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Four Makerspace Ideas and the Technology Your Schools Need to Make them Happen

Makerspaces are sprouting up everywhere in K-12 schools, and for good reason. Makerspaces engage students in ways that standard classrooms can’t. With a makerspace, students are encouraged to try new things, persist through their failures, stay focused on a single project, and work with their hands. These are important behaviors for young learners.

The benefits of a makerspace are considerable, but some districts have questions about how to set them up and how to afford them. Part of the makerspace magic, though, is that schools can be creative in how they put one together. No matter what your school’s budget or floorplan looks like, there’s a space somewhere for making.

Here, we’ve included four makerspace ideas that can be adapted for most K-12 schools, even if you’re just getting started with makerspaces.

Idea 1: Combine a Digital Display with Low-Tech Tools and Projects

If you can make something with it, you can use it in a makerspace. That includes low-tech learning materials like:

  • Paint
  • String and yarn
  • Paper products, like construction paper and cardboard
  • Modeling clay
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Duct and scotch tape
  • Toothpicks
  • Straws

The list goes on, and you can include as many or as few materials as your space allows. Once you’ve got your materials together, consider adding a digital display to the space. A digital display makes it simple for educators to find and deliver creativity-focused projects. As long as a teacher is available to curate the videos, a digital display provides students with multimodal learning opportunities.

Even with a digital display, you don’t need much room to pull this idea off. If your school can’t dedicate an entire room for makerspace purposes, this idea can work just as well in the library or even in the corner of a classroom. Many teachers like to rotate their students through multiple activities during class, and making something can be one of those activities.

Idea 2: Turn a Library into a Research and Collaboration Hotspot

Libraries are the ideal starting point for any project that requires research. Whether it’s engineering, science, design, architecture, or just plain crafting. Libraries offer a treasure trove of information for makerspace students.

Unsurprisingly, many schools are making their libraries the focal point for makerspace activities. It helps that the typical school library is a large place with room to fit a lot of kids and a lot of makerspace supplies.

If your school is also targeting its library for makerspace purposes, consider establishing a room-within-a-room just for creating. There are two reasons for this. One, separating the makerspace from the rest of the library will contain any making-related messes (easier clean up). Two, with a space for making and a space for research, students are encouraged to gather information from the library’s research resources and then put that information to use.

An interactive display is the perfect AV solution for this idea. With an interactive display, students can work together while whiteboarding their projects. Sketch them out, put together a project plan, delegate parts of the process to each student, and watch them explore as a team.

Idea 3: Encourage Group Work by Dividing a Makerspace into Pods

Teamwork and group work are points of emphasis in many makerspaces. AV technology and makerspace furniture can help reinforce those points by encouraging better collaboration.

If you’ve got an expanded space to work with (the school library is, again, a good choice), then create pods where small groups of students can work together. There is even makerspace furniture designed to facilitate this. One example is Spectrum’s Aspire line of desks, which are shaped to fit together in a variety of combinations, no matter how many students are in each group.

At each pod, an interactive display can be used to visualize project details, like in the example above. If you don’t have budget room for interactive displays, standard digital displays and a document camera at the front of the room can also be effective. The document camera’s feed can be routed to each pod’s display, so instructors can introduce concepts with up-close physical examples that everyone can see.

This idea takes a bit more room to pull off. And in large spaces, audio enhancement is another technology to consider. Audio enhancement solutions can be as simple as a worn microphone and a speaker sitting on a shelf. The effects of better audio can’t be overestimated as high activity spaces (like a makerspace) will drown out a teacher’s best attempts to speak above the noise. Audio enhancement solutions allow educators to teach without straining their voice.

Idea 4: Add Another Dimension to STEM Instruction with AR and VR Technologies

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) solutions are already establishing themselves in the professional world, where they make excellent training tools.

ClassVR and zSpace are two examples of AR and VR in the classroom, and while they can be used for a variety of lessons, they are particularly effective makerspace tools.

With AR and VR technology, your students can visualize engineering and technical concepts in a way they’ve never seen before, with detailed, 3D exploration. AR and VR can be an engaging and inspiring primer before each makerspace lesson, as they can introduce concepts relevant to the lesson and provide a starting point for creation.

You Don’t Need a Big Budget to Bring Big Makerspace Ideas to Life

Makerspaces are an effective way to deliver STEM curriculum, providing students with a different approach to learning than they would get in a traditional classroom. Even better, makerspaces are infinitely customizable. If your school is just getting started, low-tech materials may be plenty. As your makerspace efforts develop, adding in AV solutions like interactive displays, robotics kits, document cameras and supporting furniture can take it to new heights.

Wired vs Wireless: Four Reasons Why it’s Time to Ditch the Cables

AV solutions are evolving in many directions. One of those directions is developing away from wired systems and leveraging wireless options instead. This approach took off during the 2020 pandemic, as businesses were in need of touchless conferencing and collaboration technology.

In the process, professionals found that they enjoyed the added flexibility and convenience wireless AV technology provides.

What is a Wireless Presentation Solution?

There are numerous wireless presentation solutions on the market. A few of the most popular include the Barco Clickshare, Mersive Solstice and Crestron AirMedia.

All wireless presentation solutions are characterized by simple wireless connectivity. The user follows some on-screen prompts provided by the room’s display, enters a temporary passcode, and then has access to the room’s technology, including conferencing hardware, lighting and audio.

Wireless solutions can be integrated into your existing AV technology without compatibility issues. They only need to be added as an input for the system’s switcher.

Many organizations find that this approach is the best approach for running their meetings. Here, we’ve included four of the top reasons why your organization might agree.

Wireless Solutions are Compatible with all Presentation Devices

Users can establish this wireless connection to any device they want, including their own laptop, tablet or smartphone. Not every organization has a BYOD setup in place, but for those that do, wireless presentation solutions offer a ton of value.

That’s because going wireless means anyone can walk into the conference room and utilize its technologies with zero prior knowledge. All a presenter needs is their own device and a few minutes to connect it to the room. Once connected, the presenter can share content from their own device and use it as a starting point for collaboration.

Leading wireless solutions are device-agnostic, so they work with all types of devices and all device brands. Again, an advantage if the presenter doesn’t know everything about the room beforehand.

One of the primary advantages of going wireless is added flexibility. This flexibility is especially helpful for hybrid teams, as remote members of the team may have to occasionally come to the office to run a meeting. With a wireless solution in place, those employees won’t have to worry about having the right video cable or inputs for their device.

