UTEP President Heather Wilson and other campus leaders took a tour of the Learning Studio during a ribbon cutting ceremony on June 25, 2021. The Learning Studio, located in room 110 of the Undergraduate Learning Center, is available to students and faculty, and it features an interview station, podcasting equipment and a glass surface light board. Photo by Ivan Pierre Aguirre / UTEP Communications

UTEP’s new multimedia studio features high tech, user friendly equipment for students, faculty

The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) unveiled a new high-tech audio and video recording studio that aims to allow faculty and students to create podcasts, video lectures and more with equipment designed around ease of use.

The Learning Studio, which is housed in room 110 of the Undergraduate Learning Center, features three distinct sections equipped with multimedia tools that give students and faculty the resources needed to easily create content with a professional look and feel.

“The Learning Studio is the result of a collaboration between University departments, faculty and students from a variety of disciplines who identified a need for this type of professional, multimedia equipment,” said Luis Hernandez, vice president for information resources.

“The studio is designed to be easy to use and aims to impact student learning by further integrating technology to enhance presentations, projects and curriculum.”

The studio features an interview station that is equipped with four-host seating, an overhead microphone, a motorized green screen and a 75-inch interactive TV.

A podcasting station includes four industry-standard microphones with adjustable arms and accompanying studio headphones. The studio also contains an 85-inch glass surface light board with brightly colored markers for better contrast and a 48-inch stream monitor.

While recording, the system automatically flips the image so that the writing on the light board is properly oriented for the viewer.

Each station features robotic cameras that can pan, tilt and zoom, and automatic lighting is set up to ensure each participant is properly lit for video recordings. A USB hub and a one-button interface allows the user to quickly start, stop and save their recording.

German Rosas-Acosta, Ph.D., associate professor of biological sciences, started recording podcasts in his home during the Fall 2020 semester to create supplemental material for his molecular cell biology class. He said his students enjoyed the podcasts so much that he decided to teach a class that was specifically aimed at producing and recording more episodes for the podcast.

Rosas-Acosta said that is when it became evident that there was a need for a space to record those episodes.

“I think that it’s going to really provide another level of support for something that I know a lot of professors are getting into right now – producing our own material that can be then shared to students,” Rosas-Acosta said. “Knowing that now we have the ability to produce high-quality videos with tech support from people who work on campus, I think that’s going to be a life changer for the people who produce that kind of material at UTEP.”

Mike Pitcher, director of learning environments, oversees the studio. He said he has heard from a lot of different departments and student organizations interested in using the studio.

Pitcher said some students are intrigued with doing an online news broadcast show to record the latest happenings in their organization. Teaching assistants have wanted to use the facility to conduct mock lessons and use the recording to watch themselves from a student’s perspective.

“The biggest piece of (the studio) is the impact it has on learning as a whole,” Pitcher said. “Whether students gain exposure to the equipment or faculty are building pieces to put in different learning environments, it’s about learning about the equipment and finding some way to engage or use the technology to impact student learning.”

Every classroom in the 125,000-square-foot Undergraduate Learning Center has video projection capability that includes distance learning technology. The building on Wiggins Way was considered the most technologically advanced on campus when it opened in 1997. It has six large auditoriums – the biggest of which can hold up to 550 people – 11 classrooms and two video conference suites. It sits on the site of the former campus swimming pool.

To learn more about the Learning Studio or for information on reserving the space, click hereFor our complete coverage of all things UTEP, click here.

Author: Jesse Martinez – UTEP Communications