Hybrid Learning – Today and for the Future

Regardless of the preferences of teachers or students, due to the current Covid-19 pandemic, virtually every educational institution worldwide has experienced a situation where either part of a class, or in many cases entire classes have not been present in-person for extended periods during the school year due to quarantine or other restrictive measures. Clearly, maintaining high standards of education is of paramount importance.

WolfVision has found that customer needs are often not only driven by a necessity to urgently address the current challenges, but also by a desire to explore how new innovations could be introduced into teaching methodology that are also beneficial for the longer term. For all of us, there is a huge amount to learn about what education infrastructure will look like in the future.

We share here, information on how three customers in the UK are addressing these challenges, using WolfVision Cynap and document camera systems as an integral part of their hybrid learning audio visual infrastructure.

See the WolfVision Partner Page in the FLEXspace portal with several of their detailed campus examples (requires portal login).

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WolfVision is a proud FLEXspace Partner – See their collection of learning spaces in FLEXspace

Loughborough University, United Kingdom:

In-person, remote, and hybrid learning using WolfVision Cynap and document camera systems

The Loughborough installation involved several hundred devices; it is essential to be able to manage and maintain them remotely over the university network.

Loughborough University is proud of its long history as an institution of further and higher education, and thanks to the vision of its founding father, Dr Herbert Schofield, it has grown and developed into one of the UK’s leading universities. It offers academic excellence in a wide range of disciplines, from sport and exercise science to engineering, business, and the arts, and it is top 7 in every national university league table in the UK. It was named University of the Year in 2019 by The Times and The Sunday Times newspapers, and is the first university to have received this award twice.

Loughborough University has an international reputation for sporting excellence, including performance, facilities, expertise and working partnerships. In the 2016 Olympics, winning 12 medals, including 5 golds meant that if Loughborough University had been a country it would have been in 17th place on the medal table!

A WolfVision customer for more than 12 years, Loughborough uses WolfVision document cameras (also known as Visualizers) as a standard in 130 standard teaching spaces. Installed in classrooms of all sizes, including the new STEM laboratory, and in The School of Arts (where large format screens are used), around 200 WolfVision cameras are in daily use including VZ-8, VZ-8neo, VZ-3neo, and EYE-14 models. All installed systems are also linked to Microsoft Teams to enhance the online remote, and hybrid teaching and learning experience. Simply using the document camera as a source enables ‘live’ on-screen content to be easily added to MS Teams sessions whenever it is required. Many of the installed cameras are mounted directly onto the lectern and are used together with WolfVision dry-erase working surfaces, which in addition to allowing the display of physical materials, also facilitate high-quality display and capture of ‘live’ handwritten content.

Recording of lectures plays an important part at Loughborough, and all document camera systems are linked to the Panopto video platform, which The University uses for lecture capture and video management. The cameras are particularly popular for use in recordings where handwritten notes are displayed on-screen. With recordings made of virtually all lessons, Loughborough University currently makes around 55,000 lecture recordings per year, using dedicated hardware capture appliances.

“The quality and build of WolfVision products is excellent, and in my experience, far exceeds any competitor products we have tested. We continually assess the market to see if alternatives are available, but WolfVision always stands out. Their document camera and Cynap products are intuitive to use, easy to setup, reliable and built to last. They are essential tools in our classrooms.” Aaron Turlington-Smith. AV Manager, Loughborough University

Loughborough has also standardized on Cynap Pure wireless presentation systems from WolfVision, with currently around 40 installed appliances. These are used for wireless BYOD presentations from smartphones, laptops, and tablets, primarily in the library, student study pods and other collaborative working areas. Cynap Pure’s ease of use and wireless BYOD connectivity has helped to significantly reduce maintenance calls and further installations are planned for other teaching spaces in the next few months.

Looking to the future, with the current trend towards online and hybrid learning modality, as a Panopto user, the Cynap Core Pro with its Panopto compatible interface could be a possible solution as Loughborough explores ways to further improve the quality of its recorded content materials. The ability to add multi-source digital media, plus camera sources into lecture recordings could potentially provide the next step in further enhancing the teaching and learning experience for both face-to-face and remote lesson participants. 

University of Westminster, London, UK:

Synchronous hybrid learning environments using Cynap systems

The AVoIP was a benefit for Westminster – they could now easily choose between in-person, hybrid, and online learning using a single device on the network.

During the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond, maintaining high quality online content is more important than ever before, and simplifying how it is produced and distributed is a key requirement. Hybrid classroom solutions using WolfVision Cynap systems are able to provide a flexible blend of  in-person, remote, and on-demand learning.

University of Westminster in London addresses the problem of how to teach laboratory classes during the current pandemic using Cynap systems in its Life Sciences Department. To facilitate in-person teaching where it is available, Cynap’s streaming capability is used to live stream lesson content between different laboratories allowing students to safely occupy multiple labs, facilitating proper social distancing. 

