Emerging Technology (Enhancing, Engaging, Connecting)

Changing the Landscape

Colleges and universities are increasingly integrating cutting-edge audiovisual technologies in order to modernize the higher education experience for students raised in the digital age. These new tools enable schools and educators to promote their educational goals and programs, ensure every student has a clear view of classroom activities, and provide media students with commercial media technologies crucial to post-graduation success.

The diverse institutions and methods detailed here show how audiovisual technology is influencing many aspects of the higher education landscape.

Digital Messaging Keeps Pace With Scientific Progress

When the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) Knight Cancer Institute in Portland, OR, built a new 320,000-square-foot facility in 2018, faculty realized the ground floor’s expansive windows presented an excellent opportunity to convey the school’s mission and purpose to the surrounding community. Recognizing that projection systems are not ideal for sunlit environments, the planners elected to install a 52-foot-wide 4K LED video wall they call the “Discovery Wall,” which faces outside and can display video content 24 hours a day.

“The video wall allows the Institute to tell the story of the science occurring in the building and change our message as the science changes,” says Allen Tomlinson, director of Marketing and Strategic Communications for the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute. “The science will change, and in 10 years we’ll be telling an entirely different story from the one we’re telling today.”

The building’s main auditorium also features a 10-foot-tall-by-16-foot-wide 4K LED video wall that, in addition to supporting lectures with bright, high-resolution imagery, is used throughout the year to display the institute’s busy schedule of events and as a backdrop for public TED-style talks hosted by university researchers.

Every Seat Seems Like the Front Row

The Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine (ICOM) opened in 2018 with the stated mission “to be the nation’s leader in the training of caring and expert osteopathic physicians.” Utilizing display technologies is a core piece of the school’s plan to achieve that goal.

In the main lecture hall, ICOM installed a 90-inch “confidence” LCD monitor as the primary display, ensuring every student can clearly see presented content. Additional 60- to-70-inch LCD monitors work in tandem to provide multiple fields of view for students during lectures. In the school’s Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine Laboratory, a variety of 60-, 70-, and 80-inch LCD displays help students learn how to perform muscle manipulation techniques with patients, using split-screen video to show alternative manipulation methods. When not in use for instruction, all of the displays provide information on campus events, display maps, and also connect to social media feeds.

The Benefits of Using Real-World Equipment

Educators are increasingly recognizing how valuable it is to provide students hands-on experience with technologies they will use in their careers.

At Canadore College in Ontario, Canada, this idea blossomed into a partnership with Dolby that resulted in a “Post-Production at Canadore” facility that provides complete editing, sound mixing, and finishing facilities to their students.

The studio features a digital cinema projector and Dolbycertified sound system with 41 surround-sound speakers, in addition to a color-correction suite, an Automated Dialogue Replacement stage, and full sound mixing equipment—all of which are professional-grade and state-of-the-art. The knowledge and skills gained working with this caliber of equipment prepares students for the highly competitive media industry.

Furthermore, last year alone, the area surrounding the school hosted 11 film and television shoots—which now use the school’s post-production facility. By renting the space to local professional productions the studio not only generates revenue for the school, but also encourages cross-pollination of ideas and best practices between students and seasoned pros.

According to Yura Monestime, project lead and associate dean of Media, Canadore College, “When you have state-of-the-art facilities, you start seeing incredibly professional results coming out of the student work, and that bodes well for all the film and film-related programs at the college.”

Preparing for the Future

As technology progresses, higher education providers are integrating the latest in audiovisual technology—such as LED video walls, networks of LCD displays, and cutting-edge media production technologies—to better engage students and inform local communities of university projects. Through thoughtful design and planning, these audiovisual installations are changing how colleges deliver curricula, campus information, and preparation for entry into the job market.

AVIXA™ is the Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association, which represents the $231-billion global commercial AV industry and produces InfoComm trade shows around the world. To find out more, visit www.avixa.org/higheredAV.

This article originally appeared in the College Planning & Management October 2019 issue of Spaces4Learning.