University of Castilla-La Mancha in Spain
In the year 2020, the world saw the corona pandemic impose limitations on every aspect of living, and the field of education is no exception. Due to capacity restrictions, only a certain and smaller number of students are allowed in the classrooms at universities and schools across the globe. To comply with this, the University of Castilla-La Mancha, located in the center of Spain, decided to form a new hybrid teaching system, which required the installation of new AV equipment, including Neets Control - SieRRa, Neets Control - UniForm, Neets Control - TanGo, and Neets Touch Panels. This solution created so-called mirror classrooms, where the teacher via video conferencing can interact with all their students sitting in two different classrooms - at the same time.
The University of Castilla-La Mancha is located a one-hour train ride from Madrid and has campus buildings across several smaller towns in Spain. They offer courses in everything from arts and humanities to engineering and architecture to their 30,000 students, and they employ 2,270 lecturers and researchers, plus 1,059 administrative and service staff. The university wanted to make sure that the students can get the most out of their lectures, and that the lecturers, in turn, will get the best possible conditions for teaching. Therefore, they contacted CabelDesign Audiovisuales. Juan Bravo, who does sales and technical support at Neets and lives in Madrid, explains about the collaboration:
“It was the university who called the integrator to ask about our products, because they had heard news about our system, so they asked CableDesign to work with us. The integrator didn't know about us, and at the beginning of the project, only a few classrooms were included - it started in August 2020, but then during the following months it was changed to include more rooms across the different campus locations, because the university liked the solution, and CableDesign were quick to install the products.”
Julio Ballesteros Plaza, integrator at CableDesign and responsible for the collaboration with the university, explains about the assignment they were given:
“The needs were clear from the beginning. First, it was necessary to update the audiovisual infrastructure of the classrooms, providing them with higher image and sound quality to facilitate learning and favor the students’ attention. In addition, the classrooms were required to have great connectivity, both with local resources - computers and smartphones - and remote resources - meaning mirror classrooms and videoconferencing. Secondly, a premise that was also initially established was to create a very clear and intuitive user experience in the classrooms. Neets helped us manage all existing signals and create simple controls to facilitate classroom management for the teachers,” Julio says.
A couple of different aspects were relevant to this job, but also equally important to make the final solution just right, high-quality AV equipment, connectivity between all the different devices and signals, and last but not least user-friendliness.
The audiovisual installation ended up being implemented in 14 classrooms. It consists of 10 Neets Control - SieRRa, 16 Neets Control - UniForm, and the Neets Control - TanGo plus Neets touch panels were also a part of the solution. Apart from the Neets products, CableDesign installed laser projectors in all classrooms, a 55 ”3 × 3 video wall, high reflection electric screens, IP communication systems, Ecler public address systems, audio and video matrices to manage the installation, and the integration of the entire system was ensured with Neets Keypads. The purpose was to create a mirror-effect between two classrooms, so the teacher could be in one room with half of the students, and then have the other half of the students sit in another classroom with video conferencing-like AV equipment. This made it possible for the teachers to make the most use of their time at work - because they would not have to divide the class and give two separate lectures about the same topic - while at the same time comply with the coronavirus guidelines and capacity restrictions.
Julio Ballesteros Plaza explains about the installation and the function of the solution:
“It could be said that for this type of installation, Neets provides a very complete solution. The functionality is total and from the installer's point of view, it is worth highlighting the ease of configuration of Neets’ products, and the simplicity when incorporating other types of third-party devices - projectors, matrices, cameras, etc. From the user's point of view, the functionality is also remarkable, whether through the interface of a touch screen or the buttons of a keypad, it is really easy to select the video sources that you want to display on the projector, control the volume, or turn the projectors on and off.”
All-around user-friendly facilities
Aside from being easy and intuitive to install from an integrator’s point of view, the solution consisting of the Neets products implemented with the pre-installed AV equipment in the classrooms is also user-friendly for the teachers and students. Now, the teachers have an easy way of setting up the video conferencing system in a manner that fits their lectures and teaching methods. The students get as close as possible to the experience of a real-life lecture, and they don’t have to do anything other than showing up to class just like they would normally do. The teachers save time, because they don’t have to do the lectures twice, including the time it would take for them to also prepare for it.
“After having used quite a few products from the Neets catalog, the result is very satisfying, both for the value for money, but also the simplicity of configuration and the versatility, that their products offer,” Julio Ballesteros Plaza says. This hybrid teaching system promotes learning in a user-friendly way that also saves time for the teachers and students, who can get a little splash of normality in these difficult and transformative times during the coronavirus pandemic.