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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 and control

Motorola Galvin Center training facility adds Panja WebLinx networked control system 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.

Touch screen controls at the Motorola Galvin Center 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

Panja WebLinx control of Galvin Center classroom from AV office 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

Motorola Galvin Center training facility adds Panja WebLinx networked control system 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!

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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.