AVT Question: Please share insight and best practices for designing the higher ed classroom for today and the future.
Thought Leader: Fred Cain, Industry Development Director, Consultant Community at Absen
Distance learning has been a phrase in the AV/IT industry for years. It began in the corporate world where large enterprise companies wanted to keep their teams current without the expense of travel and lodging. In the higher education space, the implementation of lecture capture systems has enabled students to stay current if they missed a class or needed an additional refresher to understand a difficult topic. The advent of simple and affordable streaming has made these lectures available on demand easily and readily, both on campus-wide networks and on the public internet.
Capturing the content of a lecture and streaming it to students is just the end result of a complex planning and design process. It must balance the capabilities of the LAN/WAN infrastructure; the requirements for in-classroom and remote participants and their ability to absorb material; as well as the pedagogy of instructors and their comfort level with the use of these tools.
Technology managers have to design classrooms with all of this in mind. How do we capture the most appropriate video of the instructor, capture the most intelligible audio, share content from presentations, get replies from remote participants, and more? Are these individual classroom systems all standalone, or are they part of a larger networked ecosystem? How do students connect to the network that is sharing these streams, and how many wireless devices do you plan for per student—including phones, laptops, and tablets? We all carry so many of these devices on a daily basis.
These are all questions that need to be considered to guarantee a valuable experience in the classroom for all participants. Higher education technology managers have a difficult job in front of them. My suggestion is to start with all the bandwidth you can afford, because as AV/IT ecosystems continue to merge, they are going to need it.