High-Tech Classrooms Support Teaching and Learning

August 24, 2020 | Education | Kim Strobel

New high-tech features were installed in several classrooms on the Walla Walla University campus this summer thanks to generous donations to the WWU Fund from alumni and other friends of the university. These new classroom features create spaces that are more convenient for instruction during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond.

“When WWU shifted to a spring quarter held entirely online, our advancement team began to connect with donors interested in helping WWU weather this particular disruption and, more importantly, interested in investing in our students during an incredibly challenging time,” says Jodi Wagner, vice president for university relations and advancement. “President John McVay, our advancement officers and three hardworking student callers reached out to encourage our donors to give to our Walla Walla University Fund, which helps with projects that are considered the university’s most immediate needs.”

One immediate need was for enhancements to classroom technologies. While the WWU Fund has always provided help for student scholarships, academic programming and facility improvement, money raised since March through the WWU Fund has been designated to help the university provide the equipment and technology that students need to continue with their academic programming in this new COVID-19 environment.

Technology upgrades installed this summer include the addition of mounted cameras that can tilt, zoom or pan to show a panoramic view of the classroom or to follow an individual, such as the instructor, as they move around the classroom. Upgrades will also include additional monitors so students and faculty can see class participants who are connecting from outside the classroom, as well as specialized microphones with noise and echo cancellation that will automatically pick up speech from the entire room.

These high-tech features will make it possible for students and faculty to interact during distance learning and dual-modality classes in more meaningful ways.

“COVID-19 has made the logistics of teaching more difficult. Some students and faculty will not be able to attend classes in the normal way, and we wish to provide opportunities for them to continue the educational process as effectively as possible. These systems give us options for more effective learning environments,” says Scott Ligman, associate vice president for academic administration.

“As we begin the fall quarter and implement all that is needed to keep our campus, students, faculty and staff safe and fully engaged in strong academic, spiritual and social programming, generous donors continue to step forward to help,” says Wagner. “This is a worthy investment. Our students, faculty and staff very much want to be back together on our campuses, and we will be. But until then our important ministry must continue.”

Wagner and the WWU advancement team continue to encourage unrestricted gifts through the WWU Fund as a way to help the university weather this storm and keep students focused on completing their degrees.

Find news about WWU's response to COVID-19 at www.wallawalla.edu/coronavirus.