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Transforming Study Rooms Into Student Collaboration Spaces | University of Texas at Dallas

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Transforming Study Rooms Into Student Collaboration Spaces | University of Texas at Dallas
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The University of Texas at Dallas has experienced significant growth in recent years and has become an energetic, top-tier national research institution that embodies innovation and collaboration.  UT Dallas has been consistently recognized as one of the top universities worldwide and has launched a five-year strategic plan to build on the university’s successes and become one of the world’s great universities.

As part of the university’s strategic planning process, more than 50 faculty, staff, and students collaborated to identify key actions that would be incorporated into the final plan.  Creating an environment in which all students can be successful is a critical component of this plan, and one key initiative is to increase study, collaboration, and extracurricular activities.

Enhancing Study and Collaboration Time

UT Dallas involved student government to learn what additional resources would benefit students most to enhance their on-campus experience.  One common request from students was having spaces where they could collaborate on school projects and record presentations.  After reviewing the request and current student spaces available, UT Dallas realized only one space on campus met this specific need, prompting the search for a solution.

The Eugene McDermott Library has 18 study rooms designed to accommodate small groups of four to eight students.  Each study room is equipped with whiteboards, a table, and chairs.  The university decided to renovate two of the library study rooms into “smart rooms.”

To begin the renovation process, the library and the Office of Information Technology (OIT) created three groups, which included student input, to present ideas of what the rooms should look like.  The renovation team then identified a list of usability and technology requirements and reached out to their technology partners in the community.

All-In-One Solution

Today’s college students are more tech-savvy than ever and staying connected is a central part of their lives.  Taurus Technologies understands these needs and the university’s desire for ease of use and support.

Taurus collaborated with its key partners to propose an all-in-one solution and invited the UTD team for a demonstration. Seeing the recommendation in action demonstrated the power of the solution and exceeded UT Dallas’ expectation by providing a powerful collaboration solution for students.

Taurus recommended replacing the whiteboards with 70” Newline TRUTOUCH interactive displays, which include built-in whiteboard capabilities with onscreen annotation tools.  The TRUTOUCH wirelessly connects with multiple Windows, IOS and Android devices, making it ideal for the BYOD college student.  In addition, the TRUTOUCH offers built-in 1080p wide-angle cameras to ensure maximum visibility coupled with noise reduction and echo cancellation audio capabilities to provide a powerful video and audio solution.

To address the presentation needs of the students, Taurus recommended the Mersive Solstice Pod, which offers wireless connectivity tools to share and collaborate content online from multiple users, including remote connections.  The Solstice Pod lets students work effortlessly together on projects with the confidence of a truly collaborative outcome.

The TRUTOUCH display and the Solstice Pod were mounted to the height adjustable DynamiQ Wall Stand from AVTEQ, Inc. The easy glide mount lets students adjust the height of the display, making it ideal to meet ADA compliance required for the smart rooms in the library.  The 3RU of vertical rack space and cable management features provide easy access for the technology, though locking access for unauthorized personnel.

Smart Rooms in Action

The renovations of the Armadillo Room on the second floor of the library and the Jalapeño Room on the third floor give students a new place to engage in presentations and class projects. The shared system allows wireless connections of laptops, tablets, and smartphones for collaborating and saving files created during a study session.  The university decided to upgrade the display in the Armadillo Room to include the cameras, allowing students to record videos to share for class presentations.

The demand for these rooms has been quite overwhelming. I could book twice, maybe three times as many rooms as we have, so to be able to use these rooms in this capacity is great, and I think as more students use this equipment, they’re going to want all of the library’s study rooms to be equipped with the technology that is now in the smart rooms,” Dr. Ellen Safley, Dean of the Eugene McDermott Library said.

Within the first few months of opening the newly renovated smart rooms, the rooms have been used over 900 times, with no technical issues.  The university is now able to address the needs of more students and has high expectations for future use and expansion.

“We were happy for the opportunity to work with UTD and develop a unique, yet simple to use, collaboration system for the Library,” said Robert Parsons, Vice President of Sales at Taurus Technologies. “One of our primary goals is to provide solutions that users can benefit from in an easy-to-use and intuitive package. This project is just that, a fully interactive product that meets the needs of all students, whether they are someone wanting to storyboard their ideas on the touch screen or video conference with their peers, potential employers and others.”