Inside the Dome: where learning replaces sports for now

Inside the Dome: where learning replaces sports

Syracuse University professor Jeff Rubin teaches SU's first-ever class inside the legendary Dome amidst the pandemic.
Published: February 7, 2021 | Updated: May 28th, 2021 at 10:24 pm
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Rubin stands on an elevated platform and stays standing throughout the whole class, lecturing to the students sitting socially-distanced in the bleachers.

The 2020-21 school year has brought many firsts, masked classes, socially distanced events, and unfortunately, no spectators in the Dome. One exception to that rule however is Professor Jeff Rubin’s Introduction to Information Technology (IST 195) which has given a few dozen Syracuse University students a front-row seat in the new and improved stadium. 

Although there are no sports actively being played while the class is in session, students are socially distantly seated on the bleachers with orange SU cushion for their comfort. In order to adhere to COVID-19 safety protocols, students are spaced 6 feet apart with an empty bleacher between each row of students. Sophomore advertising major Drew Bartelstein said she felt “safe” in the class because of the large open space. Bartelstein added that she felt the class layout and flow was “well-thought-out and executed.” 

 

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The seamless transition from classroom to Dome was thanks to months of planning on the part of Rubin, the Dome facilities team and the technology team that transformed the giant hanging scoreboard into a screen where Rubin can project his class notes large enough for everyone in the stadium to see.

While the scoreboard projects the class information, Rubin is stationed on an elevated platform in front of the bleachers, equipped with a table and monitor. He’s even incorporated technology from his own company, SIDEARM Sports, which provides the technology platform that powers the websites, apps, and other aspects of collegiate athletic partners across the nation. SIDEARM Sports was started by Rubin at SU two decades ago and now runs more than 1,000 college sports websites. The SIDEARM video technology has made it possible for Rubin to project a live video of himself teaching onto the scoreboard so students in the back of the “classroom” can still have a visual of their professor.

Sophomore advertising student Sophie Schiff said she enjoys having class in the Dome, saying that “it definitely beats logging onto Zoom in my dorm room.” 

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Students were able to get a front-row seat in the Dome during their first day of class. "I think just from reading some of their faces that they were enjoying it," Rubin said after the class ended.

Though the Dome is a renowned college sports facility, concert venue and even a monster truck stadium (OK, only once a year), it’s just another classroom for Professor Rubin.

“It’s a really cool classroom and a neat experience but at the end of the day the goal was — how do we get students back in the classroom? And we did it,” Rubin said. And now the door is open for other faculty members to try their hand at a Dome class. 

Between Rubin’s enthusiasm, the cutting-edge technology and the opportunity to attend a class in the same stadium where SU sports legends made their mark — there may be an influx of students trying to weasel their way into IST 195.

Avatar for Lydia Herne

is the assistant executive producer for the NewsHouse, and a graduate student in the multimedia, photography, and design program.