USS prepares for statewide university Web conference

Sara Macho

The Undergraduate Student Senate is preparing for its first Web conference with nine other universities across Ohio.

The universities will communicate using distance learning lab technology.

Andrew Meeks, senator for research and development, has been learning how to use the technology since October. The distance learning lab, which is located in Moulton Hall, has been available to users since the hall’s renovation in 1997.

Along with the Web conference, Meeks is working with the Ashtabula campus to form a student government. By using software that can connect the eight Kent branches simultaneously, Meeks is hoping to answer any questions the regional students have regarding campus government. The date for this conference is not yet set.

In order to prepare for the regional Web conference event, Meeks will hold a practice conference in January.

“It’s a tedious process getting everyone to learn how to use the technology,” Meeks said.

The idea to host a Web conference came to Meeks during an October meeting of the Inner University Council, which meets four times a year in Columbus. Student leader representatives from universities across the state meet to discuss current issues college students face.

Meeks said he felt that the council did not meet enough.

“I thought, ‘why don’t we just do Web conferences?'” he said.

Meeks said the distance learning lab, which features rows of tiered seating, comes equipped with microphones, two video cameras, a projection screen, a television screen and a moderator station.

Meeks will work as moderator, while the other members of the USS pose and answer questions to the participating schools.

Meeks said each station features a microphone that allows an individual to be broadcast directly to all schools involved.

“There are auxiliary microphones that pick up noise, but the individual microphones will only pick up your voice,” Meeks said.

Meeks worked with Mel May, assistant dean of the Ashtabula campus. May taught Meeks how to use the technology while he worked as executive director of Educational Technologies and Distributed Learning.

May said the technology is beneficial to users because it provides access to courses and programs that may prepare students for the work world.

He said he has high hopes for the Web conferences.

“Any effort to connect any campus to another is wonderful,” May said. “This conference will give Meeks and other student leaders more flexibility in communication.”

Contact student politics reporter Sara Macho at [email protected].