Access Grid Room at RMIT

The screens of the access grid room

The School of Mathematical and Geospatial Sciences, as a member of the Australian Mathematical Science Institute (AMSI), has established a state of the art Access Grid Room.



The Access Grid Room Project

People in the access grid room watching a presentation

The international centre of excellence for education in mathematics (ICE-EM) is establishing a network of subsidised Access Grid Rooms (AGRs) at Australian Mathematical Science Institute (AMSI) member universities. Australian mathematics departments and schools have been able to obtain part (about half, at approx. 90K) funding for anAGR within their precincts through five funding rounds. Participating universities provide top up funding to establish AGRs at their institutions. Funding is provided by the Australian Government through the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.

AMSI member institutions that have been funded to date include

  • RMIT University
  • La Trobe University
  • the University of South Australia
  • the University of Wollongong
  • Victoria University, Monash University
  • the University of Southern Queensland
  • the University of Sydney
  • the University of Newcastle
  • Macquarie University in conjunction with the CMIS Division of CSIRO.

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What is an Access Grid Room?

The Access Grid Room is a two way interactive form of telecommunications based on the Access Grid software. The Access Grid software brings together a multitude of resources including multimedia large-format displays, presentation and interactive environments, and interfaces to visualisation environments. Usually these take the form of smart boards, data projection and interactive software incorporating digital ink and conferencing facilities. These resources are used to support group-to-group interactions across the Grid. The Access Grid community is a world wide movement towards open access and interaction across the grid (map of grid rooms world wide).

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What does RMIT Access Grid Room have? screens of the access grid room

The AGR within the Mathematical Sciences at RMIT is fully equipped with standard video conferencing equipment (i.e. ceiling mikes and speakers with inbuilt echo-cancelling), a set of three electro-board smart boards and one retractable projection screen. These are all run via an AMX control system and are interfaced with the grid via a high performance computing system. Access Grid 3 software is run to enable cross grid communication and interactivity with state of the art mathematical software via Virtual Network Computing (VNC).

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What is the purpose of the RMIT Access Grid Room?

The primary reason for the development of this network of AGRs is to promote high level mathematical communication and interaction between AMSI member universities. The main goal is to deliver high quality honours and postgraduate courses through the AGR into member institutions. This will increase the variety and quality of programs offered at universities within the Australian context, where expertise is widely spread geographically. The AGRs allow the mathematics postgraduate community - and professionals - to access international experts who are visiting Australia. The AGR network will enable AMSI member institutions to present seminars, lectures, honours and masters courseware, and multimedia resources remotely and interactively, and in return, to participate in events presented by other AMSI institutions.

The AGRs will also provide a means of carrying out collaborative research with peers within Australia and internationally. Where appropriate, they can be used for undergraduate mathematics teaching, as well as professional development for mathematics teachers.

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How to Book the Access Grid RoomPeople in the access grid room watching a presentation

The AGR can be booked for use by RMIT staff by contacting the School of Mathematical and Geospatial Sciences. When a booking is made an ITS technician is allocated for the session whose responsibility is to make the connection with a virtual venue and drive the session. RMIT staff are not permitted to use this facility without official training by ITS. Training sessions can be booked via the ITS training website.

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Upcoming Events in the Access Grid Room

For upcoming events in the Access Grid Room, visit the School of Mathematical and Geospatial Events page.

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History of the Access Grid Room at RMIT

Photo: Professor John Hearne

Professor John Hearne, Head of Mathematics and Geospatial Sciences, speaking at the launch of the Access Grid Room, December 2007.

  • Training for RMIT staff given by the external consultants

  • Training program by ITS staff for other internal RMIT staff.

  • A training schedule is available for staff to book into and includes training in 3 different courses, AGR Basic Training, AGR Best Practice Training and AGR Smartboard Training. RMIT IT Services have the responsibility for the development of these training courses.

  • Honours Courses – in 2007 Dr Lynne McArthur Program Leader of the Mathematical Sciences Honours Program coordinated with AMSI the involvement of our Honour students in courses provided via the AGR. Included as part of the program were the following courses:
    • In first semester the Honours Seminars linked to the University of Wollongong (Advanced Data Analysis) and UniSA (Advanced Optimization, and Optimal Control) to receive honours courses.

    • In second semester the Honours Program linked to UniSA for Analytic Number Theory.

    • In second semester, the Honours Program also offered Game Theory and Convex Analysis and Control through the grid to other Australian Universities.

    • A total of five students completed eight courses through the AGR last year.

    • At times the Honours students have linked up to other universities for seminars (notably UniSA and La Trobe) and used the room for local presentations.

  • A very successful RMIT AGR Launch was held on the 6 December 2007. The event was held over the web with UNISA and Christchurch universities participating. The speakers included the RMIT Chancellor Professor Dennis Gibson AO, Professor Garth Goudry, Director of the International Centre of Excellence for Education in Mathematics at the University of Melbourne, Professor Daine Alcorn, the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Science, Engineering and Technology), and Professor John Hearne, the head of the school of Mathematical and Geospatial Sciences. Professor Ian Town, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, joined the event online and address the event. Dr John Boland from the School of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of South Australia joined Associate Professor Bill Blyth in delivering a short demonstration of the facilities capabilities.

  • We have participated in a number of seminars that have been given by Australian universities over the grid. Please refer to the National Symposium on Mathematics Education for 21st Century Engineering Students (PDF 52kb). This is an example of the benefits of such a great facility that RMIT are proud to be able to have access to.

  • The RMIT Access Grid Users Group was formed and convened their first meetings in 2007. This group's role is to facilitate communicate with ITS staff in order to influence policy and guidelines on the usage of the access grid room facility. The group will also provide feedback to the university and ITS on service provided to support the running of the AGR. It will involve itself strongly in training and promotion of the room within the school of Mathematical and Geospatial sciences. Professor Andrew Eberhard is currently filling the role of chair of the access grid users group.

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