As an academic librarian I often hear students lamenting the struggles of working in groups. Collaborating on a project is challenging, especially when everyone is working in their own place and at their own speed. At my library we have tried to provide space where students can more easily work in groups and accomplish work together.
Our first floor is dedicated collaborative space. We have a whiteboard table, comfortable seating, the coffee shop, and it gets loud. We were looking for ways to enhance this space with more technology, but we were encountering budget limitations with many of the collaborative technology pieces we considered.
An unplanned visit to a neighboring academic library led me to discover Crestron’s AirMedia. Check it out here: http://tinyurl.com/lvqcv6y
This technology allows up to 32 people to wirelessly connect to the shared presentation. Also, up to four people can display their device on a shared screen. We had considered purchasing a large television and then buying cables, but having the capability for users to connect wirelessly was a huge selling feature for us. Also, it works with Android, iOS, and Windows. I would like to see more capabilities for tablets in the future, but this technology is just a year old and hopefully more features will be made available.
With a grant from Amigos Library Services we purchased the AirMedia device, a 55” television, and a new table and chairs that are more conducive to collaborative work than what we already had available. It is still early in the semester, but students are catching on and commenting on how “cool” it is. We have had to do some promotion, because otherwise it just looks like a big TV with a new table. Generating a list of potential uses for the technology and placing it on the wall by the station is one promotional method.
We hope to be able to purchase more collaborative technology in the future. I’d love to hear what technology others are using to help library users collaborate!
We actually just renovated our library over the summer and put in 11 TV’s, 10 of which are enabled with the AirMedia device…or something very similar. We’ve put it in to a new classroom, presentation room, cafe, and in 4 of the 6 study rooms. So far we’ve have mixed responses. Many of the students love the study rooms, but ignore the TV’s, but once we show them how it works they’re much more excited. The problem we’re really having, though, is getting some kind of “easy” instruction into the spaces with TV’s. How are you showing your students how to work the TV??
Great question! We did a training session for faculty before school started. Faculty are often our biggest advocates and if they tell students about a new tool then students will explore it or ask about it. We also trained all of our student workers. Our student workers are great about telling their friends. They are also great about suggesting students use the device if they see them huddled around a single laptop working on a presentation. A third thing we have done is put directions with screenshots by the device. Lastly, each freshman seminar group visits the library during one class period. We have made the collaboration station a stop during the visits.
I would add any quick setup instructions or limitations onto the middle console inside lids. This keeps it from looking too messy up top and is in an area users will most likely access. We do this for our setup which is very similar to yours. We also added ethernet cable for those who prefer it over WiFi and leave the remote for users to adjust picture settings to best fit their computer resolutions, such as zooming or view mode.
One of AirMedia’s limitations I noticed going through the user reviews on the Google Play store (also a great way to see what problems your users might encounter) is that is limited to just a few file types. I would test it with Google Slides as that is a great collaborative tool and while it does have an option to export to excel file, there can be formatting problems during conversion. Adding that bit of information would also be useful.
Thank you for the idea! It is important to have instructions and limitations of a device easily accessible.
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