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Classroom Capture

Jan 30, 2013 11:37 AM, By Don Kreski

Automated webcasting systems are the focus of classroom upgrades.

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Installing the Systems

Once the decisions were made on what to install, Leavitt was surprised how quickly and smoothly the AV installation went. “From start to finish, the project took just six weeks, and that was for six classrooms on two campuses,” Leavitt says. CompView finished the install in time for fall 2011 classes, and after a year of use, Leavitt says he’s only seen minor maintenance issues. He has never had a system or system component unusable for a class.

Part of the system’s success was a forgiving design that anticipates user errors. For example, for the best possible audio, CompView included a wireless Shure lavalier mic in each classroom. If a professor forgets to use it or does not wish to, a podium mic and ceiling-mounted Shure MX202 mics will pick up his or her voice. “We installed the ceiling mics primarily to capture questions from students sitting in the classrooms, but they have this fail-safe function as well,” Lewis explains.

Building a failure-proof AV system can be somewhat more costly than one that is not, but Lewis feels it’s worthwhile. “The Vaddio camera, for example, is a better camera than others we might choose, but its extra cost is low compared to the total for the classroom system,” he says.

Leavitt says his only regret is in not installing two cameras in each classroom, with the second picking up images of the students as they participate. “That would be especially helpful now, as we’re looking at adding two-way video so that guest speakers can address our classes without having to travel to campus” he explains. Lewis, on the other hand, says accommodating this need will not be a problem. “Plans change and ideas grow once people start using new technology, but that’s OK. We build flexibility into our designs, and we can easily add another camera or a videoconferencing codec,” he says.

Leavitt believes the new systems are proving themselves every day. “Ours can be a tough curriculum and classes can be intense at times. Having the ability to review a concept as many times as you need to is a valuable resource,” he says. Leavitt adds, “The installation has been fantastic. CompView did a great job. The video is really good, the streaming is working great, and we have good buy-in and feedback from faculty and students. I’m really happy that we made this investment.”

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