Wireless Solutions Speed Up and Simplify Meetings

Because there’s no need to mess with wires, wireless connectivity can be established faster and more reliably. Even better, going wireless means the meeting’s presenter can access the room’s controls through a single portal. There’s no need to establish multiple connections to multiple devices, which speeds things up further.

With speed and simplicity prioritized, meetings begin on time reliably (with fewer calls to IT needed). This could mean several minutes per meeting, and if your organization relies on regular collaboration among departments, that could mean saving a significant amount of time and money.

Wireless Solutions Also Power More Engaging Meetings

Meeting engagement depends, in part, on how quickly and frustration-free the meeting begins. Delays will have the other participants staring down the clock and thinking about what they’ll have to move around if the meeting doesn’t get going soon.

Wireless solutions continue driving engagement, though, even after the meeting has begun. Because users can connect and control from their own devices, they’re never interfacing with technology they’re uncomfortable with. This allows the meeting’s presenter to effortlessly manage the meeting and share content as needed, without having to stop everything and figure out what to do next. The meeting flows smoothly and people stay focused as a result.

Wireless Solutions Keep Conference Rooms Neat and Tidy

Meetings take place in rooms of all sizes and configurations. Some of those rooms, like huddle rooms and focus rooms, are quite small and can feel smaller still with cables running through them. Cables can cause frustrating, unprofessional-looking clutter in small meeting spaces. They can also cause trips, drops, and other meeting-halting accidents.

During a meeting, what if someone trips over a wire and accidentally yanks an HDMI out of the presenter’s computer? What if that meeting involves an important client who suddenly can’t see any content the user is sharing, because their device is no longer connected, but can see a bunch of people fumbling for the cable to plug it back in? That’s not a good look for any organization.

There are ways to organize and cleanly run cables through a meeting room, including furniture that can contain the cables and connection ports. These methods work, but they can be expensive. Many companies find that it’s more cost effective to avoid wires in the first place.

A Certified AV Integrator Can Help Any Organization Cut the Cables

As AV solutions continue to improve and deliver a better user experience, wireless AV technology will become a larger priority. With enhanced convenience and meeting effectiveness, it’s easy to see why.

It’s also easy to get started with a wireless presentation solution, if you have a certified AV integrator handling the design, installation, and setup. In most cases, an integrator can seamlessly work wireless solutions into an existing AV solution and existing wireless network. And with an integrator, you’ll be able to identify the best wireless solutions to keep your organization collaborating effectively.

The Top Three Considerations When Selecting Robotics

The Top Three Considerations When Selecting Robotics

If your school is set to launch a robotics program, congratulations, and you’re not alone! For the foreseeable future, the educational robotics industry is expected to grow about 25 percent every year. Schools all over the world are embracing the STEM-boosting power of introducing robotics and programming concepts early.

Studies show that early STEM education can improve job prospects for students, enhance engagement and develop a range of skills, like problem solving and creativity.

There are plenty of reasons to consider robotics curriculum for your students, but there are also plenty of robotics programs to choose from. As a result, getting started is a big hurdle for many schools. We’re here to help you get over that hurdle.

If you’re still putting together a design for your robotics program, there are a few considerations to iron out. If you can answer those questions, you’ll be ready to get your students started with robots.

Question One: What Kind of Robots are Your Students Old Enough to Use?

User age and skill are primary considerations for any robotics curriculum. In fact, manufacturers develop their robot models for specific grade groups to challenge without overwhelming. Here’s a broad grouping of robot designs by age, so you know what to look for:

Physically programmable robots

For the earliest STEM users, robotics are designed for play. This means the difficult code-heavy stuff is hidden in favor of physical controls (typically big, bright buttons). Physically programmable robots are designed to look cute and colorful, favoring animal and cartoon character designs that are inviting to early learners.

There are a couple things to consider with physically programmable robots, though. For one, they aren’t appropriate for teaching the basics of coding and some of them can be pretty heavy, so make sure your choice is compatible with smaller hands.

Early software-based robots

For students in their early elementary years, there are robots that combine the cute, colorful, playful nature of physically programmable robots and software-based coding. These robots are the gateway into true robotics programming and typically deliver their software-first approach in a game-like package.

Computer-programmable robots

By the time students get to their late elementary and middle school years, they’re ready to jump into software coding entirely. Computer-programmable robots aren’t as cute or colorful, but they’re smaller, easier to store and come with additional functionality. They also require fine motor skills to handle appropriately, but this is where the real robotics projects can begin.

Robot building kits

In high school, students are ready to build and program robots from scratch. A robot building kit can help those students ramp up their programming skills and stretch their problem-solving abilities. In particular, robot building kits challenge students to reconcile the software-hardware boundary, as they will see how their coding alters their custom robot’s behavior.

Question Two: What is the Goal of Your School’s Robotics Curriculum?

Your curriculum goals will largely be determined by student age, but there’s still room to be flexible. Robotics can be incorporated into a variety of educational applications, including:

Structured, lesson-based programs

You can teach robotics in a traditional lecture format where one lesson follows another. This is most effective if you have a teacher who can deliver robotics concepts in an engaging way.

Self-guided lesson programs

Some schools elect for self-guided lessons instead. When it’s time to for robotics, students can pick from a collection of robotics lessons and pursue them individually or in groups. The benefit of self-guided lessons is that it allows students to pursue robotics at their own pace and remain engaged.

Open robotics lab for experimentation

If your robotics lab is focused on the creative side, consider opting for an open robotics lab. With an open lab, students can come and go when they have time to do so. With this approach, interested students can pursue longer-term projects and remain engaged when not in class.

Question Three: What Kind of Space Will Be Dedicated for Your Robotics Program?

While robotics can be taught in a traditional classroom, there are benefits to designating a space just for robot learning. After all, robotics can be messy and chaotic, and containing all of that creative energy facilitates better making.

Given the added space demands associated with robots, we recommend carving out an under-utilized space in your school and dedicating it to robotics. In other words, establish a makerspace for your students.

Makerspaces are another emerging trend in K-12 education, and they don’t have to focus solely on robotics. Makerspaces are designed to inspire and facilitate many forms of creation, so it’s here where you’ll often see the intersection between STEM and art.

