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Information Technology Services project manager Sue Tait, Vice-Chancellor Steve Maharey, Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Academic and International) Ingrid Day and National Centre for Teaching and Learning director Mark Brown.

 

Video link teaching creates cross-campus classroom

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Dr Brennon Wood demonstrating how the VLT rooms work.

New “super-charged” video linked teaching rooms at Massey University will allow students across campuses to join together as a single class.

The Video Link Teaching (VLT) rooms on the Albany and Manawatu campuses launched yesterday each have four cameras, five screens, flexible furniture, hold up to 60 people and can connect to Wellington and other locations worldwide.  

Vice-Chancellor Steve Maharey says the technology has “wow factor”, was progressive and would transform teaching and enhance learning. “It challenges us to re-think the way we teach to meet the needs of 21st century learners.”

Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Academic and International) Professor Ingrid Day says the University has created a highly immersive learning environment where new technology opens up new possibilities for teaching and learning.

“The VLT rooms are unique as there is nothing like this elsewhere in the country,” Professor Day says. “They are a fine example of Massey’s commitment to being a modern digital-era university.”

National Centre for Teaching and Learning director Professor Mark Brown says the rooms link the campuses and were purpose-built to support flexible forms of teaching and learning. “It’s a highly engaging video linked teaching environment which is much more than video conferencing. The rooms enable a totally interactive experience between the teachers and students in the linked rooms.”

Information Technology Services project manager Sue Tait adds;  “We are already applying lessons learned from the VLT rooms to the audio visual provisioning in all our teaching and learning spaces across the University.”

Dr Warwick Tie at Albany who teaches Sociology with Dr Brennon Wood at Manawatu says the VLT rooms enrich students’ experiences and brings new dynamics to learning, which is important as “the way in which we learn shapes who we become”.

It allows students to connect as a single class across the campuses and bounce ideas off each other. “Our aim is that students feel as though they are present in one big room and able to fully participate.”

It also encourages collaborative teaching between staff across campuses and links students and experts worldwide. During its trial stage lecturers on both campuses used the VLT rooms to team-teach students with 25 live sessions totalling 66 hours without a single failure.

Associate Professor Jane Goodyer of the School of Engineering and Advanced Technology at the Manawatu campus teaches a fourth year paper with Dr Sanjay Mathrani in Albany using VLT rooms.

She says it allows staff to teach together, playing on their strengths, and for students to interact with lecturers they would never otherwise see. “It’s a better utilisation of staff and the knowledge they’ve got.”

Dave Blackwell, a fourth year engineering student, says it is more interactive than video conferencing. “There’s a virtual presence, it’s animated and lifelike and makes it easier to engage,” he says. “You get a lot more out of it, I’ve got more enthusiasm to engage in it.”

Sarah Teideman, a second year student in Albany, says it becomes almost a natural environment to learn in and “the matching interior blurs the sense of virtual and reality”.

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