To enable high-quality remote teaching and learning for its faculty and students, Cal State San Bernardino has upgraded nearly 300 classrooms at both the San Bernardino and Palm Desert campuses with leading-edge audio-visual communication technology.

The Next Generation Smart Classroom project (NGSC) is a collaboration between the university’s Information Technology Services (ITS) and CSUSB faculty to provide students with access to classrooms at the cutting edge of the current education environment.

To take advantage of this upgrade, faculty are being provided with detailed information and training on how to use these new tools to provide a state-of-the-art hybrid (in-person and virtual) teaching/learning experience through the newly designed NGSC Cosynchronous Teaching Program.

“The NGSC classrooms have created the flexibility in teaching/learning modalities that our faculty and students were looking for in the post COVID environment, so that the institution can meet our students where they need us,” said Sam Sudhakar, ITS vice president.

CSUSB President Tomás D. Morales applauded the collegial process and the effective way in which the project is being unrolled.

CSUSB views our students as deserving of the best possible educational facilities to enhance the excellence of its teaching,” he said. “The NGSC project, along with its supportive Cosynchronous Teaching Program, are on track to do exactly that. We continue to define the future for our students right here in the Inland Empire, where they live and work.”

After a virtual teaching and working experience dictated by the pandemic, university leaders recognized that how instruction is provided is being re-shaped in real time. The large-scale NGSC initiative is the result. The new audio-visual communication-equipped classrooms now provide faculty with flexible options of teaching face-to-face or online. Holding classes in these spaces offer students the option of coming to class in person or attending virtually.

Equipment upgrades included: ceiling-mounted professional grade PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) video cameras with instructor-controlled framing; a ceiling-mounted microphone with “beam-forming” processing technology which isolates and clarifies the sound of the instructor’s voice; touch-screen podium-top monitors; and easy-to-use control panels to facilitate faculty’s effective use of the new system, said Bradford Owen, director of CSUSB’s Academic Technologies & Innovation.

The NGSC Cosynchronous Teaching Program provides tenure-line faculty and lecturers a $1,500 stipend for undertaking on-site training in the effective use of the new NGSC equipment along with two self-guided courses. Participants must also agree to implement cosynchronous best practices when they next teach in an NGSC room by allowing students who must participate remotely to Zoom into the live classroom meeting, Owen said.

To date, almost 200 faculty are participating in the NGSC Cosynchronous Teaching Program, which will mean that thousands of CSUSB’s students will be offered a flexible and effective instructional option when they are unable to attend class in person.

For more information, visit the Next Generation Smart Classrooms website.