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!