Seneca Polytechnic, AVer Create Immersive Hybrid Learning Environments

AVer AI and PTZ cameras create an immersive, hybrid experience for in-person and online students at Seneca Polytechnic.
(Image credit: AVer)

Home to more than 30,000 full-time students, Seneca Polytechnic is a multi-campus postsecondary institution with locations in Toronto, York Region and Peterborough, Ontario in Canada. Like many instructions, with the COVID-19 pandemic caused Seneca to close its doors and determine how to provide faculty with continued education for students during this period. As the pandemic impact lessened, more programs and courses were converted to hybrid and flexible formats, which is where AVer’s TR530 30X AI Auto Tracking and Live Streaming Camera changed the experience for in-person and online students.  

“We were tasked to implement technologies into our classroom to allow faculty to continue to teach in-person while providing our students with the ability to connect from home or anywhere remotely, if they could not attend in-person courses,” said Alvin Shum, director, service delivery, Seneca Polytechnic. “Our goal was to implement hybrid learning technology into 20 percent of our classrooms across campus.”

In order to support new learning formats, Seneca collaborated with academic stakeholders, schedulers, and facilities to add technology to classrooms and labs across its campuses. Notably, Seneca required a software-agnostic solution with seamless connectivity with online collaboration tools, including Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Cisco, WebEx and Big Blue Button. Seneca selected AVer’s TR530 30X AI Auto Tracking and Live Streaming Camera to provide the flexibility for faculty to leave the stage and interact with students, all while being continuously tracked even if they become obscured by other people or objects.

Featuring PTZ Link, the cameras are easily expanded into voice-tracking devices through setting present points. By eliminating extensive programming, PTZ Link enables users to add devices and turn on voice tracking with any AVer TR and PTZ series cameras and microphones from select partners.

Originally, Seneca implemented a single AVer TR530 30X AI Auto Tracking and Live Streaming Camera. “We first tested it as a single-camera solution for our hybrid learning classrooms,” said Jason Cousins, manager, technical support and interactive technology, Seneca Polytechnic. “However, we wanted to implement a second camera to provide more collaboration equity to our remote students.” After discussing several options with fellow colleges and educational institutions, the team at Seneca determined that a second camera would provide collaboration equity for in-person and remote learning participants. 

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“We integrated AVer’s TR530 to face the faculty members and AVer’s PTZ330 pointing to the audience, which allows our remote participants to see the interaction within the classroom, especially when someone is speaking,” Cousins added. As a result, students who participate remotely can access the same in-person experience due to the integrated technology.  

AVer’s TR530 is a powerful PTZ camera featuring 30X optical zoom and a secondary 120-degree FOV panoramic camera to provide crystal-clear full HD video resolutions. Featuring stage tracking technology, the TR530 enables users to fluidly track a target with effective zone settings, allowing up to eight blocking zones to capture strategic, professional-looking video. Additionally, segment tracking allows for immediate recognition and tracking of the target as they move between four pre-configurable content zones, perfectly capturing the content on display rather than the presenter.

Combining superior video quality and versatile functions, AVer’s PTZ330 features resounding image quality with 30X optical zoom and full HD 1080p at 60fps to capture crystal-clear footage. With SmartShoot technology, the PTZ330 optimizes the camera controls for automatic and seamless content capturing between preset areas. AVer’s SmartFrame also provides one-touch face-targeting technology to create stunning video content quickly. SmartFrame instantly adjusts the FOV to fit everyone on screen at stunning speed, enabling seamless recording of presentations, lectures and more with no hassle. 

”We required a dynamic solution to follow the instructor or faculty around the room, and the TR and PTZ series cameras allow our faculty to naturally engage with students in their classrooms without feeling confined to their desks or podiums because of the video camera,” said Cousins.

AVer’s 30X AI Auto Tracking camera is incredibly useful for demonstration purposes, too. “We developed mobile carts featuring AVer’s AI Auto Tracking camera, which provides our faculty with another layer of flexibility,” Cousins said. ”Our School of Fire Protection Engineering Technology includes a lab that is fully equipped with water sprinklers. We couldn’t integrate technology into the room because the sprinklers would cause water damage. We’ve created mobile carts that can be relocated. The faculty member can light a match, which triggers the water sprinklers. The water will start coming down, but the faculty member can move the cart around the room to avoid the water while continuing to demonstrate the materials.”

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By updating the spaces, Seneca successfully created an immersive experience for students, participating both online and in-person, and for instructors to deliver the course successfully using the updated technology. Furthermore, Seneca recorded increased usage from 2021 to 2022, representing an increase from 50 hybrid classes to more than 700 hybrid courses across the institution.

“We’ve created a permanent, standardized solution for hybrid learning,” said Shum. “We will continue to offer hybrid learning programs, and we are continuing to grow and expand our technology integration to add new classrooms and laboratories.” Currently, more than 450 classrooms and laboratories, have been equipped with a standardized hybrid learning solution.

“Most importantly, the faculty has adopted the technology,” Shum said, noting that faculty were provided training to overcome potential barriers. “We continue to provide weekly training sessions to provide faculty with the expertise and resources to easily utilize the hybrid learning technology. As a result, many of our faculty members have enhanced their curriculum.”

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.