Helping our customers deliver effective learning throughout lockdowns while preparing for a post-pandemic UK
With careful planning, and using the generous space our multi-site business can offer, we were able to remain fully operational from the outbreak of the pandemic and throughout.
As lockdown 1.0 began to bite we saw a huge surge in the need for, and supply of, the equipment required to work, teach and learn more effectively remotely. This included consumer and professional webcams and USB audio headsets.
By us addressing this immediate need allowed our customers to adjust to what we all hoped would be temporary change of circumstance. Our sales teams across the country worked with our key education clients to assess the most pragmatic and effective ways to virtualise the teaching experience. The timing was such that this would dramatically change the scope and landscape for many of the already planned Easter and Summer works.
A new Hybrid / Blended teaching environment was born!
One such key customer, a University in the South West, had geared up for a massive upgrade path encompassing a full refresh of rooms spanning the Easter and Summer traditional installation periods.
We were literally mid-way through surveying 17 Lecture Theatres when lockdown fell. Unsurprisingly we quickly switched focus to the development and acceleration of the ‘Hybrid’ seminar space.
The impact on the ability to teach within most education establishments became very evident. Huge challenges faced by our customers who needed to deliver learning while adhering to social distancing guidelines. New spaces needed to be created quickly where lecturers could provide an excellent experience for the limited number of students in the room and a much improved experience for their remote participants.
The result was 50 brand new, ‘hybrid enabled’ teaching spaces deployed. Dependent on the size of the room these featured single or dual front display screens together with voice reinforcement when applicable. Each had the addition of a rear camera, ceiling microphone, plus new lectern making the system easy to use, responsive and unobtrusive in design. The camera feed and audio is captured by the content delivery PC and fed to Teams for the remote participants.
Ordinarily these rooms cater for between a 20 and 60 student capacity, due to social distancing guidelines, though currently they are down to around 20% of this, in some cases even less, making the ‘Hybrid’ flexibility within the room vital for the ongoing teaching at the University.
However, with even more stringent lockdown measures seen across the UK, systems in place also needed to cater for remote lectures and lecturers who need to conduct their teaching sessions from separate offices or, more challengingly, from their home, loft or garden office. This benefits from fast remote internet connections and the use of suitable, matched hardware. This can be a little more difficult to manage, though by our provision of appropriate external camera and microphone devices the student experience is still optimised.
We know that for all sorts of social and interaction reasons it is highly desirable for students to be able to attend lectures and teaching in person, when considered safe and appropriate to do so. If for any reason this is impractical, unsafe or against guidance then, just like the lecture capture evolution, the new ‘hybrid’ solutions we have deployed and offer now provide the flexibility to manage these challenges.
This is an additional positive selling point for any University that has invested in our solutions as it allows best flexibility and contingency for whatever the next 12 months or more may demand. As part of the hybrid learning programme, this may well open up additional options for offsite only courses or engagement where a student could select to ‘learn from home’ partially or exclusively.
With the content being captured more professionally the University now has new options around how they publish and share their knowledge together with choices about the learning models they offer, when and to whom.
So what happened to the 17 Lecture Theatres that were aborted? For all the reasons shared, they are now being revisited with the ‘hybrid’ specification upgrade, so we look forward to yet more of our customers being able to offer learning with best flexibility when needed.
What is certain is the Education sector and the AV industry has risen quickly to meet the challenges of the pandemic and the restrictions that have had to be enforced. As we move towards a post-pandemic UK, then our customers adopting newly configured flexible spaces, appropriate Audio Visual technologies and embracing these new ways of working, can achieve real choice and benefits for their learning, student and commercial models.
Contact us now to see how we can help you with flexible and hybrid AV solutions to fit your needs.