Synchronous Immersive Lecture Halls
Rutgers University | New Brunswick, New Jersey
The goal of this deceptively complex project was to use technology to create two interlinked, fully-immersive classrooms – one on the Busch Campus of Rutgers University and the other on the Cook/Douglass Campus – for the largest lecture courses, which register up to 300 students. Each classroom holds approximately 150 seats and provides students with as similar an academic experience as possible using current technologies to allow for a reduction of travel demand by 50%.
The most recent Master Plan for Rutgers University – New Brunswick (‘Rutgers 2030’), acknowledged that the need to reduce travel time for students would be critical to an improved student experience. Suggestions for mitigating the problem range from dedicated bus lanes, improved user interface for Rutgers Transit, multi-modal options, and a new scheduling app that highlights difficult travel times on students’ proposed semester plans. It also suggested the provision of distance learning classrooms and the use of new pedagogical technologies, which inspired the university’s synchronous immersive classroom prototype.
The effect of the immersive synchronous classroom is achieved by projecting, or ‘throwing’ a visual of the presenter and instruction content at life-size to an audience located in a remote classroom. This audience in the ‘catch’ lecture hall is in turn displayed on screens in the ‘throw’ classroom. By way of cameras, large format screens, and effective audio systems, technology gives the presenter the ability to experience the distance audience and to engage, acknowledge, and call upon remote students in real time, creating a truly integrated classroom experience. It required close and careful coordination with the university’s internal IT department as well as with specialty consultants.
Size: 3,450 sf
Budget: $3.5 million
Architecture, Interior Design