The University at Buffalo is building an entirely new technology ecosystem for collaboration, with transformative potential for teaching, working and learning. This is just the beginning.
Introduced in 2017, Recording with Panopto enables asynchronous instructional recording in and out of the classroom. Enhanced with screen recording, editing tools and automatic captioning features, videos are available for students to stream online or download as podcasts.
Panopto is a cutting-edge service that leverages convenience features for learners, such as the ability to make notes that link to specific points in the video’s timeline, to greatly improve the value and appeal of remote learning.
Launched in July 2018, Webex provides a suite of online collaboration tools—with the ability to host meetings, training sessions or large events with up to 1,000 participants—to every faculty, student and staff member at UB.
This service fills a substantial gap in demand, as many community members have reported finding their own technology solutions for online meeting and collaboration, often at an individual cost.
Webex is just one feature in UB’s growing ecosystem of collaboration tools that work together and connect to the existing UB services our customers rely upon.
As both Panopto and Webex were rolling out, an early adopters program was established with a mix of central and distributed IT staff and faculty to troubleshoot challenges, identify questions and provide training and education and determine scalability and adoption. Early adoption also allowed distributed IT staff more hands-on support from VPCIO staff during service implementation and the opportunity to provide feedback and suggestions for improvement or different needs that will benefit academic units.
Introduced in 2015, UBbox is an unlimited, secure cloud storage solution for UB students, faculty and staff. UBbox enables collaboration with anyone, even those without UB credentials. The service allows customers to set permission levels so that collaboration can range from viewing documents to full editing capabilities.
Over 42K UB students, faculty and staff are currently using UBbox.
UBbox has built-in features for real-time editing, such as integration with Microsoft Office Online and Google Docs, making content revisions and collaboration more seamless. Recent enhancements to UBbox include Box Drive, which functions as a cloud-based network drive right from a customer’s desktop.
Graduates are eligible to opt-in to Box for Life. Alumni can take potentially terabytes of files with them after graduation, but need to stick to 50 GB or less in order to add new files. UBbox can be configured to securely store HIPAA and other restricted data. This environment also includes folder and account management and logging through Splunk to further protect restricted data.
In Spring 2018, UBIT rolled out Cisco Jabber. Jabber turns Windows and Mac machines as well as mobile devices into a full-featured alternative to desktop phones. In addition to sending and receiving calls, getting voicemail, participating in conference calls and more, Jabber adds the ability to use instant messaging and set custom status updates.
Jabber enables customers to place, receive and manage voice and/or video calls using an Internet-connected computer and a headset, or to open a text window to chat with colleagues who are also using Jabber. Early adopters who helped test the service include the College of Arts and Sciences and School of Management.
Some highlights of Jabber include:
Jabber is a great example of how UBIT is modernizing the university to meet our customers’ needs. It transforms phones from a simple utility to a rich application that integrates with other collaborative services, increasing mobility and flexibility for campus community members. In addition, it is a more operationally efficient solution because it integrates with security controls and campus data systems, as well as supporting ADA compliance and accessibility requirements.
UBIT understands that learning is no longer confined to classrooms. Collaboration tools need to be accessible on a variety of personal devices. Likewise, classrooms need to be designed for the latest technology.
To that end, UBIT collaborates with the Provost’s Office and decanal units on the needs of their instructors. Recent upgrades to classroom microphones and cameras allow faculty and students to get the most out of Webex and Panopto’s collaborative functionality. Centrally-scheduled classrooms are also equipped with adapter rings that allow faculty to connect their personal devices to the teaching station.
UBIT sees the need for transformative and immersive teaching and research environments that incorporate augmented reality, mixed reality and virtual reality. Technologies such as 8K video walls, large rolling screens and flat wall LED systems are all on the horizon.
UBIT has contracted with Top Hat, a classroom response system which offers a suite of interactive, online teaching tools designed to engage students. Instructors use Top Hat in the classroom to take attendance, design interactive polls and discussions -- and students respond in real-time using their phone or laptop. Thanks to UBIT’s partnership with Top Hat, UB students now receive a discount for their Top Hat membership.
180 instructors and 15K students in over 230 courses at UB are using Top Hat
Providing faculty, staff and students with technology is only part of our story. UBIT offers in-person training and on-demand video tutorials to students, faculty and staff. Our current video library can be found on the UBIT website and UBIT’s YouTube channel.
UBIT and the Center for Educational Innovation (CEI) partnered in the design of Norton 7 in order to more closely align teaching technology with pedagogy. Incorporating the latest technology solutions into instructional learning spaces enables faculty to experiment with new technologies before their adoption across campus.
Norton 7 encourages faculty to try out the latest classroom technology and offers interactivity to plug into multiple wireless projection and camera projection.
UBIT has started to modernize meeting spaces in order to support innovative conference and collaboration technology. The goal is to ensure that rooms are ready-to-go and optimized for Webex and other conferencing and presentation tools. In 2018, the President’s Conference Room and the VPCIO Conference Room were upgraded in order to test drive the next generation of conference technology.
Crestron’s AirMedia technology is built into every classroom in UB’s new Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences building in downtown Buffalo. AirMedia allows anyone to connect and present media in the classroom wirelessly from a laptop or mobile device, enhancing opportunities for increased student engagement.