CSU Nickerson Conference Room: Enhancing Hybrid Meetings with Innovative Zoom Technology


The virtual meeting technology in the Nickerson Conference Room (CSU 238) recently received a big transformation, thanks to an exciting collaboration between the Centennial Student Union and IT Solutions. This room is frequently used for many different purposes, including meetings, conferences, student government, orientation sessions, and more.  

The project was sparked by the CSU with the idea to create better meetings for all participants. The team at IT Solutions was excited to explore the capabilities of Zoom technology in this unique room. The large size of the room and the existing roundtable layout created an excellent opportunity to design a new and innovative solution. The end-goal was to blend the online and face-to-face experience more seamlessly while making the technology easy to use.  

The Learning Space Design Team at IT Solutions under the leadership of Matthew Clay, Assistant CIO for Academic Technology, led the design and implementation of the new technology. This team helps campus partners achieve technology goals in their spaces, from learning spaces to meeting rooms and beyond. Clay’s biggest goal when approaching a design for a new space is “making sure everyone has the same vision for the space and bringing that to life.” This starts with discovery; the team watches how the space is used and asks lots of questions about the user’s goals. After gathering this information, the team creates a design to meet those requirements with technology that is easy, reliable, and consistent for the end users. 

During the consultation process, three core opportunities for improvement in the room were identified.  

  1. It was often difficult for in-person and virtual participants to see and engage with each other due to the placement of the TVs.  
  2. Virtual participants sometimes found it difficult to know who in the room was speaking at any given time.  
  3. In-person participants found it difficult to see shared documents and information clearly on TVs that were too far away. 

To address these opportunities, the new design features six large TVs placed in a unique 360-degree circular formation in the center of the roundtable, in addition to two TVs at the front of the room. The result is a clear view for all in-person participants seated around the table; they can see who’s online and who’s in in the room with them at the same time without having to look back and forth. “It’s all about having natural sightlines across the table, so you feel like everybody has presence in the room. Now, the people in the room are talking to the people online far more than they used to before,” says Clay.

The in-room controls also match the Zoom-enabled classrooms and other meeting rooms around campus, making the user experience easy and familiar to many. Additionally, new microphones were installed that detect who’s speaking using AI technology and automatically adjust the cameras accordingly, so participants online can see who’s talking in real time. All of this creates a more engaging, interactive, and simple meeting experience. 

The unique design of this room is already being used as an example by Crestron, the vendor that supplied the in-room control system, and is also serving as inspiration for other institutions. Teams from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and South Central College recently visited our campus to see the room and get ideas for their own spaces. The most impact is seen by employees and students right here on campus who are already successfully using the room with positive feedback. Additionally, the lessons that the tech team learned on this project will bring even more value to the rest of the campus in future projects. 

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