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Navigating Pandemic Upheavals, Mexico’s La Salle Laguna U. Deploys Konftel Solutions to Connect Students, Teachers and Community at Large

La Salle Laguna
Of the 107 Konftel C20Ego videoconferencing kits installed throughout the LaSalle Laguna University campus, University Dean Luis Arturo Dávila de León said: ‘We wanted something that was easy to use and that allowed remote students to see professors and students in the classroom and interact as if they were in the same place.’ (Image credit: Konftel)

Universidad La Salle Laguna, located in the northwest Mexican state of Durango and serving 1,450 higher education students, knew it wanted to be a leader in using technology to deliver high-quality education in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. One of 15 La Salle University campuses in Mexico, La Salle Laguna was quick to furnish professors with laptop computers and web cameras at the start of the pandemic so online learning could continue but knew that as some students returned to classrooms while others stayed remote, laptop conferencing wouldn’t be enough.

“The laptop computers and cameras worked fine when everyone was at home, but when we decided to bring back half the students at a time, we needed technology that would create a better experience,” explains Luis Arturo Dávila de León, Dean of Universidad La Salle Laguna. “We wanted something that was easy to use and that allowed remote students to see professors and students in the classroom and interact as if they were in the same place.”

When the new school year began in August 2021, La Salle Laguna had installed 107 Konftel C20Ego videoconferencing kits throughout campus, controlled and monitored from a central location and ready to bring together remote and in-class students in a unified hybrid experience.

Almost as soon as professors and students began using the Konftel solution, university officials realized the technology could have an even greater impact by helping unite the surrounding community.

Setting a High Bar for Hybrid Learning

Universidad La Salle Laguna set a high bar: If it was going to embrace hybrid learning, the solution needed to fit seamlessly with the university’s commitment to exceptional education. Whatever enabling conferencing technology it chose couldn’t just make hybrid learning possible under the circumstances; it needed to match the outstanding learning experience that professors, students, and their families had come to expect before the pandemic.

“We needed a service that everyone would be happy with so that all our classes would retain their same high quality,” says Dávila.

University leadership turned to local technology integrator Orange Tech AVA and Konftel distribution partner Neocenter SA de CV to identify the best hybrid learning solution.

Orange Tech AVA had been testing the Konftel C20Ego to see if it would meet the university’s needs and determined it could support the seamless, integrated, easy-to-use classroom experience the administration required. The C20Ego is an all-in-one solution featuring a Konftel Cam20 4K conference camera, Konftel Ego speakerphone with OmniSound audio quality, and Konftel OCC Hub for connecting everything to a laptop with a single USB cable.

“Along with La Salle Laguna, we found that having a camera with a remote control, digital zoom, and presets is very useful in classrooms,” says Isaac Sedano, Director Comercial for Orange Tech AVA. “The speakerphone that comes with the Konftel C20Ego kit has the perfect reach for the classroom size, and teachers really appreciate the unique hub that allows them to easily connect everything to their laptop.”

Re-creating the In-Class Experience

The Konftel solution also supports easy, flexible installation--an important factor considering Orange Tech AVA would only have two months to integrate more than 100 systems. Although some education institutions might simply position the C20Ego on desks or AV carts and enjoy clear, high-performance collaboration, La Salle Laguna took it a step further to more closely mimic an in-class experience for everyone involved. Technicians at Orange Tech AVA hung ceiling mounts in the center of classrooms and installed the C20Ego components, as well as a flat-screen display, so that professors could address remote students on-screen and remote students could see everything taking place in the classroom.

“We took measurements so that the Konftel cameras and speakerphones are at the right height for professors and ran cables up through the mounts, so they aren’t visible,” explains Sedano. In addition, Orange Tech AVA ran acoustic and visual tests to maximize the high-quality sound and video from the Konftel solution for all participants. After a week of faculty training, the university was ready for hybrid learning.

“Using the conferencing technology is very comfortable,” says Samuel S. Ramírez Cortéz, a professor at the university. “It allows faculty a perfect combination of a virtual space with a physical classroom. It is easy to speak to remote and in-person students at the same time and use the blackboard or in-class computer very naturally.”

Universidad La Salle Laguna uses Google Classroom and Google Workspace as its primary online learning and collaboration platform, but Cortéz says staff occasionally uses Zoom and other services. Konftel technology is agnostic, allowing education institutions to use whatever collaboration platform they prefer for high-resolution conferences with ultra-clear sound quality.

“Feedback has been very positive,” Cortéz says. “The students at home don’t feel alone; teachers are still able to teach the way they know best; and parents trust the university because the technology proves our commitment to high-level teaching.”

Connecting to the Community

In the few short months that Universidad La Salle Laguna has been using Konftel conferencing technology in its classrooms not only has enrollment increased, but local associations, business groups, and others have been more engaged with the university because the technology makes it easy to collaborate. Some have even asked to use the university’s Konftel-enabled spaces for their own virtual meetings.

“We don’t just focus on academics. We play a role in fostering the broader society,” says Ivonne Escalera Leyva, who oversees external relations.

La Salle Laguna opens its physical and virtual doors for meetings, exhibitions, workshops, trainings, work meetings and more. It has an innovation park to connect students with local companies and collaborate on projects that benefit the region. The university is recognized for the strength of its academic programs in all the areas of knowledge it offers. It has 23 careers that meet specific needs in a buoyant region in all aspects, with national and international projection.

“The technology helps keep activities going and maintains connections with the community,” says Leyva. “We want to be in touch with other sectors that need to optimize their resources and adapt to the new reality.”

Dean Dávila credits the university’s ability to adapt for its success navigating the pandemic. That adaptability also continues to attract more students.

"The university continues to reinvent itself and does not remain static," he says. "If we are going to use new technology, we are going to use it well. That’s why we incorporate technology not only in the educational process, but also in academic monitoring processes, teaching performance, and above all, the time scheduled for the teaching of classes.”

The AVNetwork staff are storytellers focused on the professional audiovisual and technology industry. Their mission is to keep readers up-to-date on the latest AV/IT industry and product news, emerging trends, and inspiring installations.