It helps to keep an open mind, but it is not always easy changing direction at the last minute. Ron Lee of Oral Roberts University shared this story of how a late change in direction paid off at Oral Roberts University.
In the Fall of 2017, the College of Business approached the IT department at Oral Roberts University with a request. They wanted to create a collaborative learning space from an old computer lab. Space where content could be shared within and between separate groups of students. Ron and the IT team designed a traditional AV solution to meet their needs. An expensive and complicated solution with a sophisticated user interface.
In early November, near the end of the Semester, Ron attended Educause in Philadelphia and saw a demonstration of weConnect. He quickly realized that this was a better solution. Even if it could only deliver half of what was claimed, it would meet the needs of the College and be simpler to implement and easier to use.
Implementation of the previous design was scheduled for early January, only a few short weeks away.
Ron faced a dilemma, should he proceed as planned or risk something new and unfamiliar – a cloud-based software solution with a subscription payment model? Founded in 1963, Oral Roberts University (ORU) has a proud record of innovation in the use of educational technology. And with the help of a forward-looking and supportive VP of Innovation and Technology, he made a case for a last-minute change of direction.
Barco agreed to help. Loan equipment was provided, and a single Semester trial arranged to help ORU decide whether weConnect met their needs.
Minimizing the risk helped win over the College of Business. It took just two days to install, and setup weConnect, and the trial was a great success.
The implementation went very smoothly, and weConnect delivered far more than they expected.
Faculty members have embraced the new technology. They say it is a modern approach to education. Its main benefit has been increased student engagement. Different classes use different facets and features of the technology. It’s proven to be the ideal platform for sharing multimedia content in the Digital Marketing course and perfect for getting close to the detail of spreadsheet formulas in Accounting classes. Overall, it’s been an “eye-opener” in terms of fostering discussion between students.
The project was very much a team effort, with Facilities, IT, the AV Integrator, and the College of Business all playing a pivotal role. When asked directly what was the secret of success, Ron put this down to ORU’s focus on innovation. Oral Roberts University was a pioneer of EdTech in the 1960s, and it’s in their DNA. People at ORU are always willing to try new things, and this gave him the confidence to approach his boss at the “11th hour” with a request to change direction. Ron has learned to like cloud-based solutions. His advice to others is that they too should embrace new technologies and new ways of doing things.
Following the success of the collaborative learning lab, other departments have taken a keen interest, and Oral Roberts University is now considering adding further collaborative learning spaces and creating virtual and hybrid classrooms.
Keeping an open mind has really helped to open the minds of students at ORU.