AVT Question: Please share insight and best practices for designing the higher ed classroom for today and the future.
Thought Leader: Holger Stoltze, Senior Director of Technical Sales and Marketing at Yamaha Unified Communications
When designing today’s classroom, as well as the classroom of the future, AV/IT managers can no longer expect that all participants of the class are on site; students and/or teachers may very well be remote. Creating a classroom with remote participants in mind not only allows for the pandemic (or snow-day) case, but also for the student that cannot attend class due to illness. This mindset also benefits colleges in rural areas that don’t offer all courses in person at all sites, and opens the option for remote experts to offer classes, such as a researcher at a different organization.
For a class to be successful, audio and video in the classrooms and remote locations need to adequately handle the demand for each application, while also providing equity for all participants. Speakers might be anywhere in the room or off-site, and they need to be the focus of transmitted video while speaking. Video images also need to be transmitted to the correct screen. When the teacher’s eyes are facing in-person students, the teacher should see a screen showing remote students; and students facing the front of the class should see a screen showing their remote teacher. Furthermore, remote students should easily see both their teachers and peers, with priorities set for each situation, e.g., zooming in on a teacher during a lecture.
Microphones need to capture everyone in a classroom, as successful remote classes include peer-to-peer communication as well. This will require more microphones in the classroom than just a teacher microphone, while also including technology to enable the teacher to control the audio. Audio reproduction in the room must also support this kind of setup. Lastly, a successful higher education classroom requires an intuitive, easy-to-understand management environment. Remember, (most) teachers are not audio engineers.