• Wednesday , 20 October 2021

Introducing the Visual Learning Lab

Hybrid teaching rooms will be the norm going forward, especially within Higher and Further Education; these spaces enable remote students to share in the same learning experience as those in the room, and help provide better teaching outcomes for the lecturer. However, many of these hybrid teaching rooms are high-end, and can come with a fat six figure installation cost, limiting their appeal and wider adoption. Given the further squeeze on HE & FE budgets, is there an alternative, asks Intel’s Mark Frost.

The Visual Learning Lab (VLL) is a new concept and an alternative to provide hybrid teaching rooms at a more affordable price-point for the wider HE and FE market. Intel has collaborated with EdTech consultant Duncan Peberdy and a range of technology partners to create the first VLL which will be hosted by City of Glasgow College in 2021.

The collaboration to create a solution that is affordable without losing any of the practical affordances of something more expensive, and hasn’t just been between the technology partners.  At all stages of development, input from individual FE and HE experts has been incorporated, and the first deployment in Scotland is very much as a development project that the City of Glasgow College will be instrumental in.  Right from the inception, the vision for the VLL has been for this to be a solution for the sector, by the sector.

An essential element of the VLL is utilising standard components instead of a bespoke development; this enables the VLL to evolve and incorporate additional hardware and software components as its life cycle and usage scenarios develop.

Complete solution

The VLL is a complete solution that enables the lecturer to demonstrate and interact with students who are in-room or learning remotely, whilst at the same time being able to clearly see the remote students. The lecturer is further aided by a GDPR-compliant computer vision system to monitor in-room student engagement and social distancing.  The solution is comprised of the following elements:

  • Twin ViewSonic 65” Interactive Flat Panel Displays (IFPDs). The displays can operate individually or as one large screen and have a unique feature that allows the touch systems to be linked together to form a single large interactive canvas. The IFPDs are fixed side-by-side on a height adjustable floor mount to avoid the need to modify the building infrastructure. Both IFPDs are powered by a single slot-in Intel OPS PC, hosting the required operating system and software packages. ViewSonic also provide twin 24” displays for the lecturer podium which replicate the content shown on the main IFPDs.
  • Kramer VIA Campus2 Wireless Presentation and Collaboration. With any laptop or mobile device, users can view, edit and comment on documents in real time and record sessions. Meeting participants can display or stream full, uninterrupted video (up to 4K@60Hz) from their device. VIA Campus² can show up to six user screens on a single main display and 12 on two displays. Users can also view the main display on their own device.
  • AVer. AVer’s Pro AV PTZ camera will provide remote-based students with coverage of their tutor throughout the classroom, and their A3 visualiser can capture a wide variety of learning objects with the potential to reinforce theory in a compelling way.
  • SensingFeeling. SensingFeeling delivers advanced human behaviour sensing products powered by Computer Vision. Their sensors perform real-time visual detection of human physical behaviours to detect situations relating to how individuals or groups of people behave in real-world spaces and conditions, entirely passively, and in a manner that respects the user’s privacy.

Data

The main aim of the VLL is to use technology to improve learning outcomes. One instrument for achieving this is data – what data can we capture and analyse to improve learning outcomes. The real-time data from the SensingFeeling and Kramer platforms can be used to extract valuable insights that can enable educators to dynamically modify their teaching style and detect engagement improvements across lectures. Additionally, the analytics can help review and uncover critical learning moments following collaborative group exercises.

Value

Building on the collaboration between these manufacturers to create a solution that offers educators much more than the sum of its components, AV integrators can benefit from providing universities and colleges with a cost-effective solution that is both affordable and tailored to solving the new requirements for hybrid learning spaces. Plus, as the VLL is also a place to trial new technologies all parties can see if and how these new technologies can work and whether they can drive new business outcomes.

The 2021 journey

The first development of the VLL is positioned as a laboratory that can research and evolve excellence in student learning.  Maybe not everything will work on campus quite as imagined, and we encourage other experts to explore where their technologies might fit and add value to student learning. There is no doubt that capture and broadcast of learning and teaching will increase, as will the use of automated computer vision that can monitor student attendance and behaviour in more depth. The right developments, in partnership with the sector for the sector, have the potential to be a force for good practice, and a substantial benefit to students on and off the campus.

Next steps

Installation of the first VLL starts at City of Glasgow College in March and we will capture the whole journey during 2021 with AV News. For more information contact Mark Frost (mark.frost@intel.com) or Duncan Peberdy (duncan@learnfromanywhere.co.uk)

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