Emerging Technology (Enhancing, Engaging, Connecting)

AV Technology and Active Learning

AV technology

Increasingly, higher education institutions are building classrooms and learning spaces that integrate the latest audiovisual technologies to create environments that help better engage and educate students while also providing them with the hands-on experience with digital tools they are likely to use in their future careers.

This was the key message delivered in a recent Inside Higher Ed webinar panel, presented by AVIXA, the Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association. The webinar featured AVIXA Senior Director of Communications Brad Grimes, The Sextant Group Principal Craig Park, Dartmouth College Academic Technologist Emmett Frank, and Florida State University Director of Academic Technology & Systems Aiden Sizemore.

A Shift to Active Learning

Over the last decade, many higher education institutions have shifted toward an active-learning model, says Park. “We want to look at technology as a supporting function to deliver improved learning outcomes,” he explains. “For the University of Missouri–Kansas City’s new Henry Bloch School of Management, the dean didn’t want just another business school. Instead he wanted a facility where professionals, students, and faculty can work together to plan and develop new ideas.”

The new management school’s various rooms integrate projectors, touchscreens, large-format LCD displays, and interactive whiteboards to deliver flexible environments that help prepare students for realworld careers that increasingly utilize the same technologies.

It has been crucial to choose technologies that provide consistent and reliable experiences throughout all spaces and rooms at Dartmouth College, Frank explains, because many classrooms are shared among diverse departments. “A guiding principle is that we want technology to help provide features that permit students to work both individually and collaboratively while facilitating communication and interaction between students and faculty.”

Frank demonstrated how one of Dartmouth’s active-learning classrooms offers 17 collaborative stations with discrete controls that allow students to share content with the whole class or with individual students. Each station includes connections for students’ laptops and mobile devices, plus overhead speakers that allow students to control the volume of videos and presentations in their specific location.

“Silsby 213 is probably the only room on campus with two displays on opposing walls,” Frank adds. “Each display has its own set of discrete controls, wireless gateways, and audio zone, so in essence the class could start off as a presentation, then be split into two groups with each working with its own audio and video.”

In larger rooms, microphones and cameras support lecture capture, while additional digital tools allow students to share content to two main projection displays in the front of the room.

Integrating Technology

According to Sizemore, Florida State University looks at three main areas for technology integration: lecture capture, event capture, and the overall visual content-creation process. “We installed additional microphones and cameras,” he says, “so that when we capture classroom content we can switch between multiple views in real time, and then have more recorded footage available to repurpose for future audiences.”

Sizemore also noted how some classrooms enable students to have live interactions with remote speakers, which allows educators to include outside experts in their curricula.

According to Grimes, the higher education market can realize enormous benefits through thoughtful integration of audiovisual technologies. “It is not just technology for technology’s sake, but technology optimized for the space and the situation,” he says. “This includes supplementing lectures, distance learning, visualization, communication, collaboration, and even entertainment, because we believe the right combination of content, space, and technology creates an experience that improves outcomes.”

Changing expectations and methods among students and educators has prompted colleges and universities of all disciplines to integrate audiovisual technologies that deliver flexible learning spaces and encourage active learning. Whether lessons are based on lectures, individual work, or collaboration, audiovisual technologies provide powerful and easy-to-use tools that expand what is possible and help reach every student to best prepare them for their future careers.

To watch the entire Inside Higher Ed webinar, visit avixa.org/IHEwebinar.

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2019 issue of College Planning & Management.

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