CommArts Studio Puts Student Tech Fees to Work


When FIU Communication Arts major Paula Navarrete showed up at the CommArts Studio on the Modesto Maidique campus recently looking for an appointment, she reaped the benefit of over $80,000 in new technology, funded by the tech fees paid by her and her fellow students. With a tech fee award, the CommArts Studio was able to purchase and install a PolyCom teleconferencing system in its Modesto Maidique Campus Debate Studio (VH 219) and its Biscayne Bay Main Studio (HL 155) locations. Along with the teleconferencing system, state-of-the-art presentation and audio-visual equipment was installed, including a 102-inch wide screen (BBC), a 70-inch monitor (MMC), and 55-inch confidence monitors, computers, microphones, cameras, and speakers on both campuses. In addition, the larger BBC Studio has a complete “course capture” system provided by FIU Media Engineering, which allows for one touch recording and uploading of presentations and talks.

This new technology allowed Navarrete to connect live with CommArts Studio coach Audrey Shaffer, who was over 25 miles away at the BBC CommArts Studio. Seeing each other in high definition and real time, Navarrete and Shaffer had a normal coaching session, which lasted for 30 minutes. The session included Navarrete delivering her speech to Shaffer and receiving feedback and tips from Shaffer on how to tweak it for a stronger presentation.

Navarrete was skeptical at first, not sure how effective her coaching session would be when the coach was not in the same room. She was pleasantly surprised, however, to discover that through the “magic” of teleconferencing, it felt like Shaffer was right there with her. “It was amazing! She could see and hear me perfectly. When I stood up to deliver my speech, she could hear every one of my ‘um’s’ and see every one of my Powerpoint slides, which, she pointed out, had too many words on them. Maybe it was a little too real,” Navarrete laughed.

Shaffer agreed: “This is a great use of technology. It allows me to do everything I would do with students in face-to-face coaching sessions, except touch.  I can jot down notes and we can review them together. I can virtually manage the entire session from a distance, even down to asking them to shut off the light and lock the door on their  way out.”

For more information on the CommArts Studio and its teleconferencing system, please visit


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