Founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1846, Saint Xavier University was the first Mercy college in the United States and is Chicago’s oldest Catholic university. The University serves more than 4,000 students at the Chicago and Orland Park campuses, and its Loop location as well as the Gilbert, Arizona location and offers the following: 43 undergraduate programs; 25 graduate program options in arts and sciences, business, education and nursing; and a variety of program options in continuing and adult education. Recognizing Saint Xavier’s excellence in education, U.S. News and World Report has ranked SXU consistently among the Best Colleges in the Midwest.
Saint Xavier University, based in Chicago, IL, was determined to break the mold of typical informal and formal learning spaces by creating student-centered collaborative learning spaces that allowed students to move beyond consuming information and to become curators and creators of ideas, concepts and data. In an effort to solve this issue Saint Xavier hired Level 3 Audiovisual to assist with the design of collaborative technology systems for its campus being built in Gilbert, AZ. “It was our strategic goal to shift the instructor-student relationship by designing learning spaces that put the student at the center of the learning experience.” – Dr. Chris Zakrzewski, Assistant Provost for Technology and Instructional Innovation.
Saint Xavier had five major aspects of this brand new campus:
Level 3 AV was tasked with finding the right blend of audio visual equipment for campus wide collaboration in each of its classrooms, nine collaboration learning studios, five nursing simulation labs and 3 control rooms. The campus also wanted a 16 foot mosaic architectural video wall in the main entrance to wow students, faculty and visitors. To top it off, the school wanted a 40 foot wide, seamless projection screen in their 250 seat auditorium that could provide real time, multi-windowed video sources as well as BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) sharing for remote and untethered collaboration with remote guests and the SXU Chicago campus.
The key component to satisfying the schools need for collaborative huddle spaces is the Christie Brio, a wireless presentation and collaboration solution that enables teachers and students to wirelessly present, share and interact with each other within the same room, across campus or across the country. Saint Xavier initially installed Christie Brios onto their Chicago campus with overwhelmingly positive results and greatly increased their use on the Gilbert, AZ campus. The design concept behind the 9 collaborative learning studios is quite simple. A typical room consists of anywhere from 4 to 7 wall mounted LED displays around the room, each creating an independent huddle space. At each huddle space, the users have the choice to
connect to the display through a hard wired connection or wirelessly via the Brio puck mounted behind the LED display. Groups at each huddle space can work independently of each other or with assigned groups within the space, campus or country depending on administrative assignment. The instructor can ‘take control’ of any huddle group at any time and focus attention to a relevant issue or idea. They can also select and display any connected device (a student’s iPad for example) and share that information to all groups, or revert the group back to an instructor led course.
“There is a paradigm shift happening in education where we are moving from the professor disseminating information to students to the professor being more of a facilitator of learning. The learning studios allow us to move from theory to practice. Professors are able to present new information to the class as a whole, but then quickly rearrange the room so that they can facilitate more interpersonal interactions with the students and foster student-to-student collaborations within the class. The twist is that the student-to-student collaborations are now incorporating the students’ mobile devices, as each student is able to easily share the screen of their own device with the group as they collaborate. This makes the collaborations much more meaningful.”
– Dr. Julie Reinhart, Professor, School of Education, Chair, Educational Technology Program, Director, STEM Education Center
Although the concept and approach to this collaborative capability seemed quite achievable, there was a major challenge in the fact that the control application for this level of collaborative sharing had not yet been developed. Never one to back down from a challenge, Level 3 Audiovisual software developers dug in and worked with the manufacturer for over four months to develop the logic and make sure everything worked. The end result; a single user interface, through the Crestron control system, that provides the instructors complete control of their room, its devices and collaborative device administration.
The University is ecstatic with the results and the instructors using the systems couldn’t be happier. Dr. Zakrzewski expressed it simply by saying “They just work”, which ultimately, is exactly what we strive to achieve at Level 3 Audiovisual with campus wide integration.
“The learning studios help faculty to create instructional moments for students to help them identify how their devices and technological tools bridge the classroom to the broader world in terms of civic life, everyday interactions, and the workplace. These connections showcase the critical thinking skills required of succeeding in a technological and social world and assist students in recognizing that technology and internet access and use is about more than entertainment.”
– Dr. Renee Robinson, Professor, Department of Communication
Saint Xavier School of Nursing, a National League for Nursing Center of Excellence, a designation held by only 17 schools in the nation had been looking for a design-assist partner to provide and integrate technology into their new simulation center at their Gilbert, AZ campus. Level 3 Audiovisual was selected for this project based upon their extensive knowledge in Simulation Center design and technology integration.
For this particular project, we were asked to design and provide technology for five simulation rooms all tied into three separate control rooms. Saint Xavier’s simulation center is state of the art using Gaumard and Laerdal simulators, KB Port video capture recording/debriefing software and a highly customized Crestron control system to provide a simple user interface and ease of use. Each simulation room is equipped with two ceiling mounted cameras for different recording angles, ceiling mounted microphones for audio pickup, two separate speaker systems, one for the voice of the mannequin and one for overhead announcements, all to create a realistic environment to the students in training. The fully integrated, state-of-the-art simulation center at the Gilbert, AZ campus gives Saint Xavier the ability to be highly competitive not only in nursing simulation and healthcare training, but in the healthcare field as a whole.
“The Gilbert, Arizona campus reflects the teaching pedagogy of nursing faculty. We are able to bring the patient and community into the learning studio transforming our deliver y of course objectives within an interactive environment.”
– Barbara Gawron, RN, DNP, CNE, CHSE, Director of Nursing Resource and Simulation Center
A creative and technologically artistic element of this project is a custom designed 16 foot Planar mosaic video wall located at the entrance of the building. It utilizes 19 strategically placed and varyingly sized LED panels to create a “wow” factor for students, faculty and visitors. The design of this video wall is completely unique to Saint Xavier. The school uses the video wall to show custom 4k video content made by students from local art programs as well as stunning photographs from around the world. The visual imagery and experience of this artistic feature, near the entrance to the building, gives visitors a glimpse into the overall level of technology incorporated into the building. This was a major goal of Saint Xavier’s which they achieved beyond what they had imagined.
One of the more impressive elements of technology integrated into Saint Xavier’s Auditorium is a three projector, blended video capability projected onto a 40’ wide projection screen. This blended video system displays up to 4 different video sources, in varying window sizes, on the screen at the same time. The Auditorium also features collaboration capabilities allowing participants within the room to share their device wirelessly, as well as share and receive content from remote locations for overflow or distance learning. Whether it’s an Apple, PC or Android device, users in the auditorium can connect wirelessly to the projection system. The content can be shared on the blended projection system, throughout the campus or remotely to the Chicago campus with the touch of a button the lectern. As with all Level 3 Audiovisual projects, Saint Xavier is fully supported by our experienced service department. We continue to work with Saint Xavier to bring new technological advances and support hem in our on-going challenge to create a stunning, immersive and hands on learning experience for generations of students to come.