Managing audience participation in a hybrid lecture theatre 

Queen's University Belfast

The lecture theatre is a staple of university life. It is also one of the most problematic in a world faced with Covid. The need to maintain social distancing further reducing capacity in an environment where space was already under pressure.

An increasing number of universities are turning to AV over IP and lecture capture to expand the capacity of the lecture theatre. Both to spread students across multiple teaching spaces for real-time learning and capture content to enable online asynchronous learning online. 

However, the modern lecture is more than just a broadcast of information; the move to active learning approaches means that interaction between students and lecturer is an expected part of the experience.

The challenge with a dispersed student group is maintaining that engagement and ensuring that everyone’s contribution can be heard by all participants - whether in real-time or as part of a recorded lecture.

At the Queen’s University Belfast pilot, this is about the automated connection of visuals and voice. The use of high-quality mic arrays to provide camera tracking managed via a networked DSP ensures that we hear audience contributions clearly, automatically matched with that speaker’s image. The mic arrays picking up student voices without the need to touch or pass around a microphone. The result can be shared both in real-time to remote participants and captured for later sharing and review.

The set-up offers three teaching modes: Recording only for capturing content to share to the VLE, face-to-face and hybrid. The user experience is straightforward, allowing the lecturer to optimise the equipment set-up with a simple touch screen tap.

A full case study is coming shortly. In the meantime, Martin Clay, our Head of Technical sales and design for Higher Education, is available to talk with anyone who wants to know more or discuss similar use cases.

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