Residence halls are a big profit center for colleges and universities. Typically educational technologists have had little to no technology responsibility in dorms. But when student expectations drive projects and priorities, as they often do in order for schools to stay competitive and meet enrollment goals, traditional environments seem to get turned on their heads.
The idea of a multi-use or mixed-used building is not new. In many downtown areas, retail, commercial and residential space commonly inhabit the same structure. Now, the idea of multi-use buildings are becoming common on college campuses. Often, we find that residence halls also contain classroom space, public gathering/ study areas and possibly retail, gym or food components; a sort of “feed your mind, body and soul” all-in-one building.
As the definition of a residence hall morphs to mixed use, AV and IT teams are being called into these projects more frequently. The classroom spaces will still fall under their umbrella of responsibility. Therefore planning for the technology infrastructure necessary to support the rooms will bring them to the table (hopefully earlier, rather than later). Sometimes these buildings will be in a location on campus that is easy to access, allowing for a smoother transition to add the classroom technology to the overall oversight of the technology team. But sometimes these buildings are on the fringes, or outer areas of a larger campus (or even off campus) making supervision and maintenance of these rooms more challenging. Not to mention potential security roadblocks that may limit access to the buildings or parts of buildings. This is when remote monitoring and help desk become quite useful.
Some of the multi-use buildings on campus will include technology in the gathering and public spaces, like lounges and group study rooms. Understanding on whose oversight and maintenance schedule these will reside should be part of the planning phase of these buildings. Often and more traditionally, facilities and interiors departments maintained the structures. But with the proliferation of these mixed-use buildings, the responsibilities become more diverse and sometimes lines become blurred. So to help those who are navigating these speed bumps now, we ask the multi-use building veterans:
Do you have mixed-used buildings on your campus? Are you in the planning phase for any?
Are there spaces in these buildings that fall under your department’s responsibility?
Have there been challenges associated with these spaces that are specific to that of a multi-use building?
How have you overcome these challenges?