Makerspaces are at their best when they’re organized for better creation and organization. To do that, here’s a few additions to consider:

STEM storage and charging equipment

Once the robotic fun is over, there’s typically a mess to pick up. With STEM storage and charging equipment, it’s easy to manage your class materials and ensure they are only accessible when needed. Some storage equipment can also charge robotics modules while they aren’t in use.

Interactive display technology

Interactive displays are especially helpful if you’re using traditional lesson formats to teach robotics. With an interactive display, instructors can deliver lesson content in a visual format that allows for easy annotating and brainstorming. In short, an interactive display can be a visual idea generator for students.

3D printers

3D printers open up an entire world of from-scratch creation, but they’re designed for older students. In robotics classes, 3D printers can be used to fabricate various components and can allow students to do some rapid prototyping.

Modular furniture and seating

There’s usually a lot of movement going on inside makerspaces, so investing in bulky, heavy seating is probably not a good idea. Instead, consider lightweight, modular furniture that can be moved around and connected for better collaboration between students.

Your Certified AV Integrator Can Help Select the Right Robot and Supporting Technologies for Your Students

Setting up robotics curriculum is challenging but an exciting challenge to tackle. There are real benefits to introducing students to robots and programming, but how they’re introduced is essential.

That’s why you’ll need the right robots and supporting technologies to launch your STEM curriculum. And that’s where a certified AV integrator familiar with all leading educational robot solutions can help.

AV Solutions For The Courtroom

AV Solutions For The Courtroom

Every day inside courtrooms, a lot of important information is delivered through audio and video channels. Most of those courthouses are operating using outdated technology, or no technology at all.

These courts aren’t functioning with the efficiency they could, but AV solutions can help. Modern AV technology can improve the courtroom experience and with courtroom management. Even better, such solutions are easy to use and can be set up quickly with the help of a certified integrator.

There are plenty of AV solutions that are an ideal fit for courtrooms, no matter the room’s size or layout.

Virtual Arraignment Is A Convenient AV Solution For Busy Courts

There are some courtroom tasks that can be handled virtually, as long as you have the right technology in place. Virtual arraignments, for example, are becoming a popular way for courts to reduce crowding and expedite routine court tasks.

Virtual arraignments are made possible with a video conferencing setup, which includes cameras, displays, and microphones. These solutions are typically packaged with a secure means of transferring legal documents online.

With a virtual arraignment in place, the judge, defendant, and attorneys do not need to be physically present. This helps with courtroom efficiency and security, as there are fewer people to account for at the court.

Video Conferencing Can Improve the Voir Dire and Jury Selection Process

It’s critical for attorneys to select impartial jurors for their cases, and video conferencing solutions can help here as well. How?

  • Attorneys can see all potential jurors at once – An attorney may be required to voir dire more than a dozen people at once, and it’s inevitable that some of those potential jurors will be outside of the attorney’s vision during the process. That, of course, makes it more difficult to assess each person’s fitness for jury duty. With video conferencing solutions, though, attorneys can monitor the entire group’s reaction to every question at a glance.
  • Attorneys get a close-up look at every potential juror’s reaction – The quality of each person’s reaction is also different when it’s delivered virtually. In a courtroom setting, attorneys have to take in an enormous amount of information after everything they say. Some of this information, like facial expressions, may be impossible to pick up in an in-person setting, especially if potential jurors are wearing masks. Virtually, though, attorneys have a close look at everyone during the process, and it’s less likely that any of those potential jurors will have a mask on.
  • Virtually, jurors are more likely to be candid with their responses – An amazing thing happens when people aren’t forced to dress formally, commute to the courthouse and deal with security protocols. When people are allowed to handle the process from home, they’re more relaxed and, therefore, more candid with their responses. An experienced attorney can leverage this added comfort to get more thorough answers from their voir dire candidates.

What Video Solutions Can Help Courtrooms Run Better?

Not everything can be done virtually, and for in-court proceedings, better display technology is needed. Some of those solutions include:

  • Enhanced display hardware – Large, LED-powered digital displays are an effective choice wherever they go. Whether it’s the courtroom itself or in waiting areas, digital displays can be used to track court schedules and dockets. Courthouse clerks are constantly asked for the kind of information you can output to a display, so installing displays can free up your clerk staff for more important work.
  • Annotation displays – Annotation displays are installed inside courtrooms and can be used by attorneys or witnesses to make important notes during evidence presentation. Annotations can be made using a finger and saved for review later, so they’re a simple device to integrate into courtroom proceedings.
  • Evidence presentation technology – Evidence presentation can be tricky in large courtrooms, where the jury may not have a clear viewing angle. Evidence presentation solutions are an easy way around this problem.
    Evidence presentation systems are standalone units that include multiple presentation-enabled components. Some of these components include high resolution document cameras, LED lighting for enhanced visibility, a small display that outputs the camera feed, and audio enhancement.
    Consider installing small displays at the jury stand so jury members can get the best view possible of all presented exhibits. The document camera feed can be routed to these displays for detailed viewing.

Audio Is Also Important, So How Can Courts Improve Their Sound Technology?

Courtroom conversations are packed with extremely important content, so quality audio capturing and delivery technology is essential. If courtroom activities are being held back by poor audio, here are some solutions that can help:

  • Sound reinforcement systems – Audio reinforcement boosts the overall quality and volume of sound in the courtroom, and is delivered through a mix of signal processors, amplifiers, and speakers. When it comes to audio reinforcement, the trick is arranging the equipment for even sound distribution. That takes an experienced integrator to pull off properly, as acoustics are a concern in many courtrooms.
  • Assistive listening solutions – Assistive listening solutions are required in courtrooms and help people with hearing difficulties follow what’s being said. Assistive listening solutions utilize transmitters and receivers to deliver audio directly to an assistive listening device like a hearing aid.
  • Audio masking systems – Audio masking systems output unintelligible white noise, effectively creating a sound-based barrier through which audio cannot pass. In the courtroom, audio masking is effective for masking jury discussions, so jury members can deliberate comfortably and without fear of someone eavesdropping or recording audio.

AV Control Systems Are Essential For Efficient Courthouse Management

The best audio and video in the world won’t mean much if it can’t be easily managed. That’s where AV control systems can make an impact.

AV control products give courtroom deputies complete oversight regarding courtroom proceedings. With an AV control solution in place, deputies can alter audio output levels and switch between multiple sources.

