First look: Jacobs School teaching technology

A picture of one of the many active learning classrooms in the Jacobs School (Photo Credit: Douglas Lavere).

Published July 27, 2018

by Blake Cooper and Joe Ferguson

The new downtown home of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences features some of the most technologically advanced classrooms at UB. 

The new building features different spaces for different styles of learning, from large lecture halls seating over 200 students to hands-on breakout rooms with wall-mounted touchscreen panels for real-time, dynamic collaboration.

Then there’s the Active Learning Classroom (1220). Entirely unique to UB, the Active Learning classroom features four large displays, one on each wall, capable of displaying four different input sources at once. Seating is arranged in small groups, at tables with high-speed Internet connections via Ethernet. Push-to-talk microphones throughout the room ensure that students can be heard when they want to be, both by those in attendance and those tuning in from another place or time.

These rooms come in various shapes and sizes—but they all make creative use of technology to enable engaged and flexible learning for everyone, independent of learning style.

The future is here

According to John Pfeffer, UBIT Technical Program Manager for Learning Spaces, the technology in Jacobs School classrooms is a sign of what’s to come.

“This technology is unique to UB,” Pfeffer said. “Some of the elements have been tested on a smaller scale in the Active Learning Classrooms in the basement of the Jacobs School of Management on North Campus.

“Within one to two years, we should see more of these active learning classrooms at UB.”

One of the new Jacobs Building lecture halls (Photo credit: Douglas Lavere).

Planning ahead

The most challenging part of designing classrooms as advanced as these is planning ahead several years in a field where innovation happens quickly.

“Sometimes we need to specify today which technology we want to purchase three years from now,” Pfeffer said.

Despite that, the Jacobs School classrooms were built to take advantage of UB’s newest technology offerings. In most rooms, recording with Panopto is easy, thanks to wall-mounted cameras that automatically track whomever is moving or speaking.

Webex meetings can be joined in most rooms with the push of a button from the teaching station touchscreen control panel, making it easy for instructors to invite remote guests to speak to students in class. Anyone in the classroom can use the classroom cameras and microphones to ask questions to remote speakers.

Get the help you need

The Office of Medical Computing supports classrooms in the Jacobs School. For help, contact omc-req@buffalo.edu, or call 716-829-2106.