Connecting teachers and students to make education more engaging

Barco’s weConnect wireless collaboration and active learning solution is designed for students who have grown up in a world shaped by the internet of things (IoT)
By: | Issue: November/December, 2019 | Case Study
September 16, 2019
Barco’s weConnect Virtual Classroom installed at IESE Business School.

For several years, leaders at King’s College—a small, private liberal arts institution in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania—wanted to develop a teaching environment driven by wireless collaboration, but they did not believe the available industry products matched that vision.

Raymond Pryor, managing director of user services at King’s College, says the school tried a number of solutions before finding weConnect from Barco. “When Barco developed weConnect, we felt we had finally found the right product,” Pryor says.

Barco weConnect is a cloud-based wireless collaboration solution that supports a BYOD environment through seamless network integration. It promotes active learning through classroom interaction for both in-room and remote participants, which creates a centrally managed, connected and collaborative campus.

BYOD functionality

When Pryor searched for a wireless solution a couple of years ago, he tried a few different vendors before ultimately connecting with Barco, which had a product matching his BYOD vision.

“Barco weConnect takes 5-7 minutes per device to get up and running, so that is a win-win situation for students and teachers,” he says.

“Barco weConnect takes 5-7 minutes per device to get up and running, so that is a win-win situation for students and teachers.”

In a typical weConnect space, a collaboration lab features student pods with a display, and the instructor is typically positioned in the center. With weConnect, the instructor can use a computer, for example, to display content on any device in the room, including student laptops, tablets or smartphones. The instructor can also leverage features such as quizzes, polls, questions, and push and pull content to a large display in the room.

Barco weConnect works with nearly every operating system, making it ideal for King’s College, and similar institutions, with a BYOD approach to student computing, Pryor says.

“Hands down, Barco offered the best solution with weConnect,” Pryor adds.

Embraced by faculty

Pryor says he identified a cross section of five or six faculty members to start the implementation process, but it took off quickly. Pryor is now constantly configuring more classrooms with weConnect.

“When faculty became comfortable with the product, the energy level went through the roof,” Pryor says.

“I provided Barco with a lot of feedback from faculty, especially around the addition of features, and Barco was very responsive.”

Successful integration

Pryor says weConnect is changing how certain courses are taught. For instance, a faculty member in the accounting department talked about how to change introductory course curricula to incorporate weConnect. This kind of successful integration is helping the investment pay off for King’s College, especially as the institution looks toward the future.
“It’s very simple,” Pryor says. “Any project or configuration of any classroom is going to have the Barco weConnect implemented. Period.”

Developing the skills of the future for teachers and students

How colleges can leverage collaborative learning spaces to achieve successful learning outcomes

Q&A with Ellen Van de Woestijne, Segment Marketing Director, Barco

What new skills and tools are needed in higher education?
We will all need better technology literacy and skills in the future, but we will also have to develop soft skills that cannot be automated. To be an effective workforce, it’s widely agreed that we need to develop and become more proficient in problem-solving, creativity, social skills and relationship building, initiative, and teamwork and team building.

How can these skills and tools be enhanced in collaborative spaces?
Regardless of whether it’s to develop problem-solving or teamwork, higher education is flipping the classroom and adopting more active learning styles. Technology’s role in education must be to provide tools that are easy to use and highly effective at establishing new and engaging learning environments. With successful collaboration tools, higher education can make blended learning a reality, facilitating group projects and interactive lesson content. Teamwork can occur across geographies, across subject disciplines and across institutions. Teams can reach across the campus, outside the building or even around the world.

“With successful  collaboration tools, higher education  can make blended  learning a reality,  facilitating group projects and  interactive lesson content.”

How do collaborative learning spaces foster better learning outcomes?
The right technology can help to create a collaborative learning space, where it is far more likely that successful learning outcomes will be achieved. Working together, learners can fill in gaps in their knowledge, develop their skills, and step up their understanding and learning outcomes. Collaborative learning spaces offer an opportunity to build and develop the new skills that are needed in today’s corporate environments.

How can colleges help students achieve better outcomes?
Barco’s weConnect leverages collaborative learning spaces to achieve successful learning outcomes. Barco weConnect is a subscription-based service that offers functionality, such as quizzing, polling, questions and chat, that gives the instructor complete control of the collaborative experience. Barco weConnect also encourages group-based learning and builds students’ social skills, which are critical in today’s workplace. Barco weConnect Virtual Classroom takes this concept to a new level by including remote and online learners and giving them the same experience as in-class students. Virtual Classroom employs the same software as weConnect for quizzing, polls, questions and chat, and allows remote learners to go into breakout rooms for group-based active learning.

For more information, please visit barco.com/education


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