Liberal Arts College Expands Horizons with LifeSize

For more than 130 years, Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas has been providing students with an intensive, well-rounded education, and US News and World Reports has consistently rated them as one of the best “up-and-coming” Liberal Arts Colleges in the country.  The university is constantly looking for ways to improve the learning experience of its 1,400 students, and functions as an educational laboratory, finding ways to combine classroom education with hands-on participation.  That’s why new Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer David J. Hinson decided to add video conferencing solutions to the school’s academic arsenal.

Hinson knew that video conferencing would be a powerful new educational tool, as it would allow educators to meld students’ in-classroom experiences with the world outside the university’s walls.  Hendrix College had recently completed work on a $26 million Student Life and Technology Center, but because the facility was student-focused, the university needed a way to induce faculty members to start using the latest technology in the classroom.

The CIO reached out to Hendrix alumnus Bracken Darrell, the CEO of Logitech, who put Hinson on to LifeSize.  A live demonstration impressed on him the quality of the HD image, the ease of use, and the price point – so the university invested in a number of Room 220 endpoints.  Hinson was blown away.

“It’s actually quite stunning when you experience [LifeSize HD video conferencing] firsthand, and realize how drastically it will transform our notion of what blended learning in the liberal arts can make possible,” he said. “Our approach to evaluating classroom technology is always through the lens of how it advances the academic mission of Hendrix. LifeSize is allowing us to push the limits of what an engaged classroom experience is.”

Professors and educators at the university immediately embraced the possibilities of the technology.  Politics professor and Democratic state delegate Dr. Jay Barth traveled to last year’s Democratic National Convention, and with a flip of his laptop, he was able to give his students a front-row seat to the action.  Dr. Jay McDaniel, a religious studies professor, has connected with universities in China to give his students an insider’s look at Chinese literature, family life, education, and more.

Not only is the technology changing the way professors at Hendrix teach, but it’s spreading to the university’s academic peers in the Associated Colleges of the South (ACS).  The organization’s recent New Paradigm Initiative is designed to draw on the power of video conferencing to better engage students, and now that the ACS campuses are linked via HD video, the variety of courses offered to students has exploded.  LifeSize video conferencing is the beginning of a brave new world of education at Hendrix College and beyond.

Read the entire Hendrix College case study.

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