As some students return to campus and others opt to learn from home, some colleges and universities have been finding new ways to ensure their AV systems provide an enriching learning experience for all students.
AV technology has quickly become a focus area for educators as they adapt to a new way of on-campus and remote learning. As some students return to campus and others opt to learn from home, upper-tier higher education institutions like Yale University and Bentley University have been finding new ways to ensure their AV systems provide an enriching learning experience for all students, in and out of the classroom.
Hybrid Learning Is Here to Stay
Prior to 2020, most campuses had only a small number of classrooms (if any) that supported remote learning, but that quickly changed when colleges and universities had to send their students home. The immediate need for effective remote-learning-enabled facilities quickly turned into an opportunity to rethink how AV can balance the "learning equality" between in-class and remote students. It gave rise to the proliferation of hybrid learning spaces, which use multiple cameras to give remote learners a view of both the instructor and students, an LCD display in the rear of the room to let the instructor see remote students, and microphones to allow all participants to engage in dialogue. There are some major challenges in this type of space, as standard soft-conferencing applications don't allow for multiple cameras, and most video scenarios require complex video-switching or control capabilities to achieve the right outcome. The Q-SYS audio, video, and control platform from QSC solves these challenges, allowing colleges and universities to easily build out these hybrid spaces without complex integrations.
Bentley University quickly began scaling their hybrid learning spaces from a small handful of classrooms to all sixty-nine rooms on campus. With the help of the Q-SYS Platform, they were able to transform the remainder of their classrooms before the start of the fall 2020 semester, ensuring a consistent learning experience across campus.
And the benefits of embracing hybrid learning spaces aren't short-lived. Some colleges and universities are even seeing an uptick in enrollments, because they are able to support a greater number of remote students from around the globe, some of who may never step foot on campus.
Centralized Processing for Multiple Classrooms
Colleges and universities that are upgrading their AV systems also have the opportunity to change how they deploy AV. Some schools choose to centralize AV processing in a cluster of classrooms. This means that one Q-SYS Core processor per room cluster handles audio digital signal processing (DSP), video distribution, and control processing in a single device, and all network-based endpoints are distributed where they are needed.
Yale University adopted a hybrid approach with Q-SYS, where smaller classrooms are managed by a centralized Core processor, and larger spaces run on dedicated in-room Core processors. Using a centralized topology allows for a staged rollout of classrooms, expanding where and when AV is needed. It also allows AV to run alongside the school's IT services to allow for more streamlined support.
Remote Monitoring and Support
And speaking of more streamlined support, this more holistic approach to campus-wide AV deployments also introduces the opportunity to improve how campus staff interact with and support the systems. Many colleges and universities are deploying an intuitive, cloud-based monitoring and management solution, like Q-SYS Reflect Enterprise Manager, that allows them to set up customized alerts and notifications so that they can be more proactive about system maintenance (even before an instructor alerts them). The solution also gives them remote access to Q-SYS user control interfaces, allowing them to troubleshoot without stepping inside a classroom (a bonus in a post-COVID-19 world!) and to push Q-SYS designs to their Cores during off-hours, thereby minimizing interruptions.
Now is the time to consider whether your AV system is ready to help welcome your higher education students back on campus. Class is in session at www.qsc.com/highereducation.
Joe Jackson is a Business Development Manager at QSC.
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