AV controls are operated on the user’s end through touchscreens, typically small enough to mount on top of a desk or even integrated into courtroom furniture. Touchscreens allow for ease of use regardless of the user’s ability to handle technology.

Audio And Video Recording Ensures No Valuable Court-Related Information Is Lost

All courtroom communication must be recorded for future reference, and that communication must be recorded as accurately as possible.

Modern courtroom recording systems leverage AV technology to its fullest. For example, courtroom recording technology can capture video in 4K resolution and can capture that video from multiple cameras. During playback, users can switch between cameras to view the proceedings from a variety of angles.

Some recording platforms also allow users to tag specific parts of the video for quick reference and playback.

Room Scheduling Solutions Can Optimize How Your Courtrooms Are Used

If you’re running a busy courthouse, you may have trouble matching your room resources with your room needs. In other words, your courtrooms and conference rooms may not be optimally utilized.

Room scheduling solutions can solve this issue. With a room booking solution, courtroom deputies can reserve particular rooms for particular times, ensuring there are no issues with double-booking and no need to find a space at the last minute.

Also, courthouses can monitor the distribution of rooms and their utilization. If some rooms are frequently empty and others frequently booked, you can use room scheduling software to reallocate your room-related resources appropriately. That’s a big efficiency boost.

A Certified AV Integrator Can Design, Install And Support Your Court’s AV System

Courtrooms are one of the biggest challenges for AV integration, as courthouses tend to be older buildings with older infrastructure in place. Further, AV courtroom solutions can scale up quickly, as there are many technologies for courts to consider. It’s likely that, during integration, the AV crew will need to remove, replace, or integrate existing technologies with new ones.

Given the complexity involved, you’ll want to work with a certified AV integrator as they will be more familiar with solutions built for courtroom environments and will have the expertise needed to implement them. Also, with their advanced knowledge comes adaptability, so experienced integrators will be able to adjust to your project’s needs as they develop.

In short, with a certified integrator, your courtroom will have a full-fledged technology partner supporting your efficiency-enhancing AV projects.

The Many Benefits Of A Video Wall

The Many Benefits Of A Video Wall

In terms of AV, bigger is often better, which is why video walls are one of the most popular products for a variety of businesses. Video wall technology has come a long way since it was first introduced, but the concept remains the same – tying several (or several hundred) displays together to create a single, dynamic image.

Modern video wall solutions can be designed to any size and nearly any shape, giving businesses incredible flexibility in how they present their brand and valuable information. In terms of making a visual impact, nothing is as effective as a well-designed video wall, and here we’ve detailed what makes the video wall a top AV solution for businesses.

Video Walls Offer Superior Image Quality And Resolution

The first thing most people notice about video walls is their size. Video walls are capable of going big with content, to the point where they can deliver content to an entire stadium full of people.

The sheer scalability is only matched by some large format projectors, but video walls have the advantage of producing clear, crisp images even when they span vast distances.

If you’re relying on a projector, you’ll need to focus the lens and calibrate its optics for optimal image quality, which can be tricky. Further, you’ll need the right surface to project the image onto, and if you don’t have a projector screen or high contrast surface to bounce off of, the result may be lacking.

Video walls, though, are powered with leading-edge LED technology. They create their own light, output at ultra-high resolution and can output a full range of colors. The result is a strikingly large, but strikingly vivid and engaging picture.

Video Walls Offer Content Outputting Versatility

Video walls are a blank canvas for your organization, capable of delivering just about any type of content you’d want to deliver. Whether it’s to inform customers about current specials, demonstrate products in action, display social media posts or run documentary-quality video of the company in action.

You can also be creative with how this content is displayed on the video wall. This is done through the use of media players, which can be attached to each display or run from a single media processing unit that’s located elsewhere. In either case, media players provide features like content programming and source selection, so your video wall can seamlessly switch from outputting a single image across the entire wall to outputting from multiple sources to multiple outputs.

Video Wall Hardware Can Also Be Positioned And Arranged However You Want

The AV industry has seen a wave of new video wall technologies hit the market in recent years, and they’ve greatly expanded what a video wall can do.

For example, modern video walls can still rely on the grid-like arrangement of past video walls, but with ultra-thin bezels that don’t interfere with the image. Even better, though, is the rise of direct view LED walls, which can be incorporated into impressive AV applications.

Direct view LED video walls have no bezels. Instead, they’re made up of edgeless LED tiles that are linked together to create a single, large screen. The LED tiles can be easily removed from the wall for quick servicing and used to build video walls of any size of shape.

Imagine a space where vivid screens wrap around corners and trail up to the ceiling. With modern video wall technology, you can now arrange digital screens the same way you would with fabric or canvas.

Video Walls Can Drive A Memorable Interactive Experience

Some types of video walls are also built with interactivity features, and interactivity is something people are naturally drawn to. This is a major reason why businesses are considering their own investment in video walls.

For instance, an interactive video wall can be used by customers to quickly search through a store’s inventory. They can be used to find certain parts of the building or model clothing or furniture before it’s purchased. Interactivity is a valuable tool that gives customers the ability to browse and buy the way they prefer. Giving customers what they want is usually a good way to keep them coming back.

Nothing Beats A Video Wall In Terms Of Customer Engagement

The sheer size and vividness of a video wall is impossible to compete with. Multiple studies show that people respond better to digital signage than static signage, and video walls can make the most out of this fact. Everything is more effective when displayed through a video wall, whether it’s strictly information, entertaining, or brand-positive content.

Couple the visual advantage of a video wall with interactivity, and not only will you capture and retain customer attention – you will leave them with a positive experience that either could mean an instant sale or future business. In this way, a video wall isn’t just a visual flourish, but a conversion and brand-building platform.

A Certified AV Integrator Can Help Your Company Develop Its Video Wall Projects

As effective as video wall technology is, it works best when designed, installed, and calibrated by a reputable AV integrator. Experienced AV teams know what digital displays to choose for video wall applications, along with supporting devices and software. An integrator will also be able to source all the necessary hardware and software, which can be quite job in itself.

If your organization wants to go big with its AV, a certified integrator can help visualize your video wall options, map out timelines, execute the project as planned, and even support the system following installation.