Each Laboratory has a Cynap to send and manage network streams from the other rooms, whilst also providing all the app-free, dongle-free, cable-free BYOD connectivity and collaboration tools that Cynap offers. Existing AMX control systems are used to control Cynap from the lectern and Cynap‘s HTML5 browser control also offers the possibility of ‘touchless’ control from mobile devices.

This hybrid learning environment also enables students who cannot attend lectures to join classes from home.  University of Westminster also uses Cynap as a capture device for its Panopto video platform, scheduling recordings in each laboratory, and making them available for on-demand use by students. This is a key benefit, particularly during periods where disruption to teaching schedules remains a possibility.

Commenting on the installation, Vissen Limbeea, Classroom Teaching Development Manager at University of Westminster said, “We had complex requirements to enable socially distant laboratory sessions to take place across multiple labs, as well as allowing offsite students to join in, and provide on-demand viewing of the sessions.

I chose Cynap because it allowed us to meet all the requirements while reducing complexity and is easy to use. It enables streaming of high quality, low latency audio and video between the labs, allowed offsite students to join in via video conferencing and recording, and direct upload to our video platform for on-demand viewing.

The system is flexible, allowing us to teach using multiple sources including PC, laptop, microscope, document camera, BYOD and multiple cameras which includes a wired webcam, networked IP cameras and wireless cameras using mobile devices. Being one device simplified the installation and drastically reduced potential points of failure. The system is so versatile and easy to use, that when the labs are not used for teaching, it allows our tutors to record and produce teaching materials using multiple sources and cameras without technical assistance or video editing knowledge. As ever, the team at Wolfvision were excellent in providing assistance, and despite a late start to the project, and tight deadlines, the system was ready for the beginning of term.”

University of Edinburgh

VZ-C6 Visualizers in use during online and hybrid learning classes

The University of Edinburgh is the sixth oldest university in the United Kingdom and is one of Scotland’s ancient universities. With five main campuses in the city of Edinburgh, and with Nobel laureates, Olympic champions, space explorers and prime ministers among its noted alumni, the University has been influencing history since it opened the gates to its first students in 1583.

The University Library pre-dates the university by three years. Founded in 1580, its collection has grown to become the largest university library in Scotland with over 2.5 million volumes.

The Centre for Research Collections (CRC) is responsible for providing access to the University of Edinburgh’s cultural and heritage collections. With archived materials ranging from medieval manuscripts to contemporary art, this unique combination of collections is an invaluable resource for teaching within the University, and it attracts researchers from around the world. WolfVision VZ-C6 Ceiling Visualizers, installed in teaching spaces, and controlled conveniently using a connected PC, are used during online and hybrid teaching sessions to assist with the display of rare books, manuscripts, and archives at CDC.

Since switching to a hybrid learning modality during the Covid-19 pandemic, not all students are present on campus, and the WolfVision Visualizers are used to facilitate the continuation of object-based learning online.

Academic and specialist staff can show archival documents in their entirety, zooming in closely enough for students to see not just text and handwriting in fine detail, but also details of paper and binding. The Visualizers are also used as part of the University’s online engagement activities, for example during public talks about the collections.

WolfVision‘s Synchronized Lightfield allows for very easy and intuitive positioning of objects during classes. The illuminated part of the working surface is always identical to the pick-up area of the camera, so a user always knows exactly where to place objects or documents. When zooming in and out, the size of this lightfield changes accordingly. Additionally, VZ-C6 Ceiling Visualizers are equipped with a wide-angle camera lens providing a very high depth of focus. This means that even when working with larger 3-dimensional objects, even at high magnification, on-screen images are always sharp from top to bottom.

“It was important to us that the Visualizers could integrate seamlessly with the University‘s existing infrastructure, in particular Blackboard

Collaborate and Microsoft Teams. It was also important that the equipment was easy to use, as this minimizes the time that support staff need to spend training and

troubleshooting with staff using the equipment for the first time.” Francesca Baseby, CRC Services Manager.

“Teaching with collections is a significant service delivered at the Centre for Research Collections but this type of in-person activity is not possible in light of COVID-19. The

WolfVision Visualizers have enabled us to keep delivering such a vital service, and we plan to continue to use the Visualizers going forward for distance teaching.”

Commenting on the installation  Martin Wilson from Audio Light Systems  said “We were requested to install the ceiling mounted VZ-C6 Visualizers by Edinburgh University after a successful demo from WolfVision of the unit. We were tasked with installing the units on the ceiling whilst maintaining a discreet and neat looking finish. The included brackets helped to achieve a secure and straight forward install. This also allowed us to hide all cabling to the unit and not draw any additional focus on the unit. The client was very happy with the finished install and positive feedback was received even after its first use!“

More information and contact: Website: www.wolfvision.com, Email: sales@wolfvision.us, Tel: (770) 931-6802

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