Distance Learning Teaching Station

Union College

ICB Audio & Video was the integrator of choice for the electronic classroom and distance learning system.  This historically significant facility serves the international community with its North American Archives and is one of only two Jewish Archives in the United States. The installation of a video teleconferencing system enhances the availability of international archival research opportunities and benefits the reputation of the institution through the educational impact provided by a system of such sophistication.

This state of the art facility is designed to allow local instruction, as well as multipoint video conferencing or distance learning. It achieves this goal through the integration of current display technology, the latest in audio processing, and custom control software on the AMX platform. The system has five video screens, three in the front, and two in the rear. Due to constraints of architecture the two front primary displays employ the sophisticated Draper Rear Projection System, combined with Sanyo video projectors placing images onto the ample 12' diagonal screens respectively.

The third auxiliary screen is a motorized 12' front projection system that drops down between the two primary screens when needed. The two rear displays mirror the two front primary screens for instructor confidence.

Instructors have their choice of the A/V display devices, which include local PC, laptop, document camera, VCR, and a DVD player. Capabilities also include a Star Tablet Annotation Monitor, which allows the user to write overtop VGA sources via an electronic annotation device and project the annotations onto the overhead screen. Annotations can also be saved and recalled in the monitor's computer.  

The complex audio processing is handled via five Polycom Vortex processors. Along with the source audio and instructor microphones, there are also 38 ShureMX392/c push to talk boundary microphones for student input and discussion during video conferencing.  All aspects of the system are accessible through the Graphical User Interface (GUI), an AMX CV-10 touch panel with video preview, located on the instructor workstation.

The custom GUI and control software were programmed in-house at ICB Audio & Video by an AMX ACE certified programmer which allowed for on the spot tweaks at the clients request. The system has two primary modes of operation, Electronic Classroom Mode and Videoconference Mode. Electronic Classroom Mode allows for local instruction, while Videoconference Mode opens the classroom to the world, literally.

The implementation of three local cameras, 1 instructor, and 2 student cams, coupled with the control system and push to talk microphones allows for a true face to face learning experience. When a student pushes to talk, one of the SONY EVID cameras will pan and zoom to that student, as well as send the video feed to the Polycom VSX 8000 for far site reception, as well as return to the previous display content upon release.

The center projection system can also come in to service during a Multipoint call as well. This allows two remote sites to connect, and each to have its own full screen in the local lecture hall, which allows the third full display for the instructional content.

This marriage of technology brought together by ICB Audio & Video provides the ability to smoothly interlace discussion with educational content from the vast archives of The Jacob Rader Marcus Center. This combination opens tremendous learning opportunities for all involved, and accommodates communication with an international community.