How UO technical support is dealing with faculty’s projector issues

It was the beginning of the school year when students filled room 182, a 283-seat lecture hall located in the University of Oregon’s business school. Most of them were freshmen attending their first BA 101 class.

But UO Business Instructor Tom Durant had trouble displaying his presentation on the projector screen, leaving the students waiting for four minutes as he dealt with “technical difficulties.”

“My [classroom computer] monitor went blank, and then the system shut down,” Durant said after the class. He said he called the Center for Media Educational Technologies (CMET), the university’s technical support, which rebooted the system.

It’s a situation that some of Durant’s freshmen students might encounter more of during their studies. Many UO students experience interrupted class times, or instructors abandoning videos they planned to show after struggling to use projector systems.

In the past two weeks (since university classes began), CMET student assistants received 71 requests for help regarding potential issues with projectors, or requests for a different adaptor, according to a CMET breakdown of ticketing data.

Classroom Technology and Interim Video Services Manager, Stan Hall, said the department mostly solves equipment issues by replacing broken cables and providing the correct adapters to connect an instructor’s laptop to projector systems.

“Since the equipment is available at all times, cables get plugged multiple times per day and since [instructors and faculty] are in a hurry, there’s a lot of wear and tear,” Hall said. He also said that newer PC and Mac models tend to require adapters to link HDMI and VGA cables to projector systems.

“We can’t provide enough adapters to satisfy every need in the classroom,” Hall said. Also, since not all classrooms have the same equipment, Hall recommends for instructors to have their own adapters if they are teaching in a variety of places on campus.

CMET is currently working to make equipment the same in classrooms throughout the university. The department is currently placing projector-operating Crestron touch panels into classrooms, which are installed into lecture podiums.

CMET’s Educational Technology Specialist Stephanie Dupray wrote in an email to the Emerald that CMET ” started installing a more standardized design for the classroom technology system in 2013. However, for how often we replace the classroom equipment, our department just received funding this year (2017) to increase how often we replace the equipment from 10 years to 7 years.”

According to schedules of CMET’s past and upcoming projects, the department fully upgraded the audio-visual equipment of 40 classrooms since the summer of 2016. That year, CMET installed upgraded projector equipment, into Deady and Friendly Halls.

This summer, the Lokey and HEDCO Education Buildings and Lillis Business Complex classrooms projector systems were fully upgraded.

During the upcoming winter break, CMET plans to upgrade classroom equipment located in Gerlinger and Villard Halls. Currently, most classrooms in those buildings contain outdated Extron Switchers to operate projector systems.

But teaching faculty and graduate teaching fellows are also responsible for knowing how to use equipment in the classrooms they teach. During the week before classes began, CMET held training sessions in five different classrooms for faculty. All but one of the selected classrooms had experienced a full projector system upgrade.

This fall 2017 term, out of 106 faculty teaching in classrooms where CMET hosted training, 32 attended.

Instructors can also schedule a tutorial with CMET staff during or outside of their class times.  According to CMET ticketing data, in the past two weeks, there have been 28 requests for such training.

Like Durant, the business instructor who had his class delayed, some teachers are left unsure about what caused their classes to start later than expected. Durant scheduled a private training session with CMET before the school year commenced.

“I have no idea what the issue was,” he said. “I came in here last week before classes started to test out the new system they put in and it worked fine.”

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Andrew Field

Andrew Field

Former Japan Times intern. Daily Emerald reporter and FishDuck editor. Tokyo-Singapore-Houston-Eugene, but Oregonian forever. West Ham United and Portland Timbers fan.

If you got a tip for me on an issue you feel I should be covering, don't hesitate to leave me an email ([email protected]).