University of the West of Scotland: The future of learning has arrived

University of the West of Scotland chose specialist AV systems integrator Visavvi to design, install and support innovative audio visual facilities at their new flagship campus in Lanarkshire.

UWS has invested over £110m to create a truly innovative, dynamic and collaborative new university campus located in one of Scotland’s most successful business parks. Designed with inspiring, flexible and highly collaborative learning and teaching spaces packed with feature rich technology, the site provides staff and students access to the most modern university facilities in the UK.

The new campus firmly delivers on the university’s vision to provide 21st century, student-centred, personalised learning and teaching. Priding itself on producing work-ready graduates, well prepared for the modern business world, the campus is purposely located within one of Scotland’s most successful business sites, Hamilton International Technology Park. Mutual benefit is gained through collaboration between academia and business with practical opportunities for students to gain experience while businesses are actively invited to access the university’s first class facilities. The 24x7x365 campus promotes enhanced collaboration and will support continuous innovation between students, staff, academics and outside organisations, thanks to its flexible collaborative learning environments.

The solution

As an existing university technology partner for over 20 years, Visavvi were chosen from a strong shortlist of specialist integrators who could be trusted to deliver such a high profile and innovative project. Sixty-five innovative learning suites provide high-tech, flexible and collaborative spaces to deliver teaching in a powerfully effective and modern way. The spaces have been specifically designed to equip students with the skills most valued by industry, including collaboration, creativity and communication, thus putting them at a significant advantage as they embark on their chosen careers.

Mutual benefit is gained through collaboration between academia and business

A large 236 capacity lecture theatre features dual high-definition laser projection, inventive ceiling-mounted repeater screens and a wide array input devices. To ensure easy, intuitive control of the environment, Visavvi developed a bespoke control interface. Branded with the university’s logo and colour scheme, the control panel provides audio talkback to the lecturer, providing them with verbal updates on status. A Polycom Group VC system enables guest lecturers to present remotely in high definition video and audio from anywhere in the world, further expanding the collaborative reach of the university.

The 60-seat boardroom benefits from two adjacent 84” Ultra High Definition 4K NEC displays, delivering richly detailed content. Equipped with a Polycom Group VC system, remote meeting participants join and collaborate regardless of their location. A Crestron touch screen controller designed and branded specifically for the university provides fast and easy access to all of the systems controls.

Scalable AV over IP

A Crestron DigitalMedia NVX system was selected to underpin the integration for a seamless AV connection between all learning spaces, varying from multi-screen interactive classrooms to projection-led seminar rooms. Due to the scale of the integration, over 100 DM NVX AV over IP encoder/decoder units were used – providing secure, powerful and scalable 4K signal routing throughout the campus.

Colin Firth, account manager from Visavvi, comments: “With DM NVX at the core of this integration we could guarantee the best results for both lecturers and students – with performance, reliability and speed being key factors. The aim was to create an environment where collaboration was encouraged – a space equipped with state-of-the-art technology that everyone would benefit from and enjoy for years to come. We’ve delivered this while also ensuring that the system can accommodate new technologies in the future.”

Intuitive multi-purpose teaching spaces

When designing the new campus, the university wanted to create a multi-purpose facility with classrooms that could quickly adapt from a class of 30 to a class of 70 students. By utilising Crestron DM NVX, lecturers have the flexibility to manipulate the technology to cater for different classroom layouts. Default settings can quickly be adapted to any situation, for example if there are a large number of students attending the same lecture then two classrooms can be seamlessly connected to deliver the same presentation simultaneously, without any latency from the display or audio feeds.

The three campus buildings are joined by ‘The Street’, a bright and airy work and social space including Exhibition Avenue, a Street Café, information points and areas to sit and study or socialise. An imposing 24-screen NEC videowall plus a network of digital signage screens managed by a central content management server ensure everyone is kept up to date.

The campus has been designed to immerse students and staff in the educational experience, with students enjoying a significantly enriched learning journey – David Johnston, assistant director of ICT at UWS

The complete environment is monitored, managed and scheduled by a Crestron Fusion cloud management service. Providing instant room availability information with capability to reserve rooms at the touch of a button, Fusion also provides real time information on equipment status. Any issues are instantly highlighted to the inhouse AV team who are then able to resolve problems quickly, ensuring maximum functionality of the facilities.

As one of the largest single deployments of Crestron NVX in Europe, the Visavvi team’s extensive experience and deep understanding of AV over IP was utilised to the full benefit of the university. Working closely with the IT team, all network centric devices were configured to optimise performance while retaining the integrity and security of the University’s core IT network.

 “We delivered one of, if not the most, forward-thinking, most inventive project in the education sector for quite some time. We achieved this by working in very close partnership with the university helping achieve its goal of delivering an environment that stands above all others within the sector,” adds Firth. “It’s an inspiring project and one that we are extremely proud to be a part of.”

The result

With its technology-rich, innovative learning and social spaces, plus innovative eco-friendly facilities, UWS Lanarkshire is at the forefront of modern learning environments.

We have invested in inspiring and flexible learning and teaching spaces packed with rich technology to give staff and students access to some of the most modern university facilities in the UK,” says David Johnston, assistant director of ICT at UWS. “The campus has been designed to immerse students and staff in the educational experience, with students enjoying a significantly enriched learning journey.”

The project was delivered on time and on budget despite additional rooms being incorporated. David Johnston confirms: “We have an ongoing partnership with Vissavi who have delivered our vision across many of our sites. Reliability and support are of vital importance to our reputation as a leading university.”

In summary, UWS principal & vice-chancellor Professor Craig Mahoney stated: “Our ambition is to be a university which takes the lead in providing student-centered, personalised and distinctive learning and teaching experiences. I’m immensely proud of what we have delivered in Lanarkshire, and I’d like to both congratulate and thank everyone at UWS and our partners in achieving this important landmark building for higher education, learning and teaching.”

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