Collaboration Tools For The Remote Workplace

Collaboration Tools For The Remote Workplace

Professional teams are doing everything remotely these days – work, meetings, collaboration, you name it. It’s a trend that’s only accelerated since the 2020 pandemic, but the transition to remote work was already in full swing among many companies.

That transition is an important one for every business to consider now, as people value work-from-home opportunities. Businesses have also noted improved productivity from employees who work remotely, so the arrangement benefits both sides.

The challenge is how to unify your remote and onsite workers together, so that everyone feels like they’re part of the team.

AV is what helps companies take this challenge on. In the last few years, AV manufacturers have created a plethora of collaboration tools, many of them designed for remote and hybrid teams. With these tools, your teams will be able to communicate and collaborate wherever they are.

Video Is The Foundation Of Every Remote Collaboration Solution

Video conferencing technology is the primary tool backing any remote workflow. It’s been around for decades, but once millions of people were pushed out of the office, video conferencing became vital for operational purposes. This, along with the rise of Zoom, Microsoft Teams and other usability-first platforms, has helped professionals get comfortable with being on camera and discussing projects with colleagues.

Popular video conferencing platforms are also designed to fit perfectly into a unified communications (UC) approach. Zoom, Microsoft, Cisco and Google all have apps for mobile conferencing, so users can collaborate and exchange ideas wherever they are.

Video Conferencing Software Is Designed For Interoperability

Your organization likely has existing hardware it would like to leverage for any new video conferencing solution. Fortunately, some of the historical leaders in video conferencing hardware – brands like Poly and Crestron – are partnered with Zoom, Microsoft and others. If you’ve already got an existing Poly or Crestron system in place, it’s likely compatible with the most popular software solutions available.

And while it’s more difficult to maintain multiple conferencing solutions, many organizations do rely on two, three, or more collaboration tools for their remote and hybrid meetings. That way, companies can combine new solutions with what already works.

The Modern Meeting Space Is Designed For Small Teams And Efficient Communication

The typical meeting involves fewer team members. It also involves onsite and remote groups. Together, this has reduced the need for traditional meeting rooms, which are now too large and inefficient for the modern workplace.

Instead, businesses are carving out smaller collaboration spaces like huddle rooms and focus rooms. Instead of one large, cumbersome collaboration space, you can get two or three huddle rooms in the same area.

What is a huddle room, though? These compact meeting spaces typically include the following:

  • A digital display, which may be interactive.
  • An all-in-one conferencing solution, like a video bar. The Poly X series and Crestron Flex are popular examples.
  • A small table and a few chairs. Some feature lounge furniture instead for more comfortable collaboration.
  • Accessible cable ports for easy connectivity. This can be built into a small conference table.

Huddle rooms allow small onsite teams to instantly jump into a meeting that includes remote participants. It’s a convenient way for teams to handle project management, brainstorm, provide feedback, and generally ensure they’re on the same page.

Wireless Presentation Systems Simplify Content Sharing And Hybrid Meetings

Wireless presentation solutions are a purpose-built tool for hybrid meetings. They emerged right when the pandemic did, in response to the need for a touchless presentation system.

With a wireless presentation solution, anyone can connect to a room’s presentation and conferencing technology from their own device. And like the name suggests, it’s all wireless. All the user must do is follow on-screen prompts from the room’s display to connect, a process that can be completed in seconds.

Once connected, users have access to the room’s conferencing technology and features. They can start a conference from their device, share media files from their device to the display, and configure lighting or audio levels. This can all be done with minimal knowledge of the room’s technology, so it’s perfect for employees who are rarely in the office.

Interactive Whiteboards Turn Collaboration Into A Hands-On Experience For Everyone

There are a number of ways that interactive whiteboards can improve your meetings. Interactive flat panels like the Clevertouch can be used with remote and hybrid collaboration efforts, as anyone who is connected can see and annotate on the whiteboard as needed.

Whiteboarding sessions allow for that free-form kind of collaboration where people can exchange ideas and a lot of information visually. When the session is over and the whiteboard is marked over, interactive flat panels allow users to save an image of it. Months after the meeting is over, anyone can pull up the whiteboard again to track progress or just refresh their memory.

Certified AV Integrators Are Remote Collaboration Experts

The modern workforce is a remote workforce, and there’s every reason to believe that remote and hybrid workplaces are here to stay. If your organization hasn’t adapted to this new reality yet, it’s time. Fortunately, the time has never been better to adopt remote collaboration tools into your company’s kit.

A certified AV integrator can oversee this process. Once the integrator has a full understanding of your company’s collaboration needs, they can design a system, source its components, install the hardware, set up the software and provide ongoing support. There’s no easier and more cost-effective way to support your remote teams.

The Next AV Gamechanger: Video Conference Bars

The Next AV Gamechanger Video Conference Bars

Video conferencing, remote teams, hybrid meetings – professionals spend much of their time collaborating with people who aren’t in the same room. This trend has taken off in the last couple of years, and now nearly 5 million Americans work remotely at least half the time.

The AV industry has responded to this change with better video conferencing solutions, and leading them is the video conference bar. Until video bars, setting up video conferencing meant sourcing, installing, and configuring a lot of technology. A major manpower and time commitment, in other words.

Video bars solve this problem by combining all the devices needed for conferencing into a single package. There’s no easier and faster way to set up your conference rooms or huddle rooms.

What Does a Video Bar Include?

A video bar is capable of driving a clear and compelling video conferencing experience. Inside every bar, the following are included:

  • A camera (with pan-tilt-zoom capabilities)
  • Microphones (MEMS, cardioid or second-order mics)
  • Speakers (mono or stereo, some with bass)

The only thing you’ll need to complete the system is a display.

Compare this to traditional video conferencing solutions, which have to be put together piece by piece hardware-wise. In addition to all that hardware, technology racks and control systems were required to run them. You’d also need a laptop or PC to run the conferencing software.

Video Bars Make Meetings More Efficient and More Convenient

The reduced hardware load means video bars are a far more compact and efficient technology for businesses. Their all-in-one design means they can be scaled down for smaller meeting rooms, and because they include control hardware, too, they’re simple to use. You can even port a mouse and keyboard into the system to steer the meeting from the table.

