Higher Ed: Integrating a Vision
College of Idaho
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.
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:
- Create a campus centerpiece that pushed the technology envelope
- 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.
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.
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.
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.