Installation of Simulcast capabilities in close to 50% of generally scheduled classrooms is almost complete. Simulcast classrooms help make it possible to offer more flexible and engaging methods of hybrid and hyflex instruction.
With Simulcast, a mix of students attend class live and remotely at the same time, with comparable interactive experiences using livestreaming and video conferencing. The rooms are equipped with technologies such as interactive video, whiteboard capture designed for both in-person and virtual class participation, multi-screen layouts that facilitate virtual and in-person student conversation, ambient microphones that capture voices without the need to wear or hold a mic and playback of class recordings with annotation. Simulcast technologies have been installed in more than 170 generally scheduled classrooms, with around 30 more scheduled to receive the updates this semester.
Previous uses of Simulcast included offering courses that had been campus-specific to students at multiple Perimeter College campuses by providing a single space from which an instructor could teach across multiple classrooms and campuses at once. The model was also used to enable graduate students to choose how to experience certain programs, on campus or from other locations using their personal computers. Simulcast became increasingly visible during the COVID-19 pandemic, when flexibility in learning models became essential to react to changing circumstances, but the model has benefits beyond the pandemic.
“Simulcast courses are designed to give students the convenience and flexibility of location available in an online course with the real-time engagement of an in-person course. By making participation more scalable in high-demand courses, Simulcast can help alleviate issues such as availability of experienced faculty or right-sized room limitations and other bottlenecks that can keep students from progressing in their degrees on time,” says Lee Webster, Director for Learning and Production Environments for Instructional Innovation and Technology. He adds, “This style of teaching may have a number of benefits as a viable scaled teaching model with effective student learning, which we’re researching as more courses are offered.”
Expanding Simulcast Teaching and Research
A pilot studying how Simulcast affects the student learning experience has expanded to include seven courses that allow more than 250 students to attend virtually classes they need to progress. Courses within the pilot have two cross-listed sections tied to the same course offering. Students who choose the simulcast model, enroll in a section where they virtually attend scheduled classes that take place live from a classroom in addition to engaging in online elements outside of class.
Graduate teaching assistants help assist with facilitating virtual interactions to make sure students joining online can participate equally to those attending in person.
Faculty teaching courses in the fall pilot include:
- Ben McGimsey, Physics and Astronomy, COAS
Life in the Universe (ASTR 1500)
- Jacobus Boers, International Business, RCB
Business, Value, and You (BUSA 1105)
- Scottie Ross, Business, Perimeter
Business, Value, and You (BUSA 1105)
- Aaron Hillengrass, Computer Science, COAS
Fundamentals of Data Science (CSC 4780)
- Caroline McClure, Geosciences, COAS
Introduction to Landforms (GEOG 1113)
- Jeffrey Young, History, COAS
Survey of United States History (HIST 2110)
- Holloway Sparks, Political Science, COAS
Introduction to American Government (POLS 1101)
- Barbara Robertson, Political Science, Perimeter College
Global Issues (POLS 2401)
The Center for Excellence in Teaching, Learning and Online Education is assisting in a study of the effectiveness of Simulcast classes as well as analyzing how students interact with new classroom technologies.
A Faculty Perspective
Jacobus Boers has taught Business, Value and You (BUSA 1105) in both online and in-person formats in past semesters. This semester, he is teaching it in a combined format using a simulcast classroom. This is the third course he has taught in the format. He offers an experienced perspective on how simulcast classes can add to the teaching and learning experience.
What’s the experience of teaching a simulcast class in comparison to in-person alone?
This format offers flexibility to an instructor when students are regularly needing to move online, such as for health reasons during COVID-19 or for professional and personal reasons like travel, work or family needs. In a large class, this can be critical in managing unplanned student attendance disruptions, student engagement during class and allowing a student to progress when “life happens.”