There are a few more perks with modern video bar solutions. For example:

  • Video bars speed up meetings – Video bars consolidate control and management of the room’s conferencing technology. User preferences can also be established for everyone, so they only have to walk into the space and hit a button before launching a meeting.
    The alternative is configuring audio, video, and the connection prior to every meeting, which eats up precious time. Video bars give that time back to your teams.
  • Video bars are easier to manage – Video bars are easy to manage on the user side and they’re easy for IT to manage, as well. Just like the hardware itself is consolidated into a single package, so is hardware management. Your IT people can monitor each room’s status, pinpoint performance issues, troubleshoot, push over updates, and power each room’s technology on or off. That means video bars also give IT a break.
  • Video bars enhance meeting quality – Sound and video quality are both excellent with video bars, and you’ll lose nothing by making the switch.
    Video bars can also be used with additional conferencing accessories to make the meeting even more effective. A second display, for instance, can be used for content sharing purposes while the speaker is in frame on the other display. Go further with an interactive display, and meeting participants can guide the meeting from the display. All of this is possible with a video bar.

A Couple of Leading Video Bar Solutions

Video bars fit perfectly into modern organizations, so it’s no surprise that some of the most reputable AV manufacturers have produced their own versions. Here’s a couple options worth considering:

  • Poly Studio X Series – The Poly Studio X Series is ideal for focus rooms to large conference rooms. Poly is one of the most respected brands in AV, and it has partnerships with other major tech brands, like Microsoft. The company has earned respect by combining industry-leading audio and video technologies.
    Its Poly Studio X Series is available in a few models. The Poly Studio X30 is built for compact conferencing spaces like huddle rooms, the X50 for traditional conferencing spaces, and the X70 for boardrooms and other large spaces.
    The Poly Series X includes a PTZ camera, which offers 4K resolution and a 120-degree field of view. It automatically tracks who is talking and maintains framing for participants on the other end of the call. It’s also packaged with Poly’s NoiseBlockAI software, which automatically detects interfering sounds and neutralizes them, ensuring they don’t interfere with voices.
    Poly Studios are also designed for enterprise-level management, so every Poly Studio can be onboarded before arriving at the office and without IT having to touch a single device.
  • Crestron Flex – Crestron is another top AV brand and another Microsoft partner. Its Flex Soundbar is one of many solutions offered through the Flex line, and all it takes to connect it to the room is a single USB cable.
    The Flex Soundbar includes a beamforming microphone array and a framing camera that provides a 150-degree field of view. The Flex Soundbar can also be controlled from a 10-inch tabletop touch display. From here, users can ready the room for a call and start that call with a single tap.
    Crestron’s collaborative technologies can be managed using the company’s XiO Cloud. Through the XiO Cloud portal, IT can provision thousands of soundbars at once, monitor their performance and resolve any issues remotely.

Your AV Integrator Can Implement an Optimal Video Bar System For Your Organization

Video bars are built for usability, but it’s still recommended to work with an AV integrator to launch your project. There are several video bar solutions available, each with their own set of features and products. A certified integrator can help your company select the optimal fit and oversee system design and installation to get it off the ground quickly.

With a video bar solution, your organization can rapidly transition to video conferencing without over-committing in cost or material. You’ll get the best of what the technology has to offer, in a package that’s easy to manage and easy to use.

What Makes a Great Interactive Flat Panel?

What Makes a Great Interactive Flat Panel

There are dozens of interactive flat panels on the market, but not all are backed with quality engineering, features, and collaboration solutions. The top displays, like the Clevertouch, bring all three together. With this excellent, comprehensive design, the Clevertouch is a leading piece of technology in both the classroom and the boardroom.

Here, we’ll go over what makes the Clevertouch and other leading options a good fit for students, educators, and professionals.

What Features Should Companies Look For In Their Interactive Flat Panels?

In corporate settings, professionals need a lot from their collaborative technology. The speed of the modern economy necessitates it. This need extends to interactive flat panels, which must offer several benefits to professional teams. For example, you’ll want the following in your company’s interactive flat panels:

  • Comes with hardware for video conferencing capabilities – Modern professionals spend a lot of time in remote and hybrid meetings. That being the case, you’ll want a panel that’s ready for video conferencing solutions right out of the box.
    The Clevertouch, for instance, comes with built-in speakers and a microphone. It’s also easy to pair with an external camera, so it’s simple to run video conferences using your favorite conferencing solution, like Microsoft Teams or Google Meet.
  • A variety of screen sizes available in 4K resolution – The size of the flat panel’s screen has a major impact on how visible it is from a distance. In large meeting spaces, you’ll need a big screen to account for the greater distance between participants and the display.
    The Clevertouch UX Pro, designed for the office, is available in four sizes (55″, 65″, 75″ and 86″). All four sizes are built with a 4K resolution screen.
  • An intuitive operating system – The easier it is to operate the display, the better. Users vary greatly in their skill level and comfort with technology, so the display should be simple to operate right away.
    The Clevertouch operating system is based off of the popular Android OS, so it functions like a large smartphone. Student, teacher or professional, it’s the kind of OS anyone can walk up to and start using.
  • Simple connectivity for employee devices – Increasingly, professionals expect to connect their own device to the room’s presentation hardware. Doing so allows for easier, faster, and more comfortable meetings.
    There are multiple ways to connect to the Clevertouch. Users can do it through the Clevershare app or with the Clevershare dongle, which allows for one-button connectivity.
  • Extensive whiteboard functionality – Onboard whiteboarding software facilitates collaboration and gets everyone involved in the meeting.
    Whiteboarding software differs significantly from one display to the next. The Clevertouch’s Lynx is its primary whiteboarding software and is designed for more effective meetings. With Lynx, users can use the onboard browser to grab content from online, whether it’s images, videos, or other media.
  • Built-in digital signage tools – If your interactive display can double as digital signage, it can be used for brand reinforcement or communicating important information.
    Not all flat panels are designed for this, but the Clevertouch can be deployed in a digital signage mode when it’s not being used in its primary role.
  • Extended warranty and reduced failure rate – Ideally, your interactive flat panel should work for years before replacement is needed. To ensure this, the display should be protected with an extended warranty.
    The Clevertouch comes with such a warranty, which lasts up to five years. Coupled with the display’s quality build and low failure rate, the Clevertouch is a low-risk solution.

What Are Important Features For Classroom Interactive Panels?

