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Four Essentials of the Evolving Classroom - AvNetwork.com

Four Essentials of the Evolving Classroom

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Simulation technology, interactive touchscreen whiteboards, system control rooms, recording systems, wireless LCD Monitors—these aren’t words that remind me of my college experience. Educational technology has redefined the way students learn and how they interact with their teachers. It also has forced our educational institutions to adapt to new technologies, and often.

Nearly all classrooms on college and university campuses contain audio video technology. Projectors, sound systems, and microphones are common place and even a necessity for large classrooms. It seems that new interactive learning tools are developed on a daily basis. Knowing when to incorporate new technologies or update existing equipment and how to best use these tools is our job as AV experts.

Online colleges and courses have been challenging the concept of the classroom. Live interactions and discussions that happen in a traditional classroom are invaluable. Today’s technology provides access to this information for students outside of the traditional setting. With lecture capture technology, colleges are able to easily capture lessons to use for online classes. This saves resources as one teacher and one class can quickly become one teacher and multiple classes. For this to be successful, capture and online distribution need to be quick and easy. Creating a virtual learning environment to get these recorded lessons out to students is important.

What’s New in Audio
FrontRow’s Juno system is the newest digital sound system featuring voice-activated, automated lesson capture and online sharing. Juno is an installation-free audio solution built around a simple and intuitive interface, with the capability to use up to five microphones simultaneously. It allows teachers to record lessons while they are in front of the class, rather than a computer. Teachers can instantly save and upload the voice recordings in a universal MP4 format.

What’s New in Video
While audio lecture capture is effective, some classes also require video capturing. Many products can record audio and video, but the most important aspect is the ability to easily save and use the recordings. The Ncast PR-720-M presentation recorder is a perfect solution. The system can record and stream high-quality graphics with video feeds and stereo audio in one multimedia file. The PR-720-M creates clear video and audio files that can be uploaded onto school virtual learning spaces.

Virtual Learning Space
Lecture capture is essential for student access to information and additional class distribution. The Blackboard Learn System continues to be a hot product for universities, providing a convenient way to manage courses. Teachers now also have the unique ability to add online elements to traditional classes, and develop and execute full online classes. The system has endless capabilities including course management, course delivery, text, audio and video, student teacher communications, grading, tests, student collaboration and analysis.

Technology has made the classroom more flexible and engaging for students, increasing their success. The need for technology is there, but it needs to be easy for teachers to use. A common hurdle for colleges to overcome is getting the teachers up-to-speed and onboard with the technology. Colleges are spending millions of dollars in educational technology and hoping to get the most of their investment, but far too often equipment is not being utilized properly or to its fullest.

Training (Practice) Makes Perfect
There is a huge need for technology training for not only the teachers, but the IT staff as well. When new equipment is installed it is important to provide hands-on training to all staff that will be using the equipment. Simply having a presence at the school can go a long way. After initial weeks of training, take time and dedicate one day per month to be on-site for any questions or tutorials. This extra service can make a real difference in the use of the technology and the schools satisfaction with the purchase. Build a relationship with the IT techs. Sure, they know a lot about technology and the existing systems in the school, but making sure they know the ins and outs of any new or updated AV technology is essential and creating a good relationship with them ensures overall satisfaction and keeps equipment in good working order.

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In the AV industry we need to keep in mind that equipment should be coupled with training. We may have known how to use the equipment the moment it was pulled out of the box, but that is not the case for most end users. Providing comprehensive training options is the key to ensuring clients are happy with their purchase and are truly experiencing its value—and that’s how we prove ours.

Jessica Kim is the lead technology trainer at CCS Mid-Atlantic, an AV integrator serving the education, corporate, and government sectors in the Maryland, Virginia, and D.C. areas. Learn more at www.ccsmidatlantic.com.

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Managing the New Classroom

Colleges and universities are increasingly capturing lectures and other instruction for a variety of applications, including distance learning in real time and downloads by students who want to review a particular class. Oregon’s Portland Community College uses videoconferencing endpoints already in select classrooms to produce five to ten minute lecture excerpts, such as a math class demo of an important equation.

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Designing and Managing a 21st Century Classroom

Scott Tiner just got out of a meeting with a faculty member at Bates College, where he’s assistant director for digital media, classroom technologies and event support. Tiner frequently meets one-on-one with faculty to go through how they want to use the school’s digital classrooms.