chehak. “It’s student-centered, collaboration-centered, it’s multifaceted and needs to allow for the outside to come inside, and the inside to go outside. Technology can do that.”