Seamless Hybrid Learning Solution for London School of Economics Cities Research Center by Shure and AVer
LSE Cities is an international research center that investigates the complexities of the contemporary city. It carries out research, graduate and executive education, outreach and advisory activities in London and abroad. It was awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2016-2018 in recognition of its work on training, research and policy formulation for cities of the future.
LSE Cities is part of the London School of Economics and Political Science, the only university in the UK dedicated to the study and research of social sciences. With around 12,000 students and 1,700 academic staff, LSE is regularly ranked in the top 10 UK universities and in the top 50 universities globally.
LSE Cities runs the Executive MSc in Cities, an 18-month modular education programme for senior urban professionals who want to better understand and deliver change in cities. It recruits 25-30 students each year, the majority of whom are based in the Americas, Africa, Europe and Asia. The travel disruption arising from the COVID-19 pandemic was a considerable challenge as it prevented almost all students from attending the programme's five-week teaching modules.
However, this challenge also brought an opportunity to transition the Executive MSc in Cities to a blended hybrid teaching format. The resulting ‘hybrid-flex’ teaching model allows students to attend teaching modules in-person or remotely, thereby reducing travel commitments and making the programme more accessible. Traditional lectures were largely replaced with innovative blended learning materials, and teaching modules were reworked to emphasise classroom discussion and peer-to-peer information exchange.
Initial trials found that early solutions were unable to deliver the quality of audio needed for long discussion and debate between faculty and the students participating remotely without fatigue – creating frustration and loss of concentration.
The programme team was especially conscious of the need to dissolve the boundary between in-person and remote participation to allow natural-feeling interaction during classroom discussion. As such, a scalable, flexible, user-friendly system was required to provide natural, quality sounding audio and a superior video conferencing experience.
The project needed to be completed quickly to keep teaching and learning disruption to a minimum, with an added challenge to the project created by a global components shortage caused by the pandemic.
Microflex® Complete Wireless (MXCW), combined with the videoconferencing experience and technology of global solutions provider AVer, enabled all participants in the classroom to communicate and collaborate with far-end participants in a natural manner. Presenters and students attending teaching in-person were able to be viewed by remote students and speakers when communicating via an MXCW640, utilizing the AVer PTC310H’s audio tracking features.
Inputs from the MXCW units were assigned to DANTE channels, which were fed into the IntelliMix P300, then into the AVer PTZ Link Software, which provides industry-leading camera technology, with the IntelliMix P300 also eliminating any unwanted and distracting noise.
Relying on trusted Shure partner M&R Communications to provide the kit for a real timeproof of concept for the committee at LSE Cities to use helped keep the project on track and within the designated timescale.
Utilizing the hybrid model, LSE Cities now benefits from a portable, powerful and fully scalable system that provides a best-in-class audio and video experience, with the cutting-edge technology ensuring the program team can provide cutting-edge educational material while preserving natural-feeling classroom discussion and make use of the many features that the MXCW system has to offer.
“For me, the biggest accomplishment is that the technology largely goes unnoticed by the faculty and students,” said Jim Osbourne, Executive MSc Manager, LSE Cities.
“Everyone can see and hear each other perfectly, so discussion is clear and natural.”
Both faculty and students can continue the learning journey and collaborate and communicate efficiently and effectively, both in the classroom and remotely.
|MXCW640||Wireless Conference Unit for Microflex Complete Wireless conference system. Configurable as Chairman, Delegate, Listener, or Ambient Microphone unit.|
|MXCWAPT||Access Point for Microflex Complete Wireless conference system. Controls up to 125 MXCW640 wireless conference units.|
|IntelliMix P300||Audio conferencing processor offers IntelliMix DSP algorithms optimized for audio/video conferencing applications.|