Classrooms are about more than just sitting at a desk and listening to your professor while taking notes. You want to capture the emotions of the professor, stream the class to students, present a distraction free environment with easy-to-use technology.
At least, that was the case for Washington State University’s Intercollegiate College of Nursing, (ICN) where PSNI affiliate, Avidex designed and installed new, interactive classrooms, multimedia rooms, distance learning AV systems multimedia rooms, distance learning AV systems, conference rooms, control rooms, and clinical/simulation laboratories in their new facility.
Building the Classrooms
There are four distance-education classrooms in the nursing building. Via AMX control, each instructor can choose either in-room or far-site IP-based AV conferencing modes. Correspondingly, the rooms’ seating accommodates 40, 60, 100 and up to 140 students. Each classroom has its own equipment rack. Routing is via Extron in RGBHV DAs. Kramer is well represented with various video DAs, matrix switchers, component converters and scan converters. Extron and Kramer devices are in the AV framework throughout the install.
In addition, when the mic is turned on, a camera system zooms in to show viewers, on the far site, who is talking, making the instruction quite personal and not a gaggle of disembodied voices. Similarly, the camera system can track the instructor, who has a choice of a Shure gooseneck and a Shure wireless lavalier for himself and/or a guest lecturer. Avidex installed three strategically placed cameras in order to capture every movement.
Bringing the experience home
For students who can’t make it to the lecture, the University not only deployed the school’s first high-definition AV conferencing, each classroom has a Sonic Foundry, Mediasite, PodCast automatic MP3 converter, which records all distance learning education classes so they can extend the material to students just as it was delivered in the classroom.
The conferencing system audio is heard on JBL in-ceiling speakers, driven by Crown power amplifiers. IR hearing assistance is provided by Phonic Ear StarSound 600 large area systems. On the video conferencing side, there’s a Polycom codec. All the room’s video sources go through the Analog Way seamless switcher and are sent to the two Panasonic projectors housed in Chief ceiling mounts. A pair of big-screen 46-inch NEC flatpanel monitors on Chief mounts offers side-by-side viewing. The NEC displays are hanging from the ceiling about 15 to 20 feet back from the podium so the instructor can see what’s being projected on the room screen.
Simplifying the Control Room.
Previously, ICN had one operator per classroom to control the room. Avidex was able to simplify this process by now having only one operator controlling all four distance-education classrooms, by adding four workstations to the control room.
The NEC monitors can look at the classroom cameras full screen or break the images down into quad or smaller window views via the Avitech videowall processors. There’s a synergism between the nursing and the SAC control rooms. Although the nursing control room is dedicated to the four classrooms, the SAC control room is a master control center that can control the nursing classrooms and other distance-education rooms on campus. Information is sent back and forth between the two buildings over a fiber system.
The two seminar rooms are similar to the nursing classrooms, but smaller. Equipment-wise, there are some differences noted – the presenter uses a desktop Samsung digital presenter in place of a ceiling-mounted document camera. Each seminar room has a Vaddio camera and a Polycom 9004 conferencing codec with a Polycom ceiling mic array. Instead of projectors, three wall-mounted NEC flat panels display in-room or far-site images. There are Altinex modules for laptop connection at the podium, and there’s a Shure wireless lavalier mic for the presenter.