A few months ago I talked about oddly configured classrooms and the challenges we face when teaching in those spaces. Fast forward a few months and on my first day of library instruction I was asked to speak in the most difficult classroom I’ve taught in since my time as a library instructor.
As I do with most of my instruction sessions, I physically go to the classrooms in advance. This allows me to save time finding the room but it also allows me to get over any surprises that might arise in terms of orientation or technology limitations.
On the Friday before my first fall session, I went to check out a classroom with a colleague. We found the classroom no problem but when we went inside, things became problematic.
The room itself had a projector screen but on closer inspection, no projector. The room looked like this without screens, a projector, or even a computer terminal at the front of the classroom.
No projector? No problem!
I teach using a combination of PowerPoint slides as well as live from the library website and our databases. I consider myself pretty flexible in the classroom, a skill I’ve developed over the past five years. However, one thing I haven’t overcome is when switching from a computer to no computer (how do you teach about databases, without a database to show students?).
What were my options? I went to our technology service group on campus and asked if they loan portable projectors. While they CAN loan them out, it isn’t something they normally do. Besides, this particular classroom wasn’t even well configured for the use of a projector. Update: I’d come to find out weeks later that the professor actually had to switch to a new classroom because this one wasn’t working for their teaching.
It was in that moment, talking with the technology group that it hit me. While there was no projector in the classroom, it was in fact a computer lab. Each student had access to a computer and I thought, why not present my screen in a Zoom call? Everyone could connect to my Zoom session (with mics muted) and watch me present live over Zoom. Not ideal, but not a terrible solution.
We tested the technology in the classroom and guess what? It worked. I was even able to record the session using some technology I purchased a few months ago, the Rode Wireless GOII (I asked students before recording the session if that was okay).
Getting creative with solutions
Solutions for teaching spaces are all around us. It’s important not to let these things derail your sessions because the solutions are often right in front of you. In the case of no projector, I was able to get creative with a solution and have added another tricky classroom to my pocket when onboarding new instructors.