A/V department as curriculum consultant at Loyola University
not content to stay with our traditional approach to a/v delivery,"
says Paul Jensen, head of the new Instructional Environment Department
for Loyola University's three campuses in Chicago and Wilmette. "Our
new structure, though it adds to our responsibilities, allows us to
step back and start looking into the future, to see how we can better
position ourselves to help our faculty."
A new mission for a/v
Jensen's department embarked last summer on a major restructuring effort.
Now joined to the Loyola University Center for Instructional Design
(LUCID), the former Audio/Visual Department has taken on curricular
support as a major part of its mission. Today Jensen and other department
members work hand and hand with curriculum designers to offer full consulting
services to anyone wishing to develop a new course or revamp an old.
Though the university has
long encouraged faculty to work with instructional designers, a feeling
developed in recent years that LUCID could improve its approach to media.That
became increasingly obvious as a number of faculty members began to
work with videoconferencing and web-based instruction.
should a professor plan to use computer images, video, audio or slides
for a course, LUCID staff will offer a multimedia or video producer,
ora graphics designer to help create materials, and an a/v consultant
to plan and schedule presentation systems. The expanded department is
thus able to offer a very complete support service, and it is becoming
an important advocate for the use of media in the classroom.
Before the restructuring,
a/v staff spent most of their day, and budget, on scheduling and transportation.
That's a complex function at Loyola: the department serves approximately
600 faculty on three campuses and is responsible for sound and projection
support for a large number of special events that the university offers.
One reason for the restructuring, says Jensen, is that managers tended
to get caught up in the complexities of the delivery program and not
look at whether there were ways to do it better. "We were doing 100
deliveries a day per campus, day in and day out," says Jensen, "and
really, we only had time to concentrate on what was needed right at
Today, says Jensen, the
department is getting back to what has always been its primary mission:
to help students and staff gain the full benefits of instructional
technology. "We're in the business of offering faculty instructional
tools," he says. "It's easy for them now to incorporate sound and
video into a presentation, or even jump onto the net and show people
articles that came out this morning. That helps with retention, as
all the studies say, and adds an air of vibrancy and immediacy to
Details of the new structure
To add a consulting role
while keeping the delivery network working smoothly is a key challenge
of the restructuring effort. Jensen today does a large part of the
consulting himself. He shares special events planning with two campus
managers, who are mainly responsible for day-to-day equipment deliveries,
and who supervise 15 part-time workers. In addition, the group includes
a full-time staff member in charge of order-processing and main taining
the department's database. One of Jensen's major goals is to free
up the other full-timers to spend more time with faculty consulting.
To make this possible,
two major steps are under way. The university has embarked on a system
installation program, with 36 video classrooms (each with an installed
monitor and VCR) and 20 multi-media rooms (with computer, data projector
and sound system) now complete or under construction. Instead of delivering
equipment as needed to individual classrooms, the group has begun
to schedule classes that use media into rooms with the appropriate
Second, the department
is upgrading its inventory and scheduling database, making it relational
and configuring it to allow ordering via the university's intranet.
Today the staff member in charge of the database must be constantly
available by phone or e-mail to keep orders and inventory on track.
The new system should free up many hours of his time.
Advantages of installed equipment
Jensen says the restructuring
was not brought about by any desire to save money, though he expects
it to have that effect. While it's true that installing an a/v system
takes an upfront investment, there's less wear and tear on the equipment
and on the staff. "Instead of having ten classes using VCRs and monitors
scattered around the campus, I'll just have two rooms, both with built-in
systems, and we'll schedule five of those classes in each."
The quality of the media
delivery is also one of Jensen's concerns, with built-in systems offering
obvious advantages. Computer and video images are bigger and brighter,
sound systems much more dynamic. Instructional impact, a key goal
of the restructuring effort, improves dramatically.
One challenge Jensen faces
is the age and structure of many of the facilities. At the Graduate
School of Business in Wilmette, for example, lighting is florescent,
without the dimmers that newer systems feature, and the rooms have
several windows. Faculty at the graduate school favor a discussion
format, and so lights must stay on, even though professors may be
projecting small computer text. United's Dave Woods, who has been
working with Jensen throughout the project, recommended Sharp LCD
projectors for these classrooms. The ultra-bright units are able to
shine through the glare. "It's a great setup," says Jensen. "While
these rooms were built for evening and weekend business classes, they
are so popular that other departments' faculty are moving their classes
in to take advantage of the equipment."
Partners in the process
The restructuring has
proved rewarding; for department staff as well as faculty. "The campus
is run seven days a week, so you don't just work from eight to five,"
says Jensen, but it's obvious that he enjoys his work and takes a
great deal of pride in his department.
The staff at United are
also proud to be a part of the efforts at Loyola. Jensen says he was
attracted to United by the low prices of our system packages, but
that's only part of the reason he became a customer. "You all have
a high level of knowledge," he says, "and that's a big help. I'd like
to say we always know exactly what we're doing, but a lot of times
we have to count on our vendors. You haven't let us down. Then too,
when I call other companies and want to talk about equipment, all
we talk about are prices and specs. But your people always go a little
further and really try to understand what we're doing and keep us
The biggest advantage of
the restructuring, says Jensen, is that a/v staff have been able to
change their outlook, from members of a day-by-day delivery service
to partners in the instructional design process. Through constant
participation in that process, they are much more able to understand
the needs of their faculty. "I'm very happy," says Jensen, "when I
think about how far we've come this year."