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AV technology is now a key enabler of superior learning outcomes for every educational institution. In a fast-moving environment, staying abreast of what’s possible today, and what will be possible tomorrow, is essential.
You’re probably not old enough to remember when the epidiascope was the pinnacle of classroom or lecture theatre technology – or perhaps even the once-ubiquitous overhead projector.
However long you’ve been in education, though, you can’t help but have been amazed at the transformation that has taken place in terms of equipping educational institutions with technology that is proven to have a hugely beneficial effect on learning outcomes.
“The education market reflects the changing world around it,” notes Holger Graeff, General Manager of projector manufacturer Vivitek EMEA. “One that is constantly expanding its technological dependencies and evolving in its understanding of technology as a powerful tool to drive change and increase capabilities.”
It seems remarkable to recall that the then-revolutionary interactive white board (IWB) first appeared three decades ago, and held sway for many years.
Viewed suspiciously by some in the early days as a distraction, the IWB rapidly established itself as a valuable teaching tool that could create a more exciting, collaborative learning environment.
That fundamental principle of achieving superior student achievement through engagement has, however, remained at the heart of the latest technology developments.
Inevitably, education is taking its cue from how corporate organisations are deploying new audiovisual (AV) solutions - the ‘huddle room’, a small, informal meeting space being a prime example.
“Fixed AV is still being installed into traditional higher education spaces such as lecture theatres, but increasingly we’re being asked for movable interactive touchscreens located in smaller meeting rooms and break-out areas,” says Ashley Helm, Business Development Manager for Clevertouch at AV solutions provider Sahara.
“Students are being encouraged to work together in smaller groups on specific subjects, and require the space and technology to do this.”
Certainly, large flat screens, whether fixed or movable, have become increasingly commonplace in education, being installed in environments where previously the projector ruled.
They became popular for reasons including lower cost of ownership, environmental friendliness and ease of installation – but the projector market has moved on considerably in the last few years.
“Lamp-free projection is becoming the norm, particularly in the mid to high end market,” says Alan Garratt, Senior National Account Manager at Casio UK. “Good green credentials are also becoming more of a must-have rather than a nice-to-have.”
Solid state illumination – the ‘lamp-free’ to which Garratt refers – has revolutionised projection with its 20,000+ hours of life and lower energy consumption. Other innovations, such as ultra-short throw (UST) projectors, have greatly improved the ease with which they can be installed.
And, as Trevor Maloney, Product Manager Visual Instruments at Epson UK points out, projectors can still have important advantages.
“Projection, and in particular interactive projection, continues to demonstrate steady demand from the education sector,” he says.
“A lot of classrooms still use flat panel displays, which are too small to give students optimum readability; our research shows that 61% of students in an average sized classroom can’t read content on even a 70” display.”
Projectors, like large screen displays, are increasingly being provided with supporting educational tools such as Epson’s iProjection software.
But if the screen or display is typically the focal point of a learning environment, it is networking that has become the key enabler of what’s possible – and that too is seeing rapid development.
“There is, in particular, increasing demand for flexible AV over IP technology to equip new active learning spaces in universities,” believes Julien Bussell, International Sales Manager at WolfVision, a company well known for its visualisers and that now also offers a range of wireless collaboration solutions.
“These learning spaces comprise multiple workstations and screens where students sit together in small groups, working together, and moving content freely between the different screens in the room.”
Bussell also sees growing use of wireless technology as the BYOD (bring your own device) phenomenon – another way in which education has followed the lead of business – becomes more widespread in secondary and higher education.
It could be said that audiovisual technology has become no less mission critical for educators than it is for the world of retail, visitor attractions and other industries.
That’s why over 80,000 AV professionals headed to the RAI exhibition centre in Amsterdam for Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) 2018, the world’s largest trade show of its type.
ISE 2019 takes place in the same location from 5-8 February. It represents an unparalleled opportunity to discover not only what’s available now – but what AV professionals can expect over the coming year. For key manufacturers, ISE provides the perfect platform to announce new technologies and solutions.
In addition to the latest technologies, ISE also provides leading conferences and professional development for visitors.
Show co-owner AVIXA, the Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association, has teamed up with the SCHOMS community for professionals working within UK higher education, and the European University Information Systems organisation (Eunis), to deliver a higher education AV conference at the show.
On 5 February, the What’s Next…Higher Education Integrated Experiences Design half-day conference will feature sessions discussing classroom design, the implementation of AV/IT systems, and exemplar use cases from around the world. The conference
“Finding out what’s coming along helps with the decision-making process, because systems and solutions that will launch onto the market during the next 12 months can also be taken into consideration,” continues Bussell, whose company will be showcasing its vSolution Matrix AV over IP-based collaboration solution.
“In addition, ISE provides an outstanding discussion forum. With users of every technology in attendance, it’s a great place to share knowledge, advice, and experiences with other end users.”
Epson’s Maloney echoes his sentiments.
“ISE 2019 offers users the opportunity to see the most advanced integration technologies in one single arena,” he says.
“In particular, it gives customers the ability to see the very latest AV offerings from the major vendors, together with an insight into the future technologies coming to market – and thus enables them to make a fully informed purchasing decision.”
“It’s critical that specifiers in education do their research before they make a decision” adds Helm.
“Get it wrong, and it will cost more than just the cost of the equipment; it will have a long-term impact on an institution’s ability to meet its teaching requirements and the demands of its digital savvy customers. That opportunity for research is what ISE is all about.”
Sahara will be unveiling the next generation of its interactive display that includes enhanced connectivity.
That’s the real attraction of ISE for educators. It provides the opportunity to look beyond the school or university walls to see how other organisations are taking advantage of the newest developments in AV technology – in digital signage, for example, which is rapidly establishing itself in education not only to inform, but to engineer a sense of community.
“It’s a chance for those responsible for procurement in educational institutions to get to know the technology that will define their roadmap and fit their specific needs,” says Vivitek’s Graeff. “More importantly, it will help their students to achieve the most out of the learning experience that the institution provides.”
Yes, numerous manufacturers represented at ISE will be demonstrating their education-specific solutions – but it’s the bigger picture that is said by many visitors to ISE to be the most valuable, and that makes their trip worthwhile.
It can give a wider context and additional depth to discussions with existing or potential suppliers. That in itself could make a visit to Amsterdam in February enormously worthwhile.
Integrated Systems Events organises, manages and develops leading business-to-business events for the professional audiovisual, electronic systems integration and IT industries. Its flagship event, Integrated Systems Europe, is the best-attended AV trade show anywhere in the world, attracting over 80,000 attendees and more than 1,300 exhibitors to its Amsterdam location every February. Visit isevents.org to find out more.
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