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AV Challenges in Hybrid Classrooms

Due to Covid-19, university and college campuses around the country face the challenges of teaching both remote students and in-class students at the same time. One of the biggest challenges is reconfiguring classroom audiovisual systems to offer synchronous instruction. Several issues arise in this teaching environment. Do any of these sound familiar?

1. The Video Challenge

Using a laptop camera to show video of the instructor to remote students gets the job done, but severely limits the instructor's mobility and ability to interact with classroom students. The use of PTZ cameras mounted in the classroom can help, but without a live operator, they can only show a locked-down wide shot that is less than engaging for remote students. Without a camera operator, adding auto-tracking software to PTZ cameras provides the best option for keeping a consistent view of the instructor as they move around the classroom.

2. The Audio Challenge

Web platforms like Zoom allow sharing laptop content to remote students at home, while in-room projectors and interactive displays show content to students in the classroom. However, audio becomes an issue when remote students ask questions that you want classroom students to hear and for remote students to listen to students' questions in the classroom. Alpha Video provides classroom microphones and audio control systems that use a simple wall panel or touch-screen to allow instructors to control both classroom and remote audio. With a proper hybrid audio system, students in the classroom and students online clearly hear each other during class, making for a more engaged and interactive teaching experience.

3. The Production Challenge

Using web platforms like Zoom severely limits presentation production quality when streaming large campus-wide presentations and faculty meetings. There is little control of switching camera shots or inserting production graphics. There is also the challenge of keeping the presenters and video operators separate, with some working from home while others are on campus. With the latest NDI streaming protocol and virtualized production software, campus productions can bring back all of the production control and quality they once had while keeping everyone safe at separate locations. NDI allows for high-quality, low latency streaming, and virtualized production software will enable operators to switch and add graphics using their laptops. Besides using remote PTZ cameras on-site, there's no need to use on-premise switchers and graphic workstations to get the same production quality.

For more information about meeting the challenges of using AV in hybrid classrooms, please call Joe Thompson at 952-841-3393 or email Joe at joe.thompson@alphavideo.com