Interactive touch panel technology is a perfect fit for educational settings, as long as it comes with the right feature set. This is what to look for in an educational flat panel:

  • Durable build for active classrooms – Classrooms can be very busy and active, and in order to protect your school’s AV investment, the flat panel should be fortified for high energy users.
    The Clevertouch includes a thick layer of safety glass that resists shattering and puncturing in even the most energetic classrooms.
  • Enhanced connectivity for many devices – Interactive displays make classrooms a hub for collaboration. That’s because with the Clevershare, for instance, up to 50 students can connect to the display at once. That way, students can present as groups and from their own devices at their desks.
  • Strong educational software offerings – Any display built for educational purposes is only as effective as its educational software. This part of the package is frequently overlooked by some display brands, but that’s not the case with the Clevertouch.
    In addition to Lynx, the Clevertouch also comes with Snowflake (which allows for personalized learning and multiple learning zones) and the Cleverstore. Through the Cleverstore, teachers can access a wealth of free apps that can be adapted for more interesting lessons.

A Few More Reasons Why Clevertouch Is a Leader in Interactive Flat Panels

There’s a lot to like about the Clevertouch, but even all of the above doesn’t cover it completely. If you’re still not sure what makes it one of the best interactive flat panels available, here are some more features to consider:

  • Zero bonded glass display – Most interactive panels contain an air gap between the outer layer of glass and the interactive layer that sits underneath. This gap reduces touch responsiveness, but the Clevertouch is built without it. The result is a more accurate and more responsive interactive screen.
  • Better speakers and USB connectivity – The Clevertouch is also built with a pair of 15W speakers and some with a subwoofer, which provide richer audio. Compare this to the typical display, which only comes with lesser watt speakers and without a subwoofer.
  • Improved response time – On average, an interactive display provides an 8.5ms response time. However, the Clevertouch is significantly better with a response time of 5ms. That may not seem like a big difference, but it’s noticeable for detailed handwriting purposes.
  • Expanded RAM and ROM – The Clevertouch also comes with additional RAM (6GB vs 4GB) and ROM (64GB vs 32GB), compared to the typical interactive flat panel. The extra memory means better performance and more storage for software.

A Certified Integrator Can Set Up The Best Interactive Flat Panel For Your Needs

Solutions like the Clevertouch are more than mere interactive screens. They’re comprehensive educational solutions that drive engagement (for professionals and students) and makes for more interesting presentations.

In the classroom or meeting room, an interactive flat panel can act as the focal point, but only if it’s installed and configured properly. These are services a certified AV integrator can provide, but an integrator can do much more. A trusted AV team can also determine which flat panel model is best for your application and maintain the solution for years of use.

Digital Whiteboards vs. Dry Erase Boards

Digital Whiteboards vs Dry Erase Boards

The modern classroom needs modern learning solutions, and one of the biggest impacts your school can make for its students is upgrading those obsolete dry erase boards.

When it is time to make a switch, most schools opt for digital whiteboard technology. Both dry erase and digital boards can be used for whiteboarding tasks, but that’s where the similarities end.

Six Ways Digital Whiteboards Are An Upgrade Over Dry Erase Boards

There are several benefits to going digital with your school’s lesson-delivering medium. Dry erase boards, chalkboards and overhead projectors have each had their turn in the classroom, but a digital board offers much more than simple lesson presentation. For example:

Digital Whiteboards Are Interactive And More Engaging

Digital whiteboards are interactive technologies – they respond to user commands in a way that dry erase boards obviously cannot. With a large interactive surface to work with, digital whiteboards can drive a variety of lessons and presentations.

For example, teachers can incorporate simple activities like fill-in-the-blank labeling, quizzes or games to expand on lesson information. Students can approach the display and use it with simple gestures or taps – just like a tablet or smartphone. Most people get comfortable with the touchscreen display right away and can operate it with confidence. Confident, comfortable students tend to be more engaged learners.

Digital Whiteboards Allow Users To Save And Share Any Presentations

When the lesson or meeting is over, there’s no easy option for saving your work with a dry erase board. You can take a picture of it with your own device, but then you’ve got to share that image from your own device to everyone else’s. Not the most efficient or convenient way to handle that, and it could compromise your privacy.

Digital whiteboards are designed to circumvent this issue, because you can save any digital whiteboarding session to the display. That’s assuming the display has onboard memory to work with. If it does, teachers can save the lesson to pick it up at a later time, or it can be shared with students via e-mail or an app.

A Digital Whiteboard Supports Any Type Of Media For Presentation Purposes

With dry erase boards, you’re confined to writing and drawing. And let’s be honest, teachers don’t have the time for high quality illustration. That limits the visual tools educators have to work with while trying to engage students.

Leading interactive displays like the Clevertouch are packaged with excellent whiteboarding software. Clevertouch’s Lynx is linked to the display’s built-in browser, so presenters can jump online and pull any images, videos, text, or animations to build a compelling multimedia experience. With endless materials to work with, teachers can give their students plenty to look at, listen to and think on.

Digital whiteboarding also provides teachers with plenty of annotating tools to work with, too. Ink precisely with pens or stick with markers for a familiar dry erase board feel. There’s also plenty of colors to work with and you’ll never have to worry about students making off with an unguarded marker.

Digital Whiteboards Make Collaboration Easier To Manage

Digital whiteboards are set up for efficient collaboration, which is one of those things that you just can’t manage on a dry erase board.

With an interactive flat panel like the Clevertouch, though, the teacher and every student in the class can connect to the display at the same time. Through the display’s Clevershare app, up to 50 devices can connect and collaborate. Use this opportunity to have student groups present projects to the rest of the class. Send quizzes to individual students for a quick knowledge check. Or, just distribute the lesson to every student so everyone has the lesson material they need.

Digital Whiteboards Are Easier To Keep Clean

Did you forget to wipe the dry erase board after the lesson? Too late now, it’s got a permanent streak on it. If it’s cleaned after every use, a dry erase board can last for some years, but it will get dingier along the way. Eventually, an eraser will only push that ink around and create streaks instead of cleaning it off, and some of the ink will end up on clothing, causing stains.

Dry erase boards are a bit of a mess. Digital whiteboards aren’t. They don’t require ink to work and they only need the occasional wipe down to retain their optical clarity.

Digital Whiteboards Are Built For Busy Classrooms

It’s tough to keep order in some classrooms, especially among younger students. When chaos is at its maximum, quality digital whiteboards can withstand the stray pencil or flailing hand. Clevertouch digital whiteboards are built with thick glass surfaces that resist puncture and shattering. Durability is one of the biggest differences between low quality and high-quality interactive displays, and the difference could be a greatly extended service life.

