Innovative Immersive Video Solution Connects Lecture Halls Across University Campuses

Industry: Higher Education

Practice Area: Collaboration

Established in 1766, this leading national research institution is the eighth oldest university in the United States. More than 70,000 students and 23,400 full- and part-time faculty and staff learn and work at seven campuses.

Challenge: Improving the educational experience for students

The university is unusually spread out, with over half of the student population required to commute on buses between different campuses for classes. The distance between campuses limited students’ scheduling flexibility each semester. The university wanted to improve the educational experience by reducing course-related student travel, connect students with the courses they wanted, keep them on or close to their “home” campuses.

Solution: Being in two places at once

The university designed lecture halls where video and sound travel between campuses – rather than people. As part of the Immersive Synchronous Lecture Initiative, two classrooms were fitted with seven Epson PowerLite L projectors producing high-definition images, each ten feet wide. Students in the near-end, or “throw” room see the professor live at the podium, with presentation materials and a view of the far-end classroom projected on large screens. At the far-end “catch” room, students also see class presentation images above the podium. In addition, they see a fourth life-size image of the professor, standing on the spot on the floor where he or she would normally be. Students can clearly see classmates at the opposite campus and hear them as if they were in the same room. If a professor points to the video image of someone in a far end room, the cameras and screens are positioned in such a way that the student feels the professor is really pointing at him.

Aspire collaboration experts designed a first-of-its-kind solution by integrating three Cisco SX80 video conferencing codecs to handle all communications between the rooms. The innovative design provides 1080p (60 frame) full high-definition video and sound. The combination of the Cisco codec, Epson projectors, ceiling-mounted microphones and speakers creates a compelling immersive video experience for students.

Outcome: Greater opportunities for advancing education

The immersive video solution has enhanced the education experience and increased flexibility for the student body. The initiative has reduced the amount of travel between campuses for students and given the students more freedom and control over their schedule.

In the future, as the program scales to more classrooms, the technology will eventually connect students and faculty with other universities for course-sharing, research, faculty teaching, and access to leading scholars and courses otherwise unavailable to them

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