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Facilities Technology: Classrooms as Laboratories


By Dan Hounsell Facilities Management
Students typing on laptops and holding smartphones

Institutional and commercial facilities technology, from Building Internet of Things applications to handheld devices that maintenance technicians rely on, evolves constantly. That evolution is taking place perhaps most quickly in higher education classrooms, which have become literal laboratories for facilities technology.

Take the case of Auburn University, where facilities managers are incorporating a range of technologies and using classrooms as active-learning environments, according to The Auburn Plainsman.

For the university, the classroom technology challenge includes accessibility. The topic of the tables and chairs is partially one of accessibility. For some more traditionally structured classrooms, such as those in the university’s Haley Center, desks leave little room for those who are physically unable to sit in them, says Wiebke Kuhn, learning spaces and faculty development coordinator. But the rolling chairs and tables of the newer active-learning classrooms allow for more accessible seating.

The concern of accessibility reaches throughout all branches of classroom technology. Many faculty use apps that allow students or professors to remotely control Powerpoint presentations. Faculty are even starting to implement augmented reality so students can visit remote locations when a physical trip to the destination is not feasible.

The decision for the types of technology entering classrooms is not just made by the university. Projection systems require that students have smartphones or laptops, and this evolution informs the way classes are taught.

Dan Hounsell is editor-in-chief of Facility Maintenance Decisions, and Facilitiesnet.com.

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