Monday, February 11, 2013

Classrooms Get Video Upgrade

GPTS Student and Resident Information
Technology Specialist William Hill
prepares to mount one of three new
high-definition TV monitors for our
classroom video conferencing system.
Thanks to a generous donation, the seminary's three classrooms are getting an upgrade to their video conferencing equipment.

Greenville Seminary is blessed to have an innovative video conferencing system allowing our distance learning students to participate in class sessions in real time. Remote students can access the classes they are taking live via the Internet. Each classroom is equipped with a ceiling-mounted television camera and high-quality microphone carrying the classroom proceedings to the remote student's computer. The system allows the student, the professor and on-campus students to interact much as if the remote student were actually in the classroom.

Until now, the remote student, using a webcam on his computer, appeared on a small computer monitor in the classroom. The new equipment upgrade comes in the form of 40-inch, high-definition, flat-screen television monitors which are mounted on the classroom walls. These will provide the professor and classroom students with a greater sense of the presence of the remote students. At this writing, one classroom has been retrofitted, with two more to be completed shortly.

The system was engineered by Bruce Vrieling, an alumnus living in Canada, who now serves as the seminary's information technology director. Mr. Vrieling, who is also a member of the Board of Trustees, monitors and controls the system from his location in Ontario. He is assisted by on-site IT Specialist William Hill, who deals with immediate on-campus technical issues. Mr. Hill also serves as host of the seminary's podcast, "Confessing our Hope." Student Jeff Downs, the seminary's media director, digitally records all classes and uploads them to our servers for the benefit of remote students who are not able to participate in classes in real time. Such students are able to download the classes and hear lectures at times convenient to them. This is especially helpful for students living in other world time zones.

While this state-of-the-art system makes it possible for students who are not able to move to South Carolina to take classes in pursuit of a theological degree, the seminary still stresses the great advantages of an on-campus educational experience. Being an integral part of the learning community of professors and fellow students provides seminarians with greatly enhanced preparation for their future ministries.