Washington University Outfits Classrooms With Latest Shure Technology To Help Distance Learning

December 9, 2020

CHICAGO, December 9, 2020 — With the predominance of distance learning and hybrid classrooms for in-student and online sessions, Washington University in St. Louis wanted to upgrade to the latest technology to help ensure the best educational experience possible.

University officials approached local integrator CI Select to help outfit more than 100 classrooms in 24 different buildings. Project manager Jeff reviewed several options from different manufacturers and landed on a brand with a 95-year history and a track record of quality innovation – Shure.

Shure’s Microflex® Advance™ MXA910 Ceiling Array Microphone with IntelliMix® DSP was ideal for this application. The next evolution of the industry’s leading array microphone system, the MXA910 ceiling array microphone is designed specifically for spaces like classrooms that demand an effortless, seamless, and connected audio solution. It enables broad, cost-effective deployment in an attractive ceiling design.

Patent-pending Autofocus™ Technology continually finetunes the position of each lobe in real time, for consistent sound when instructors walk around the classroom or when students ask questions from various areas of the room. It also combines state-of-the-art array microphone technology with the Shure IntelliMix DSP — comprised of Acoustic Echo Cancellation, Noise Reduction, and Automatic Mixing — for exceptional, unprecedented control. 

“With more than 100 classrooms to outfit over the summer, we had to not only find a quality solution, but also one that was simple to configure so we could have everything ready for the fall semester,” said Jeff Weaver, the project manager at CI Select, who oversaw the installation and deployment.

The team used Shure’s IntelliMix P300 Audio Conferencing Processor and Shure’s Designer software to help configure and network the microphones. The P300 provides simple setup, requiring less DSP programming and commissioning time. Multiple connectivity options allow for seamless integration with microphones, laptops and even mobile devices. Easy, rackless mounting enables quick, compact integration behind a display, under a table, or in a credenza.

The CI Select team was able to operate at an efficient pace, ultimately setting up 83 teaching center rooms with one MXA910 setup and 18 rooms with a two-mic configuration -- well before the 15,000 Washington University students returned in the fall.

The setup provides excellent collaboration conditions for students, especially with Zoom calls. The Shure products are Zoom-certified, meaning they meet the rigorous requirements for Zoom to operate seamlessly with the platform. It works in tandem with USB camera deployment, in this case, 103 PTZ Panasonic cameras.

Another consideration was the instructor. There was discussion about some instructors using lavalier mics to augment the audio, however, the audio capture from the MXA910 mic mounted in the ceiling was so good, no other mics were required. It also helps facilities not have to track an additional piece of equipment. To use the technology, Shure designed it to be effortless, so any instructor can use it.

“We were really surprised at how great the audio quality was,” said Tom Furby at Washington University. “Providing our students with the best technology to learn, and our instructors with the resources to effectively teach, is more important than ever during these challenging times.”

The university is also excited by the ability of the technology to evolve as the university and other technology evolves. It’s an investment that flexes based on the needs of the school.

“We’ve been in business since 1985 because we like to take care of our customers for the long haul,” said Marc Enger, marketing director at CI Select. “Knowing that our work helps a community icon like Washington University continue its mission to provide quality education to the next generation of leaders is a really rewarding feeling.”