Commercial Integrator 2023 - 54

Education
Three Options for
Equipping Your Campus
Considering the benefits and drawbacks of integrated systems,
all-in-one solutions and production studios. By Joe Way, PhD, CTS
THE ABILITY TO COLLABORATE, stream and leverage unified
communications in classrooms is here to stay. " Brick and mortar "
is now " brick, mortar and cloud. " The way it works in praxis for
every institution varies greatly, but the modality is now foundational.
Schools may choose fully integrated classroom systems,
all-in-one solutions or dedicated production studios to provide
their remote and hybrid content. There is no wrong choice -
only what meets the given need. Let's examine each option.
Integrated Systems
Integrated systems take a holistic approach to incorporating
UC&C into classrooms. I define " integrated AV systems " as a set
of hardware and software components that work together to
provide a seamless audio and visual experience in a given space.
These systems might include components such as projectors,
screens, displays, cameras, mics, speakers, mixers, amps and
control panels. There might be multiple options for connectivity
and other necessary components to create a complete space
that seamlessly serves the user. These are " integrated " and programmed
to work together to provide a cohesive AV experience.
The goal of an integrated system is to provide a frictionless
learning experience that enhances communication and engagement
in the classroom or lecture hall via a permanent install.
Pros: Integrated systems are easier to scale and standardize
across an enterprise. The ability to create both a consistent
user interface and a consistent user experience equates to less
resources needed to support the spaces. Integrated systems
also allow for greater automation. For example, upon the room
starting up, cameras and microphones can automatically record
and stream to the institution's preferred collaboration platform.
Auto-tracking cameras and whiteboard capture devices mean
that faculty members do not have to be skilled video producers
to capture and send content to remote participants. Lastly,
these systems allow for more flexibility in the use of the space,
regardless of the need for collaboration tools.
Cons: Although the space leverages UC&C technologies in
order to allow for remote participation, the focus nevertheless
remains on the physical space. The in-room experience tends
to take precedence because it's more natural to teach to people
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Commercial Integrator JUNE 2023
Post-pandemic, higher-education institutions are investing in
integrated systems, all-in-one solutions and production studios.
who are physically sharing the same space. Likewise, digital
equity becomes an issue when remote participants are not offered
the same experience that those present in the classroom
are offered. Often, for effective synchronous learning, a teaching
assistant, who can monitor chat and far-end participation, is
required. Finally, although the support needs over time are lower,
integrated systems have a higher initial cost of entry. The additional
equipment, need for infrastructure, facilities assistance,
and labor for integration and commissioning the system can be
cost prohibitive for smaller institutions and at scale.
All-In-One Solutions
All-in-one solutions are the modern equivalent of the " hang
and bang. " However, they have very specific purposes in mind:
remote communication, collaboration and annotation. An all-inone
AV solution is a self-contained audio and video system that
includes all the necessary components in one integrated unit.
These components include the screen, camera (often a smart
tracking camera), speakers, microphone, digital whiteboarding,
and Zoom and/or Microsoft Teams built in. These systems are
designed for ease of use, quick setup, simplified UI and even portability.
They are typically appropriate for small meeting rooms,
conference rooms, seminar rooms and smaller classrooms.
Overall, an all-in-one solution is a convenient and user-friendly
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