How the University of Minnesota Uses the Meeting Owl to Stay Connected Across Campus

University of Minnesota Featured Image - Owl Labs - Professionals connecting in a hybrid workspace

University of Minnesota

27,000 employees and 50,000 students

KEY RESULTS

  • Keeps school of management connected for hybrid meetings and hybrid learning

  • Enables university athletic department to be able to hold immersive hybrid meetings when attendees couldn’t join in-person due to COVID-19 or distance

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When the University of Minnesota was preparing to return to campus after working and learning remotely during the 2020-2021 school year, they knew they’d need to rethink their conference rooms and meeting spaces campus-wide, only a few of which were set up to support hybrid meetings.

Mark Hove, IT Services and Support Manager for the Carlson School of Management, purchased three Meeting Owls to try out in the school's conference rooms ahead of the 2021 autumn semester. After testing them out in a few meeting spaces, they purchased 14 more Meeting Owls to outfit two-thirds of their meeting spaces for regular meetings, while leaving a few Meeting Owls available to book for ad-hoc meetings and events when needed.

'The setup process out of the box is quick and easy. Our staff had been using Zoom throughout the pandemic, so after giving everyone a demonstration of how it works at the beginning of the semester, we haven't had any technical or support issues with our Meeting Owls.'

The school uses its Meeting Owls for a variety of different use cases, both for learning settings and for meetings.

'The feedback I hear about the Meeting Owls is universally positive. People love the 360° Pano view of the room above the face-to-face view of the speakers so much more than the traditional bowling alley view, where it's harder to see people's faces. They also love the hoot the Meeting Owl makes every time we turn it on.'

From the IT and support side, Mark enjoys the ease of the Meeting Owl's setup and management.

'It's easy to set up and manage the Meeting Owl with the help of the Meeting Owl App. Plus, anyone can easily manage the Owl during meetings when they need to.'

When asked about what the future of the Meeting Owl looks like on campus in a post-pandemic world, Mark explained:

'Our parliament of Meeting Owls will remain a big part of how our school operates. Hybrid is here to stay, and whether it's students or staff members who can't make it to campus, we're happy to have this resource to help us stay connected.'

In another department, Doug Goon, Director of IT for University of Minnesota Athletics, evaluated all of their meeting spaces to evaluate what was working and what wasn’t with their current setup.

'All of our meeting rooms were set up with different tech. We needed to make sure that no matter who walked into a room, they could easily use the video conferencing software on their laptop or the in-room computer, and that everyone could be seen and heard by remote participants, since we knew we’d be holding a lot of hybrid meetings.' 

Doug tasked Jake Dupont, Assistant Director of IT, with evaluating each meeting space and coming up with solutions that would meet all of their needs. Jake was especially focused on their largest meeting room, which featured a long conference table and didn’t have any video conferencing or display infrastructure set up yet. 

According to Jake: 'Our conference rooms that were configured for video conferencing had very basic setups, with a webcam mounted above the display and angled down at participants and an external microphone. They did the job, but it wasn’t a good experience for anyone remote or in the room.'

Jake recommended they try out the Meeting Owl in the large meeting room after hearing positive feedback from other teams on-campus who’d already been using it. They’ve been testing it out all summer in preparation for a larger rollout.

'The Meeting Owl shines because everyone can be seen and heard very clearly. Instead of sitting at the end of the table, the Meeting Owl sits in the centre with a 360° view of the room so the productivity of the discussion is enhanced.'

Jake notes that he’s received great user feedback since rolling it out to the rest of the team. 

'Unboxing and setup were extremely easy, with the Meeting Owl App walking you through every step of the process. Everyone loves using it, and since it’s Plug and Play, we haven’t had any IT support issues so far.'

The Meeting Owl is used in the large meeting room daily by the Athletics fundraising office, and the conference room is bookable in Google Calendar so anyone else on campus in need of a hybrid meeting space can use it. As Doug explains:

'We have a lot of different departments that are spread across campus, so the Meeting Owl is a great solution if people are unable to travel across campus to meet in-person. As the world becomes more acclimated to hybrid collaboration, we suspect people outside of our department will want to use it more and more, and we’ll need to purchase several more.'

The Meeting Owl helps colleges and universities support hybrid collaboration during meetings when everyone can’t attend in person.

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