Technology roundup

Anna Britten looks at new innovations to keep your campus ahead of the curve

Kramer EDU-Hybrid-ZR/1

Even when face-to-face teaching resumes, there will still be students unable (or unwilling) to show up in person. How do you ensure all students get the same experience, whether they’re sitting in front of you or just a face on a screen?

Pro AV company Kramer have come up with two scalable solutions that work with your favourite video-conferencing tools, such as Zoom and Teams, as well as all recognised cameras, microphones and speakers.

EDU-Hybrid-ZR deploys a display for video conference participants, and a second one for sharable lesson content. Teachers simply launch Zoom Rooms to begin the session using a touch panel, and no additional personal devices are needed. They can connect wirelessly to the display, for real-time content sharing.
The software-agnostic EDU-Hybrid-1 lets educators easily connect and present lessons from any wireless device to in-class and remote students simultaneously, automatically connecting to professional-grade microphones and speakers and integrating with projectors, interactive whiteboards etc, and giving access to cloud storage and live servers such as Panopto or YouTube Live.

Igloo immersive learning environment

There’s a sense of theatre and intimacy about the traditional lecture hall that many students and lecturers are pining for right now. Online lectures using video conferencing tech alone can leave learners feeling isolated – both from their lecturer and each other – and educators feeling like they’re speaking into the void.
Igloo’s new virtual lecture theatre is inspired by the superb, TV studio-style, 360-degree immersive learning environments at Harvard Business School and Saïd Business School, in which lecturers can see a montage of all the faces of their class and move around freely, sharing teaching aids as they talk.

But whereas those tools cost their institutions millions of dollars, the one pictured here, claim inventors Igloo, will cost you but a fraction of that.

Their immersive learning environment comes as a five-, six-, or nine-metre cylinder including studio lighting, projectors, cameras and other bits and pieces and is, they say, simple enough for one lecturer to operate by themselves. Good for virtual field trips, visualising 3D designs, running repeatable experiments, presenting complex data, running simulations and more, it is currently in use in the UK at the universities of Brighton, Cardiff, Loughborough and Essex.

Prefect Controls HobSensus

Fires in student residences are horribly common, as all facilities managers will know. Even if fatalities are avoided, evacuations and damage caused to property are inconvenient and costly. Over the last five years, of the 1,262 fire-related incidents at universities that London firefighters have attended over 90% of them have been false alarms caused by cooking left unattended, or by burnt toast. Fire extinguishers and fire blankets are de rigueur in kitchens, but if a more preventative measure is needed, energy control experts Prefect Controls have come up with HobSensus. A clever device that communicates with the hob and hangs on the kitchen wall, it ensures hobs are not left switched on when no one is in the kitchen, and alerts students if there is a fire risk.

A sensor in the device measures the temperature in 64 individual zones of the cooking area – if the temperature in any zone rises above 250°C, the power to the hob will cut out, an alarm will sound and red lights will flash to attract attention.

This will also happen if the sensor is surreptitiously covered up by students anxious to keep their midnight bagel-burning on the downlow.

Myday app update

Health-tech company UniWellBeing and Collabco, providers of the popular Myday app, have teamed up to help educational institutions give their students more digital wellbeing support.

This collaboration means a university can create their own personalised tile on the Myday platform, through which students can access a personalised wellbeing programme from UniWellBeing – this includes wellbeing challenges, campaigns, tools, and educational content to help them build positive habits, coping skills and resilience.

Myday itself was conceived to reduce “digital overwhelm” and give students all their vital uni-related info in one place.

York St John University has already provided positive feedback about the collaboration. Says Debbi Boden-Angell, director of student life at York St John: “We also appreciate that today’s students are ‘digital students’ and see their mobile device as a constant companion.

“So, enabling students to proactively access digital wellbeing support from the MyYSJ app and making it available in the palm of their hand is invaluable.”

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