The image showed a classroom with tables encircled by nontraditional chairs sprawled out across a wide-open space. Multiple display screens hung on the walls.
“This looks expensive, but it’s not as expensive as you might think,” said Extron Electronics Technical Trainer Karl Rosenberg of the photo during his UB Tech® presentation on AV technology in collaborative learning spaces. The space uses fewer chairs than traditional classrooms and a collection of smaller TVs can be less expensive than one larger screen.
Rosenberg presented the photo to show examples of what he calls “learniture,” which allows students sit in circles or triangles to enhance communication and learning, and “technicture,” a piece of furniture that has technology built in “It’s important that students have access to power and connectivity no matter where they are in the classroom,” he said.
Displays and imagery
“How many displays should you put in a classroom? As many as possible,” said Rosenberg, adding that students are “multiscreen crazy.”
Rosenberg also advised educators to install screens that can display realistic images due to a phenomenon known as “racing towards realism.” Students can see the most realistic images from their phones, so if a school shows low-resolution content, for example, the institution “will look behind.”
Rosenberg explained four ways that schools need to deploy AV in every collaboration space.
1. Run cables
Teachers need USB cables to connect their main displays with various devices, such as cameras and microphones. But these cords should be shorter since running longer cables, or adding extensions and adapters, can cause connection issues. They also don’t need to be long because students can and want to connect wirelessly.
IT teams should also know about the USB tier budget. Essentially, using multiple USBs can cause certain devices to malfunction because it eats up the tier budget. A short-term solution involves bypassing the transceivers by unplugging the system. But devices that worked before could now malfunction at anytime.
2. Go wireless
A traditional Wi-Fi problem involves what Rosenberg called “step one.” “Anywhere you go, you connect to the Wi-Fi,” he said. When you have to enter a password, that adds another step.
Institutions can eliminate steps by using products that run on existing Wi-Fi.
Institutions normally choose so-called “rogue Wi-Fis” because they require a Wi-Fi password, but technologies that don’t have their own Wi-Fi still have security features such as access codes.
3. Use streaming technology
“If you are not prepared to livestream and record, then you could have an epic fail on your hands,” said Rosenberg. “Everybody wants to send a livestream or to stream a class.”
Unified collaboration services such as Zoom allow educators teaching Italian, for example, to connect with someone in Italy who speaks fluently. “This keeps students engaged,” he said.
Educators can use codec technology to limit the programs running in classrooms to the unified collaboration solution.
4. AV over IP
AV over IP allows control over what Rosenberg called “the magic triangle” using a network switch: focusing on image quality, bit rate and latency.
Codec technologies provide different levels of each part of the magic triangle. For example, security cameras have good image quality and latency, but low bit rates so as not to overload the system.
“There is no perfect answer,” said Rosenberg. “You can pick and choose what codec technology you want, but they can all adapt to the scenarios you need.”