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University Lecture Halls Refresh Paves the Way for Hybrid Learning

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Verrex helped a New Jersey university design and implement two modern, flexible, easy-to-use lecture halls that make teaching in a hybrid classroom a breeze. 

Goals

When this esteemed University’s School of Health Professions needed someone to work with them on the audiovisual component of a full architectural refresh of two lecture halls in one of their existing Newark, NJ campus buildings, they contacted Verrex. In February 2020, Verrex collaborated with the client in the earliest stages to determine their AV technology goals.

 

Verrex came up with an initial plan to meet those goals. The project entailed a complete architectural refresh, including a renovation from the studs of two lecture halls on the second and third floors. The rooms were located on top of one another and needed to be interchangeable so that faculty could move from one lecture hall to another without a second thought. The audiovisual technology had to be easy to use; the goal was that faculty could use it without any help from the audiovisual technical staff. The client asked for two projectors that could accommodate larger images, two cameras to capture the professor and the students when questions arose, wireless microphones, ceiling microphones, and an assisted listening system for the hearing impaired. They also wanted remote monitoring capability. Finally, the University was looking for an AV partner to help in the project's design and integration. 

Challenges

The global pandemic caused an unavoidable delay; the University officially kicked off the project in March 2021. Verrex was engaged initially as a design consultant, highlighting the company’s adeptness as a comprehensive AV Systems Design and Integration partner. Verrex’s process-driven approach combines AV system design with a full range of integration capabilities and managed services to provide clients with a more precise budget, timeline, and sustainable solution for their AV technology integration project. 

 

Additionally, the need for the renovated lecture halls to fully support remote and hybrid learning became even more urgent. AV technology enables a new learning experience in the classroom, online, and in a hybrid environment. Verrex’s digital solutions for lecture halls offered remote students the most immersive broadcast-level experience and empowered remote and in-person students to achieve their full potential. 

Solutions

As part of our proven AV Systems Design process, Verrex conceptualized the integration of the AV into the renovated space and coordinated with the architect. Verrex provided detailed drawings in-line with architect phases and requirements, including suitable room dimensions, display integration, furniture, millwork, microphone and sound speaker placement, lighting, and acoustics. After the final plans were agreed upon and accepted, Verrex provided complete system integration, from project management to commissioning. Additionally, Verrex provided training for the University’s audiovisual technical staff, who supported the School of Health Professions’ faculty.  

 

Verrex worked closely with the University to create a flexible, reliable, and easy-to-use solution that provided a state-of-the-art remote learning/in-person learning system. The lecture halls are each equipped with an innovative, high-quality PTZ auto-tracking camera that allows professors and faculty to freely move about the new lecture halls while teaching their classes. These cameras automatically follow a person based on facial and motion detection, which produces a viewing experience of an operated camera. The installed camera is a dual camera which allows the camera to make adjustments and move quickly to keep the person in the optimal part of the frame. 

 

To provide the remote monitoring features that the University requested, Verrex implemented the enterprise management platform, Crestron Fusion®. This platform’s features allow the AV staff to easily monitor, manage, and schedule classes from one central location. In addition, the platform can track device and room usage to schedule routine maintenance, provide real-time remote technical support, and receive instant alert notifications.  

 

Verrex’s solution also included the lecterns in each lecture hall. Not always considered crucial to a project, custom-designed furniture ensures the audiovisual equipment works efficiently. When Verrex provides furniture as part of a project, they consider airflow, layout, and more cosmetic aspects like color schemes. 

Results

Overall, the University is thrilled with the project. Verrex delivered everything they were expecting with great attention to detail. One advantage of the Design/Build process is there is no loss of communication when you work with one provider from the start to the end of the project. Clients are provided with complete synergy, and the result is a system that is precisely what the client requested. The client was delighted with the entire project, from system design to training. With classes currently in session, the School of Health Professions is putting the new lecture halls and their audiovisual components to the test.