Challenges in managing huddle rooms

Perspective from companies involved in the design of huddle rooms

As huddle rooms within academic buildings grow in popularity, what challenges—perhaps unexpected ones—tend to crop up for administrators and professors? 

“There are several challenges that administrators, professors and students face as campus huddle rooms grow in popularity. With busy schedules and heavy workloads, they may not know what huddle rooms are available or when they might become available—so finding the right space at the right time is a big challenge. When they do find a huddle room, these individuals are involved in a range of activities and thinking modes. This presents another challenge: The huddle rooms are often generic, designed for informational meetings and have limited power and technology. They don’t support different modes of work.”

 —Andrew Kim, research practice leader, Steelcase Education

Link to main story: Higher ed experiencing a boom in huddle rooms

“As institutions deploy huddle rooms, administrators are challenged with showing ROI on both the space utilization and the technology deployed.  By integrating the technology with AV monitoring software to get data on space utilization and technology utilization, the reporting can be provided to justify future deployments. Additionally, by integrating digital signage into the system, the display can have a secondary purpose when not in use.” 

—Matt Silverman, program manager, Educational Technology at Crestron

“Whether students are using them as a formal part of their assignments (think small group presentations or scenario-based role play) or informally for post-class collaborative study or projects, more institutions should put some thought into how huddle room activities can be captured and shared. Having something as simple as a webcam in these spaces will enable students to share their huddle room work with instructors, TAs and peers who couldn’t be there in person.” 

—Steve Rozillis, editor-in-chief, Panopto video platform

“As I speak to institutions across the U.S., one of the concerns I hear is related to the shortening of the technology lifespan. Technology is changing at the speed of light and the internet of things is ever-expanding. The other concern is system security. That is, controlling who is authorized to share data in the huddle space and keeping that presentation content from non-participants.”

—Joel Carroll, education business development manager, Atlona

“Huddle spaces are popular, often experiencing heavy usage. They should include these core elements to ensure successful long-term use: intuitive operation, so users can get going immediately without training; flexible capabilities to easily share content from their laptops, tablets or phones via wireless or wired connections; central AV management, so their operation can be scaled to many campus spaces and receive; plus monitoring, remote support, and equipment firmware and software updates.”

—Anthony Cortes, director of sales and marketing, Education Classroom Systems, Extron Electronics

“Not recording collaborative meetings that occur in huddle rooms? You’re missing a valuable opportunity to preserve the great ideas, subject matter expertise and vital details that occur. Huddle rooms tend to be ad-hoc, and it’s hard to know who’s using the room. So, it’s also important to have huddle-friendly tools that intuitively route video content from huddle sessions to the appropriate locations in a video platform for easy on-demand viewing.” 

—Rob Lipps, executive VP, Sonic Foundry, the maker of Mediasite Video Platform

“We see an increase in the demand for centralized support of video cameras [in huddle rooms] by the campus technology teams. Having IP-networked hardware continues to grow in popularity as on-site management of dozens of [such] rooms across a campus is no longer feasible or cost efficient.  Also, as campuses and students continue to become more interconnected, having standard videoconferencing equipment across buildings and campuses has been shown to greatly increase room utilization and overall satisfaction.”

—Beth Peterson, product marketing manager, Vaddio

“Huddle rooms are about collaboration and teamwork. It may sound simple, but in today’s world, students desire advanced technology to make collaboration simpler. Therein lies administrators’ and professors’ challenges—understanding the technology needs for student collaboration success (whether it’s projectors, video conferencing, interactive flat panel displays with mobile connectivity, etc…) and then figuring out how (often with the help of a consultant) to design a solution that will work best for their university.”

—Paul Foschino, senior manager, AV Solutions Group, Communication Services, Ricoh

Sherrie Negrea, an Ithaca, New York-based writer, is a frequent contributor to UB.

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