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Queen's U Adds 2-Way Audio in Active Learning Rooms

An Ontario university has figured out how to deliver more expansive audio communication in its active learning classrooms. Queen's University at Kingston is using equipment from Biamp Systems that allows instructors to talk with individual student teams without leaving their own stations.

The institution installed Tesira Server-IO networked media gear for multi-channel audio in two of its collaborative learning spaces. Both rooms have student "pods" and central instructor work areas outfitted with microphones, speakers and AV inputs. A larger room contains 34 tables with 22-inch monitors. A smaller room has 10 pod tables with 60-inch interactive boards.

The media system distributes audio to the speakers at each pod. While sitting in place, the instructor can move from pod to pod virtually and activate the microphone for bidirectional communication. When students wish to talk with the instructor, they push a button that puts them into talk mode.

In the event that an instructor is using both classrooms, the Biamp devices in each can be linked through an Extron Electronics fiber-optic matrix switch for two-way communication.

"Because of the Tesira's versatility, we were able to easily unify both classrooms and incorporate some custom features that instructors had requested, like turning the push button into a 'Jeopardy'-style buzzer," said Kyle Matheson, senior project manager with PJS Systems, which handled the classroom AV integration work. "The classrooms have proven to be quite effective; other faculty groups are now talking about implementing similar solutions of their own."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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