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A Purdue Fort Wayne classroom

ITS nearing completion of system upgrades for PFW classrooms

By Blake Sebring

August 24, 2023

After significant investment and hard work over the last three years, Information Technology Services has made tremendous headway in the seemingly never-ending process of keeping Purdue University Fort Wayne computers up to date.

“I believe the new investments in classroom technology will provide the tools necessary to contribute very positively to the teaching and learning mission,” said Mitch Davidson, associate vice chancellor for ITS and executive director for distributed campus services.

Brian Spaulding, associate director of technology spaces and Esports, said he estimates 85% of the 150 rooms ITS supports on campus are up to date with digital hardware, which will operate easier for every faculty member and class. The remaining 23 will be completed over the next two years.

After distributing new television screens, cameras, and microphones last year, this summer saw one-touch panels that are part of digital control systems replace various remotes in all Kettler Hall and Neff Hall classrooms, and in half the other buildings on campus. More supplies are on order for the remaining spaces.

“Now all of these rooms are online,” Spaulding said. “My team, the support team, and the help desk can all see warnings, errors, notices. Previously, we relied on the teacher to call and say, `This room isn’t working,’ but often, they don’t call. Now, every classroom will be standardized. People have no idea how many automated things it does with one tap.”

Each classroom is also connected to the ITS control system, meaning specialists like Kurt Towsley, media services technologist, can often solve problems before professors and students realize something is broken or before classes start that day.

Some of the replaced systems were decades old, Spaulding said. As an example, the bulbs in projectors had an output of 2,000-2,500 lumens and need replaced after 1,000-to-2,000 hours. Laser projectors produce 6,000 lumens and last 20,000 hours until they begin degrading with half the output. That averages to eight years or more in a classroom. As Spaulding said, no longer will windows need to be closed or lights lowered in many classrooms.

“We want to see the impact factors for students, but it’s also a workplace upgrade for staff and faculty, too,” Spaulding said. “It helps our team because the technology is better, and we can talk to everything. Everything has a little ethernet port in it, so now we can talk to a projector and it can tell us how many hours it has left.

“There are going to be less calls, less disruptions in class. For prospective students, we want to share the word that we are promoting and investing in the classrooms they are going to be coming to so they’ll have a better audio-visual experience.”

Spaulding said PFW has also purchased 600 new computers that will be Windows 11 compatible after Windows 10 will not be supported after October 2025.