On the first floor of Lockhart Hall at the University of Winnipeg (U of W) is a room unknown to many. From the outside, it looks like almost any other classroom on campus. But behind its inconspicuous beige door lies a professional digital recording workroom, complete with a three-way camera setup and LED studio lights.
The professional digital recording studio is designed to host and capture live lectures, which can be streamed to student audiences. The space is also available for research and other purposes.
Will Jones, assistant coordinator at the university’s Centre for Academic Technology (CAT), notes that the studio has “been in existence since 1994,” when departments “began shooting live lectures on Video Cablesystems Channel 9.”
Over the next few years, lectures were recorded “live to hard drive,” as classes were shot during the day and replayed around midnight on what Jones calls the “horse-racing channel.”
Vesna Milosevic-Zdjelar, a U of W physics professor, has taught out of the studio for more than a decade and says the classroom has impacted her teaching style.
“In the past, it was me and my videos and my demos, but now they have a smartboard where I can simulate anything I want. I teach an astronomy course, and the team teleports me to the spot from which I’m talking,” she says.
Over time, Milosevic-Zdjelar began to view classes as productions instead of simply lectures.
“In the past, it was just a camera and a person. They have added so much technology, so it’s not only me with my material being recorded. It is actually (the students) creating the entire program with me,” she says.
For years, the studio was somewhat of a background character, diligently doing its job by providing a space where lectures were recorded but offering nowhere near the production value available today.
As classes moved online during the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for the studio increased, as many professors began filming lectures for the first time. CAT set up two additional studios in nearby lecture halls and added features that allowed students to participate live during Zoom lessons.
These video-on-demand courses are recorded, so both in-person and virtual students may watch lectures at later dates. Students who physically attend class, however, “get the immediacy of asking questions and being a minor television celebrity to their fellow classmates,” Jones says.
Milosevic-Djelar encourages her fellow staff members to consider using the studio. It’s “not some kind of lonely place and deserted place where (you) are alone with (a) camera,” she says. In fact, it may lead to some local stardom. Milosevic-Djelar was once stopped in the hallway by a woman who began hugging her, crying and laughing after recognizing her daughter’s teacher from online classes.
Most importantly, though, Jones describes the studio as an essential campus resource.
“The studio is here to provide a critical service to the university community, in a cool way, but most importantly in an accessible way and a way that incorporates new and innovative technologies, now and over time, with a staff of seasoned broadcast professionals who have worked in TV production for decades.”
Students, faculty or other members of the community who are interested in booking Studio 1L10 for video recording sessions can contact Warren McNeil at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Published in Volume 77, Number 04 of The Uniter (September 29, 2022)