Teachers today have a host of powerful new methods and technologies in their toolbox, including learning studios, BYOD and various collaborative devices. Yet how effectively are they able to use them may be an open question. Recognizing that, the University of Idaho commissioned CompView to design a collaboration room for the hands-on training of Idaho elementary, middle school and high school teachers, as well as their own professors and staff.
- Include the latest collaborative technologies:
- Interactive touchscreen/whiteboard presentation tools
- Video annotation tools
- Learning-studio group communication/presentation tools
- Tablet-based BYOD file sharing & presentations
- Open up sessions to students/teachers at remote locations.
- Record training sessions and make them available for later editing and webcasting.
- Create a flexible “hardware agnostic” setup, where it will be relatively easy to add new tools (many of which may not yet be invented) as they become available.
There are five “collaboration centers” that seat up to six people. Each station has a 55” SMART or 60” Sharp touch display and a dedicated iPad at the table for controlling that display. Participants sit at the tables and plug in their own computers to display what’s on their screens. Or they can use the AppleTV device to share content from iPads or iPhones. One workstation has a Vaddio pan/tilt/zoom camera to record interactions and to enable remote participation via Skype or another application.
The CompView project manager explains, “This design is successful because it accounts for the use of interactive technology in a fashion that is device independent, easily moves audio and video around the classroom, allows for remote training, and is simple to use.”
An HDMI over IP network-based switching and distribution system allows sharing of any instructor or student screen to any or all displays in the classroom. This system is based on Just Add Power components and software, providing an affordable way to create a matrix setup, pushing virtually any number of high definition video and sources out to any number of endpoints (in this case 35 sources out to 15 displays and other devices).
The control network uses both USB and wireless networks. USB is most often used for interactive display devices, including those from SMART, Epson and Sharp, while the wireless control network allows instructors to take over the students’ tablets and laptops.
The recording system is based on a BlackMagic Design digital recorder that can record in several formats appropriate for online viewing or for non-linear editing systems the university uses for postproduction. The sound system with wireless microphones is based on a Biamp DSP programmed to handle more than 30 program audio sources including far end audio.
The existing lab was designed to be picked up and moved when its new home is eventually built. “A year from now I could see us taking many or all of the collaboration stations, transitioning those into a classroom, and then trying out something new in the lab.” said Royce Kimmons, Doceo Director. “It’s a space where we’re constantly evolving, constantly innovating and trying new things.”
*Excerpts from “5 Lessons from a Learning Lab”, THE Journal, 7/09/14