Digital Whiteboards Are A Better Fit For Students, Teachers And Professionals

Digital whiteboards do much more than just take notes. They engage with media-rich presentations, give educators valuable lesson-building tools, and make collaboration a better experience for students and professionals alike. They’re easier to keep clean and they’re designed to last for many years, so digital whiteboards are a long-term investment.

If better collaboration, lessons, and meetings are something your organization could benefit from, then it’s time to speak with a reputable AV integrator to discuss moving on from your dry erase boards to embrace the power of interactive whiteboard technology.

Best Practices For Teacher Videos

Best Practices For Teacher Videos

Best Practices For Teacher Videos

School districts are embracing video creation for their teachers and students, giving educators the power of technology to deliver better lesson content. Students respond well to video lessons, especially if they are available on demand. With an inventory of class videos available, students can perform research, answer homework questions, and improve their understanding wherever and whenever.

The goal for teachers is to create videos that teach students in an engaging manner. However, that’s not always as easy as it sounds. Technology doesn’t provide the same kind of feedback that students do, and teaching in front of a camera requires an adjustment period. However, with the right video solutions in place, your teachers will be more comfortable and more effective – and produce better videos as a result.

How to Capture Better Video in the Classroom

Good instructional videos start with good video capturing. If the room is too dark, if the room’s acoustics are bad, or if the instructor isn’t well framed, the audience will be distracted instead of paying attention to important information.

There are a few simple tools that can overcome these production issues, though. For example:

  • Need better lighting? – There are numerous inexpensive products that can add a bit more lighting to your videos. You don’t need professional-level lighting to set up teaching videos, and most solutions are compact enough to fit on a desk or nearby shelf. Ring lights and light cubes are popular options, and many can mount to a laptop for easier positioning.
  • Need better framing? – Teachers need to stay in frame for students to maintain their focus on the video. To minimize framing fuss, add a PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) camera for video capturing. An automated PTZ camera will follow the instructor as they move around the room, ensuring they remain in sight at all times. This is a good choice for teachers who record lessons they’re delivering to in-class students.
  • Need better audio? – Clear audio is also essential for lesson delivery, and teachers can either use a worn microphone or utilize the microphone built into an interactive display. In both cases, the teacher will be easily heard over any ambient noise.

A Couple of Solutions That Make Teaching Videos More Interesting

The above solutions will work for most traditional lectures, but what if you want to bring in some visually heavy concepts or a lot of notes? Ideally, you’d have a way to present text, images, and ideas clearly through the video. This is a challenge for teachers who rely on a traditional whiteboard because those don’t show up well on video.

Instead, consider one of these solutions to better integrate annotating and media into your teachers’ video lessons:

  • Interactive flat panels and whiteboarding – With an interactive flat panel like the Clevertouch, teachers can record a whiteboarding session and audio at the same time. The instructor annotates on the board while speaking, as if they were using a physical whiteboard during a lesson. Through the Clevertouch, teachers can also bring in images or videos to supplement the lesson visually. When finished, the teacher can upload the video to a secure library for students to review later.
  • eGlass – eGlass is made for lesson delivery, utilizing a camera, a transparent dry erase board and a light to function. During operation, the teacher stands behind the board and writes on it normally. The camera records this and outputs it to video.
    The effect is professional-level and minimalist. Nothing appears in frame except for the instructor and what they write on the transparent board, which isn’t visible. The instructor can wear a microphone for audio pickup.

Schools Also Need Secure Video Storage and Management Solutions

So, you’ve got a deep collection of excellent teaching videos. You followed all the production tips and are using the best technology to craft the best learning experience for every student. The question now is: Where are you going to put those videos?

Some schools use YouTube as their video library of choice, but there are issues there. YouTube is open to the world, and it’s difficult to monitor activity on the platform. In many ways, it’s not the ideal platform for schools.

A leading educational alternative is DEVOS, available through Discover Video. DEVOS is a video storage and management solution specifically designed for schools. Some of its features include:

  • Video distribution to any device – DEVOS can capture video from a variety of sources and deliver that audio to any device, whether it’s a desktop, laptop, tablet, or phone. Video can also be delivered to any networked video outputs, like in-class televisions.
  • Stream and securely store video content – DEVOS can stream and prerecord videos for later viewing. In both instances, the video will be securely stored in a password-protected library that only staff and students with permission can access.
  • Remote, back-end user management – Through DEVOS’s cloud-based management platform, IT can create and remove user profiles, and set permissions for each user. That way, only users with the necessary permissions can record, publish, or access video content.
  • Viewer restrictions – DEVOS also allows administrators to restrict access to videos by delivering only to certain devices or requiring viewers to input a password first. This isn’t YouTube where privacy is difficult to maintain.
  • Teachers and students retain video rights – Schools and those involved in video production retain rights to all video content. Remember that public video platforms like YouTube assume limited rights over the video as soon as it’s uploaded to the platform.
  • Compatibility with learning management systems – DEVOS can also be integrated with popular learning management systems (LMS). Once done, educators can organize the video they create into multi-part lessons for more effective instruction.

The Best Video Instruction Engages All Learners

As learning tools, videos work so well because humans are visually focused. However, some students have accessibility concerns that make it difficult for them to take part in the lesson. Just because they can see the screen doesn’t mean they can follow the discussion.

To ensure your videos are accessible to all your students, consider pairing every video with closed captioning. This is an add-on feature available to DEVOS users, which is another reason to consider it.

Allowing students to access video lessons on their time solves additional accessibility concerns. Students learn at different speeds, and some do better without classroom distractions. A video on demand library will help every learner reinforce lesson material and perform better, as a result.

A Certified Integrator Can Help Your Teachers Create Better Learning Content

Video production solutions can do a lot for your school, including improving lesson creation and delivery. Setting up video production technology isn’t a simple job, though, which is why most schools and universities bring in a certified AV integrator to help.

An experienced AV integrator can help clients map out their video production system and select the right hardware for the job. Integrators can also position and install the equipment, and help schools configure their technology so it’s ready to go as soon as it’s installed.

An integrator can also provide ongoing support for your AV technology, including any video production and streaming equipment. This includes remote, onsite, and preventative maintenance, as well as training, so your teachers can start creating better video lessons immediately.