Class of 2024: Middle Tennessee State University

Middle Tennessee State University
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Middle Tennessee State University

Left to Right: Lance Finch, MEd, manager of Instructional Design and Technology; Mark Beekhuizen, director of Education Technology (Image credit: Sennheiser)

AV/IT TEAM: James Copeland, director of Classroom Technology; Aaron Dill, classroom control system programmer; Dustin Cunningham, classroom audio visual technician

Middle Tennessee State University

(Image credit: Sennheiser)

GOALS:  Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) recently completed the installation and rollout of over 250 Sennheiser TeamConnect Ceiling 2 (TCC2) microphones across campus to streamline their hybrid classroom technology stack while maximizing audio quality for students and faculty. The university is home to 20,000 students across 300 degree programs in eight undergraduate colleges, of which an estimated 80 percent of the student body attend classes in-person. Nevertheless, all classes are recorded and streamed for remote and hybrid participants via Panopto, making audio quality for all students, interoperability, and ease of use for faculty key considerations for the AV and IT staff at the university.

After a few years of remote and hybrid classes, leveraging a camera and lanyard-style lavalier microphone for all classrooms, James Copeland, director of Classroom Technology at MTSU realized they needed a better solution. “Students in class wanted to communicate with their remote classmates, but did not want to physically pass a mic, and potentially germs,” he said. “Logistically, it was a natural transition to move to a ceiling microphone.”

James and his colleagues Aaron Dill, classroom control system programmer, and Dustin Cunningham, classroom audio visual technician, landed on the TeamConnect Ceiling 2 for this sizable project, with support from a team of contracted integrators.

Middle Tennessee State University

(Image credit: Sennheiser)

CHALLENGES: The classroom technology department needed a better, easier-to-use microphone solution across campus, with the provision that both the professor and students would be heard in a livestream or recording.


Sennheiser TeamConnect Ceiling 2 (TCC2) microphones (250), Epiphan Mini video production systems

FINAL INSTALL/USER BENEFITS: The choice to go all in on 250 TeamConnect Ceiling 2s across MTSU’s campus was due to a few of the mic’s key differentiators. 

Copeland explained their decision: “The Sennheiser option was more ready out of the box [compared to competitors]. What caught my attention was the Priority Zone feature for professors.” The Priority Zone capability allows users to take full control of the speech in a room by setting a parameter in the space for the audio, enabling it to beam to focus on a specific location. This way, if there are side conversations happening across the room, the presenter or professor is not interrupted in the recording or live stream.

Dill added, “We have classrooms where the tables and chairs are constantly reoriented. The beamforming mic benefits us here as well because you never know where everyone will be set up for a class.” The TCC2 features patented dynamic beamforming technology, which picks up all audio in a room and uses digital signal processing to automatically locate and highlight the individual speaking, regardless of where they are sitting, standing, or moving. Voices are picked up evenly throughout the space, which is an important consideration if planning for a dynamic classroom setup or a professor with a collaborative teaching style.

Copeland and Dill manage 3,000 to 3,500 streams each day for class sections, relying on the TCC2s deployed across campus to capture the audio for each of these, with Control Cockpit to oversee the mics from a centralized location. The Sennheiser ceiling microphones are integrated with MTSU’s Epiphan Mini video production systems in each classroom, as well as their Panopto recording and sharing platform. The TCC2 is also certified for Zoom, which is used by a few faculty members as part of their recording setup.

Since the rollout of the TCC2s across MTSU’s sprawling campus, Copeland and Dill have received positive feedback from faculty and students. Copeland said, “All I’ve heard is how well it works and how easy it is. I used to get hundreds of tickets where there was no audio in a recording because faculty would misuse the previous microphone solutions. This is no longer a concern thanks to the ceiling mics.” 

Beyond the high-quality recorded audio, students and faculty also enjoy the intuitive mute capability of the TCC2s. Copeland shared, “Sometimes students will come up to a professor during class to talk about grades. The ability to easily mute the ceiling mics from the panel for such private conversations was a nice feature.

In the future, Copeland plans to continue growing MTSU’s state-of-the-art AV and IT setup with Sennheiser. “The TeamConnect Ceiling 2 has become the new standard for us. We have four new building projects we are currently designing for, and plan to use them as our microphones.” 

Contributing Writer

Macy O'Hearn has been a contributing writer to AV Technology since 2019 where her focus is working on the Technology Manager's Guides. In addition, O'Hearn has contributed articles to SCN, and is the editor for the 2022, 2023, and 2024 Digital Signage magazine.