Awarded Education Project of the Year at the 2016 AV News Awards, the new Learning Lab converts a simple meeting room into a space for innovative conversation and active learning.
Inspired by the teaching labs at Liverpool Hope University’s partner institution the Universite Catholique de Lille, the idea of the room is to create a space not just for teaching students, but to also invent new modes of teaching. The key requirements outlined by Liverpool Hope Educational Technologist, David Aldridge were;
“Simple connectivity and ease of use. We needed a solution that would accommodate BYOD and offer great flexibility, but it also had to be accessible and easy for both academic staff and students to use”.
The University looked at several technical solutions and felt that the Kramer Via could provide the solution they were looking for. Tony Crossley, pre-sales technical director at Pure AV and lead designer on the project adds,
“possibly the biggest challenge was to make a system with an immense amount of functionality simple and intuitive to use and after we examined the brief, we too felt that Kramer offered a perfect solution for the University both from a technical perspective and the fact that Kramer provides excellent support at a local, face to face level.”
The Learning Laboratory is designed to accommodate a maximum of 60 people in six groups of 10 but is adaptable so that groups of various sizes can be constructed. The groups are able to work independently at their table or collaboratively with the rest of the room.
The room is set out with six tables each with a 55” Samsung display, along with two high definition Epson projectors designed for use when addressing the full group.
The system is designed to be wireless at the front end with a digital wired system to use as a backup. In terms of room control there are two user interfaces, the first is a Crestron control panel which offers a default set up and restricted functionality; this is designed for use by those who are unfamiliar with the system. The second uses a dedicated iPad running a Crestron Mobile Pro app. This has been introduced to offer access to more advanced functionality such as collaborative grouping and greater audio control.
Typically a group will consist of between 2 and 10 people with each individual able to display the output of their device regardless of type on the local display. Both wired and wireless devices are compatible.
The moderator uses a Kramer Via Collage device to view each group’s display on his or her own preview monitor and can select content from within the group to share with the rest of the class either on the projectors or broadcast to every display in the room. The key benefit here from the moderator’s perspective is the ability to quickly and easily view, select and share relevant content.
“This learning lab gives us the opportunity to push the boundaries of teaching practice. I am confident that with the Learning Lab we will be able to offer our students an innovative experience that genuinely prepares them for the modern collaborative workplace.” Dr Nick Almond, Director of Teaching and Learning at Liverpool Hope University.
The Learning Lab project was established to create a collaborative learning space that would allow students and tutors to 'co-create' new and innovative disciplinary solutions and approaches to teaching. The technology in the room allows students to contribute to discussion in lots of exciting ways, including through the use of their own devices.
With around 25 to 30 hours of Community of Practice and Alpha group sessions now complete, the Learning Lab is open for all interested academic staff to use and initial outcomes are very positive.
The experience of delivering this project has also demonstrated the importance of the bridge between manufacturer, integrator, AV facilitator, IT services and user. As Aldridge comments,
“It has been valuable to have the involvement of a Project Manager like Tony Crossley. By working closely with Tony on the design we were able to ensure that we got everything that we needed from the system; this is particularly important as the area of collaboration is still relatively new and even the manufacturers are still learning about the application of their products”.
The emphasis of this project is very clearly about using technology as a tool to enable and encourage innovative teaching. From the initial inspiration, taken from the Université Catholique de Lille, through the specification, and on to the carefully thought out introduction of the room; the pedagogy and academic aims have been at the heart of the room’s development.
As Aldridge points out,
“the system works and is looking good, the key now is working with the academics to ensure that it delivers what they want and need as they explore and develop new modes of teaching”.
Download the case study to read the full details of the project.