67% of classrooms updated with hybrid technology

Students use computer labs in the Foster Campus for Business and Innovation while some classes have turned to online instruction. Emileé Edwards | Photographer

By Emily Cousins | Staff Writer

Baylor has acquired technology and training to help make the move to hybrid and online classes an easier transition for students and professors.

David Burns, associate vice president of library and academic technology services, said over two-thirds of classrooms on campus have the ability to use Zoom, Webex and Microsoft Teams.

“Any classroom with an instructor computer can be used for recording or web conferencing with the addition of a simple USB microphone and webcam,” Burns said.

In the rooms that have online capabilities, Burns said the technology installed includes recording software, cameras and microphones. Burns also said that not all classrooms have online capability because the equipment was hard to acquire when it was so popular globally.

“In-room technology was installed in those with the greatest need, and the university acquired additional microphones and webcams for faculty to use in other spaces,” Burns said.

Dr. Wesley Null, vice provost for undergraduate education and institutional effectiveness, said professors were taught to use the technology.

“We had multiple options for faculty to engage in professional development this summer,” Null said. “Those included workshops by our Academy for Teaching and Learning, classroom-based training sessions from our Library Academic Technology Services team, a mentoring program overseen by the provost’s office, connecting experienced online teachers with those who had less experience and a new partnership with iDesign to enhance online course delivery.”

Dr. Gary Carini, vice provost for institutional research and professional education, said in a press release that Baylor’s faculty has been given many tools to successfully teach students online this semester.

“There’s no question that this has been an exceptionally challenging time for universities as our faculty and students continue to face uncertainty as we plan for this fall,” Carini said. “We felt that it was mission-critical for us to take proactive steps to get real-time support into the hands of our faculty as they navigate the challenges of this new environment and disruptions COVID-19 has already caused and potentially into the fall semester.”

Dr. Laurel Zeiss, associate professor of musicology, said that the workshops in the summer were useful, but she still wishes she had more training.

Zeiss also said students seem shyer, and she misses the energy from an in-person class.

“When I send people into breakout rooms, I wish I could eavesdrop on all the groups at once,” Zeiss said. “I can drop in on groups, but it’s not like in a classroom where you can hear the group in one corner is having a lively discussion while another group needs some encouragement. For me, it’s much harder to assess how engaged students are.”