Higher Ed: Integrating a Vision

College of Idaho
Caldwell, Idaho

C of I

As Idaho’s first pri­vate lib­er­al arts col­lege, The Col­lege of Ida­ho aims to push itself and its com­mu­ni­ty to new heights. When the Col­lege was gift­ed funds for a new library, it stayed true to this focus and cre­at­ed a space that ele­vat­ed the cam­pus tech­nol­o­gy experience.

“From the begin­ning the space was intend­ed to act as an intel­lec­tu­al com­mons,” said Alan Price, C of I Assis­tant Direc­tor of IT. The Cruzen-Mur­ray Library would be a place for ideas and tech­nol­o­gy to converge.

Creating Something from Nothing

When visu­al­iz­ing the new space, the Col­lege and donors had a blank slate to work from. With no exist­ing build­ing to retro­fit, the group’s vision would be built from the ground up.

The donors and oth­er stake­hold­ers aligned around the idea of an intel­lec­tu­al com­mons fea­tur­ing advanced tech­nol­o­gy- from inter­ac­tive dis­plays to flex­i­ble spaces.

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The Col­lege of Ida­ho part­nered with Neurilink for the audio visu­al design and inte­gra­tion of the space. To exe­cute this vision, the group had to bal­ance two dis­tinct needs:

  1. Cre­ate a cam­pus cen­ter­piece that pushed the tech­nol­o­gy envelope
  2. Make it usable by align­ing the user expe­ri­ence with exist­ing audio visu­al standards

Finding the Right Technology

Work­ing close­ly, the team focused on devel­op­ing inter­ac­tive class­rooms and solu­tions that could be used for sev­er­al needs in a sin­gle space.

For the two Flag­ship Class­rooms, Neurilink designed a panoram­ic view fea­tur­ing four sep­a­rate dis­plays sur­round­ing the class­room. Any wall plate in the room can send video to any dis­play. In addi­tion, the instructor’s PC shows a large extend­ed desk­top across all four screens. Each dis­play is inter­ac­tive and can also con­trol the PC. The entire room is 4K and is con­trolled by a touch panel.

Classroom Displays web

The con­fig­u­ra­tion empow­ers pre­sen­ters to think beyond stan­dard lec­ture slides. Teach­ers use one screen for a sin­gle learn­ing mod­ule. The set up allows them to present four dis­tinct but inter­con­nect­ed concepts.

A pro­fes­sor can speak about one con­cept, then move to the next screen while the pre­vi­ous mod­ule stays in view. By see­ing the four con­cepts at once, stu­dents can under­stand how dif­fer­ent top­ics are interrelated.

Stu­dents can col­lab­o­rate on the same data at the same time or divide into teams. Small groups con­gre­gate around each screen, which presents con­tent from four sep­a­rate stu­dent PCs or is used as an inter­ac­tive dis­play. When stu­dents are ready to present to the class, the con­tent is pushed to all four screens to share their work.

Anoth­er major audio visu­al enabled space is the Pre­sen­ta­tion Room.

Flex­i­bil­i­ty was crit­i­cal in the Pre­sen­ta­tion Room. The space is lever­aged for activ­i­ties from board meet­ings with video con­fer­enc­ing to keynote lec­tures. The Cre­stron NVX offers the flex­i­bil­i­ty to bridge the wide range of needs.

The Pre­sen­ta­tion Room fea­tures a dual pro­jec­tion mir­rored sys­tem and podi­um. A ded­i­cat­ed PC and lap­top con­nec­tion adapt to a vari­ety of AV needs and can be cho­sen through the small touch pan­el. The room is recon­fig­urable into a board­room set­ting with table­top micro­phones and a mix-minus rein­force­ment system.

Other Rooms

The team set­tled on Microsoft Sur­face Hubs and Cre­stron NVX con­trols for oth­er areas of the library. The Sur­face Hub lever­ages Office 365, which the school uses as a stan­dard­ized plat­form. With the turnkey solu­tion teach­ers can edit les­son plans on their device, enter the class­room and eas­i­ly open the document.

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Creating a Physical Space from an Extraordinary Vision

From the out­set the stake­hold­ers were inspired to cre­ate an intel­lec­tu­al com­mons, some­thing that would serve stu­dents and the com­mu­ni­ty for decades to come. But how do you take a momen­tous vision and dis­till it into dis­plays, con­trol pan­els and code?

One rec­om­men­da­tion is to think about the need­ed func­tion­al­i­ty, then deter­mine how to enhance it with new tech­nol­o­gy. In this case, Neurilink and Price found a bal­ance by push­ing the tech­nol­o­gy for­ward in a sus­tain­able way. “You don’t want some­thing that’s so the same it’s not mov­ing for­ward, but you don’t want some­thing so new that no one can use it,” said Price.

A rec­om­men­da­tion to oth­ers? Price sug­gests cus­tomers first devel­op an idea of what they’re look­ing for, so they can help dri­ve the project in the right direc­tion. Then find an audio visu­al part­ner that listens.

He advis­es work­ing with an inte­gra­tor that can sug­gest options and make rec­om­men­da­tions. This isn’t the same as a com­pa­ny try­ing to upsell prod­ucts or push unnec­es­sary add-ons, but whose expe­ri­ence and knowl­edge can bring alter­na­tive tech­nolo­gies to the table. Once the options have been put for­ward, the team can col­lab­o­rate on select­ing the right fit.

The project was approached with a clear vision to cre­ate a usable, tech­nol­o­gy enabled space. With this foun­da­tion the team was able to inte­grate dynam­ic spaces with audio visu­al solu­tions that enhance the user experience.