Motorola University's Galvin Center brings e-media network system to traditional classrooms
Nation's first Panja
WebLinx installation gives large training center futuristic capabilities
You walk into the classroom with low expectations-you've attended plenty
of similar sessions at your last employer. Hmm...the instructor does
seem to be using an unusual amount of media. Here's a video case history.
Now a computer simulation. Someone asks a question. Your instructor
pulls up an example from his personal website. Another question. "I
have a buddy at Wharton who might be able to answer that," he says.
And now the whole class is talking to a professor in Pennsylvania.
A call comes into the system. It turns out one of your fellow managers
is traveling this week and she's attending via streaming video from
Singapore! Maybe this isn't such a typical training session.
Not typical for most companies, perhaps, but pretty much what Motorola managers
had in mind when they began a major renovation of 21 rooms in their
Galvin Center training facility. Media availability is massive: computer,
videotape, overheads, slides, and teleconferencing. Every room can receive
and broadcast to Motorola's streaming video server. There's a data warehouse
with years of previous slides, transparencies, examples and case histories
available to instructors electronically, plus distance learning sources.
The controls are no less impressive-in fact, this is the first installation
anywhere using Panja's new WebLinx networked control system. The Galvin Center
is so widely respected that it's used evenings and weekends as a satellite
campus for seven local universities, including Northwestern.
Motorola offers training
in every aspect of its business: anything from basic business software
through management skills to Six Sigma quality processes. The Galvin
Center, located on the company's Schaumburg headquarters campus and
originally opened in 1987, hosts over 100 different staff and outside
instructors each week and trains roughly 100,000 students every year.
The Center is one of the company's largest training facilities, but
it's not the only one. Motorola University offers training in branch
offices and other training centers around the world. According to Christopher
Fields, Manager of Technological Operations, Motorola has put a lot
of effort into electronic learning as a way to minimize travel for far-flung
employees. But they believe, nonetheless, in the effectiveness of learning
together and so they bring their students into classrooms as much as
possible. They designed the Galvin Center renovation for a hybrid of
e-learning and classroom training techniques. Though the new classrooms
have a certain traditional elegance, they are amazingly functional.
A wide array of media
Media available to instructors at the Galvin Center include a very wide range
of computer applications, including PowerPoint plus various simulation,
statistical, management, planning and engineering packages. They are
all used regularly in the 16 regular classrooms or taught in the eight
computer labs. Video is available to all rooms, from local VCRs as well
as a video distribution system used to show Motorola University tapes
and to provide satellite television feeds. Network connectors allow
access to the company's extensive intranet plus the World Wide Web.
Fifteen rooms include installed audioconferencing systems. The Center
has a dedicated distance learning room (completed prior to the 2000
renovation) plus the ability to bring in portable videoconferencing
systems as needed. For live streaming video instruction, Motorola uses
its own variant of NetMeeting that allows direct interaction with an
instructor over the web-but they also like to add a telephone hookup
to allow communication between individual students and the entire group
back in the originating classroom. Each Galvin Center class can receive
streaming productions via the LAN and also broadcast simply by connecting
a portable camera to the streaming server's feeds in the back of the
room. All of this technology makes Galvin Center very attractive to Motorola
and outside instructors. The facility is used as a branch campus by
the Illinois Institute of Technology, Roosevelt University, National-Louis
University, the University of St. Francis, Lake Forest College, National
Technological University, and, starting this year, Northwestern University.
Cutting edge controls
Fields describes the new Weblinx system as an evolutionary response to the
growing use and capabilities of the Galvin Center. He installed the
Center's first AMX systems years ago to simplify operation for instructors
and to free up a/v staff, who spent most of their day helping with
relatively simple questions about equipment operation. With the new
system, Fields is able to assign just four staff members to support
16 classrooms, eight computer labs, four conference rooms, a distance
learning room, the Motorola Museum of Electronics, the Museum Auditorium,
and training rooms in separate facilities in Arlington Heights and
Harvard, Illinois. He is able to accomplish this despite the fact
that the Galvin Center is over 80% utilized during weekdays and extensively
used in the evenings and weekends!
This kind of efficiency, according to Fields, is based on the systems' remote
diagnostics and control. The control
system helps staff anticipate trouble, going so far as to send e-mail
notices to their Motorola two-way pagers if equipment fails to respond
as required. The system tracks equipment usage and notifies staff when
preventative maintenance is due. When an instructor has a problem, he
or she can call the office or send a page via the room's touch panel.
A technician is typically able to resolve the issue without having to
walk down the hall. If something tricky comes up, an off-duty tech,
manager or vendor can log into the control system from home and hopefully
resolve the problem without coming in. Fields' goal is, in fact, not
simply to support the systems, but to free up technician's time to do
higher level work. "The best use of staff time," he says, "is showing
the instructor how to do a better job with their presentations or how
to better interact using the technology with the students."
Ultimately, giving the
students more value is the goal, "the biggest bang," says Fields,
"not for their buck but for the time that they're spending." The new
systems are so sophisticated that, despite the large amount of technology
involved, nobody has to worry about it. Staff, instructors and students
can concentrate on what they're really there for—teaching and learning.