University Equips Classrooms with Vaddio EasyIP for HyFlex Learning
Vancouver Island University is a public university located in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada. The university is home to over 18,000 learners and employs over 2,000 faculty and staff members.
As British Columbia launched its Restart Plan to bring citizens back together, on-campus instruction resumed with best-practice prevention measures in place. With some students learning in the classroom, some learning online, and some attending a combination of online and in-person classes, Vancouver Island University needed to create a learning plan that offered a consistent experience for all students.
For the 2021/2022 school year, the administrative team at Vancouver Island University required that all classes fit into its new HyFlex model. HyFlex combines Hybrid and Flexible and creates a more accessible learning environment. HyFlex gives students the option to participate face-to-face in the classroom, face-to-face via live videoconference, or asynchronously through a recorded lecture.
The University’s AV Technicians, Jeff Egan and Sabin Ignat, knew that their classrooms were not equipped to facilitate the new HyFlex requirements and began to look for a solution. Classrooms were already outfitted with projectors, screens, speaker systems, and instructor stations that contained a PC, monitor, and Extron Controller. A limited number of classrooms also had microphones, but Jeff and Sabin would receive complaints from students and staff that the audio did not sound clear for remote participants.
“When I was looking at different setups, the thing that I was looking for was ease of setup,” said Jeff. Working with local integrator Greg Johnston-Watson at Matrix Video Communications Corporation, Jeff and Sabin chose Vaddio EasyIP products to be installed alongside their existing equipment. “The beauty of this product is the flexibility, there are other products with a range of mics, but they are a little bit pricier and not as flexible,” said Sabin.
Jeff and Sabin installed Vaddio systems in 25 classrooms in under two weeks working with the help of a single installer from their local AV integrator. A typical-sized classroom’s standard setup is one EasyIP 10 PTZ camera, two EasyIP CeilingMIC D microphones, and an EasyIP Mixer for audio mixing and camera switching. Vaddio cameras and ceiling microphones ship with mounting hardware and cables to make ordering and installations easier. “It’s just nice to have all those pieces when you order it together, especially with the mounting hardware, because when you start adding that up when you have to do it piecemeal, it just adds a lot more work and cost,” said Jeff.
With some extra money in the budget, they added an additional camera and two additional microphones to some of the larger lecture halls. “All we had to do for that was add a couple more cables and buy a couple more mics - don’t have to do anything else,” said Jeff. “Yeah, that’s the flexibility,” agreed Sabin. Having two cameras in a classroom allows them to switch between a view of the presenter and one of the students. Additional microphones provide broader coverage of the room so that a presenter can move about freely and in-room student questions and comments can be heard clearly on recordings and live streams.
Another aspect they liked was the touch-free nature of the CeilingMICs. Previous systems included microphones that needed frequent cleaning, which caused the rubber coating to degrade over time – same with remote controls. Jeff set up camera controls and presets on their Extron controllers and said, “it was super intuitive to program into our system… that was really a selling point for me.”
Jeff has noticed more students taking advantage of the distance learning options since the adoption of the new system. Sabin noted, “another major advantage is that they can have exchanges of lectures, inviting teachers from other universities and also even inviting other students or potential future students.”
Jeff and Sabin used the free Vaddio Deployment Tool software download to set up and program the devices on their network. They can use the application to monitor the systems if they need to troubleshoot or make adjustments. “They were extremely easy to install and just as easy to set up,” said Jeff, “the best part is we have had zero complaints once people know how to run Zoom using them.”
Because they could integrate Vaddio equipment with their existing systems, instructors did not have much of a learning curve. “So often when we put stuff in, if there’s any sort of issues with it, we hear about it,” said Jeff, “it’s been great. If we’re not getting any complaints about it, then that’s good news.”
Vaddio EasyIP 10
Vaddio EasyIP Mixer
Vaddio EasyIP CeilingMIC D
Vaddio EasyIP Switch
Matrix Video Communications Corporation in Victoria