Hybrid classrooms are made possible by integrating powerful software and AV equipment into a physical classroom that is correctly set up. The integrators are the ones that will put everything together and bring your dream hybrid classroom to life.
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That is why choosing a software technology solution with reliable partners is essential. We have asked one of our trusted integrator partners in the U.S., Vistacom, to share their expertise on hybrid classrooms and how to select the right partners.
1. What are your recommendations in order to select the right integration partner?
Lianna Russell, AV Sales & Marketing Manager
With the changing nature of the campus and workplace, coupled with digital transformation being widely recognized as business critical, organizations need to look for three characteristics in a technology integration partner:
1) Expertise and proof of performance in the design and engineering of hybrid video conferencing and collaboration tools in classrooms
2) The ability to be dedicated to your system integration and nimble during the end-to-end process
3) A reputation of quality driven by proven operating standards
2. What are the most important points that you as an integration partner must to keep in mind when setting up a hybrid classroom?
Matt Boyer, Director of Technology
Cameras and microphones are probably the biggest contributor to better hybrid learning. Determining the right devices that integrate specific capabilities and are interoperable with the larger technology ecosystem is critical to usability in the space, empowering teachers and maximizing student success
The latest, AI-enhanced cameras can track instructors as they move around the classroom with great accuracy. Powerful digital signal processing and beamforming-mic-array technology deliver clean and articulate audio to remote participants. High brightness displays allow better light levels for cameras and a clearer, more dynamic view of in-room content and remote participants.
It is possible to deliver a rich classroom experience while keeping the investment to a minimum if we focus on strategic audio distribution and proper camera placement, unlocking the ability to teach and learn with high-quality interactions.
Classrooms outfitted with room audio systems that pick up the instructor and students, along with cameras that capture the space provided a more engaging experience for remote learners.
It is possible to integrate easy-to-use technologies and communication platforms that provide a more immersive environment and brings remote learners, in-person learners and instructors together in a way that is almost seamless.
As a result, you can reach a broader range of students. Learners can even be in other countries and still participate in active collaboration in a hybrid or remote environment.
Cameras and microphones are probably the biggest contributor to better hybrid learning. It is possible to deliver a rich experience while keeping the investment to a minimum if we focus on key areas such as audio and proper camera placement.
Matt Boyer, Director of Technology, Vistacom Inc
3. How does the collaboration between you as a partner and a technology provider like Barco work?
Matt Boyer, Director of Technology, Vistacom Inc
Jim Ferlino, President
An enduring objective that we have is to be at the forefront of expertly integrating new advancements in AV technology to better serve our clients. To do that, working closely and in collaboration with Barco’s first-rate technical team enables us to provide exceptional customer service, and deliver the high-quality workmanship that Vistacom is known for.
4. Speaking about your most recent hybrid classroom installation at King’s College in the US, what were the main setup challenges?
Angela Nolan, CEO
Starting with the William G. McGowan School of Business—and under the direction of Dean Barry Williams—a BYOD learning campus swiftly became the goal for King’s College. As King’s College worked closely with Vistacom and Barco to test the original Barco ClickShare technology, they began to realize that this was a solution that could deliver on all of the school’s requirements for being a truly wireless collaboration system.
Then, hybrid classroom implementation became a new challenge. King’s envisioned a room to facilitate how people interact in the real world, to build teamwork and communication skills, while also bringing virtual students into the classroom with fully-integrated collaboration capabilities.
Thus, a highly innovative solution came to light. The space would transition into a fully collaborative and immersive education experience for both instructors and students, utilizing the BYOD infrastructure already established, and now with the added weConnect virtual classroom software and a video wall that foster engagement from remote students with a perspective and experience as if they were a part of the physical classroom.
One of the biggest challenges within the space was the integration of high-quality, two-way audio from the classroom to the remote students and vice versa. Vistacom installed speakers and microphones, both in the ceiling and at each pod, integrated through a digital signal processor (DSP) to facilitate crystal clear audio conferencing.
Using advanced audio features like out-of-bounds pick-up rejection, Vistacom was able to essentially create an audio “bubble” over each pod to keep the sound as isolated as possible within each working group.
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