Supporting Hybrid Learning
Today and for the future using WolfVision Cynap solutions
Laying the foundations for the hybrid classroom
The Covid-19 pandemic has triggered an exponential growth in adoption of technology to support online learning which no one could have predicted. The use of collaboration tools supporting multimodal and hybrid teaching models has rapidly become the norm.
Hybrid learning modality supports simultaneous teaching for both in-person and remote-participants in classroom environments, and this has triggered a massive change in the way universities approach course design and in how they plan to provide high quality contact time for their students.
Large numbers of universities, colleges, schools, and other educational institutions are contacting WolfVision and asking broadly similar questions about how to integrate technology to support hybrid learning modality, and importantly how to best maintain a consistent learning experience when preparing to move classes online. This short article addresses some of these questions.
The evolution of WolfVision Cynap
Since its introduction, the Cynap product family has been designed to simplify AV/IT systems design in classrooms of all sizes, whilst at the same time, helping to reduce complexity, costs, and ongoing support requirements.
It is not surprising that there has been a significant increase in demand for Cynap’s recording, streaming, webcasting and web conferencing functionality, and universities worldwide are now leveraging these tools to extend the flexibility and reach of their classrooms.
Cynap‘s integrations with MS Teams, Zoom and WebRTC conferencing platforms have enabled existing WolfVision customers to migrate seamlessly to hybrid learning without compromising the in-room learning experience for students.
How can Cynap solutions help to deliver hybrid learning at scale?
Timetabling at most universities is an extremely complex task and juggling departmental space and technology requirements is also often extremely challenging. Universities now face the added challenge of creating and managing hybrid learning environments.
Previously universities were restricted to installation of a small number of ‘flagship’ collaborative learning spaces that were not accessible to all, simply because there were not enough of them. The WolfVision solution has been the development of a cost-effective, easy-to-use range of devices with differing specifications but with a universal user inter-face.
All Cynap devices provide an intuitive and identical user interface, which enables users to move seamlessly between small seminar rooms, large lecture theatres and active learning environments, without encountering any technology challenges, and to easily control these systems without requiring additional support.
Single box multi-functional systems such as Cynap minimize potential points of failure and are suitable for rapid deployment. AV and IT teams can manage Cynap devices remotely, minimizing maintenance, and making them also suitable for multi-campus university installations. Rooms can be switched easily between face-to-face, remote or hybrid modality without requiring extra equipment or reconfiguration, and all rooms provide a consistent user ex-perience regardless of the level of equipment chosen for each individual room.
The intentions of an institution are often not solely driven by a need to urgently address the current challenges, but also by a desire to explore how new innovations could be introduced into teaching methodology that are also beneficial for the longer term, i.e. for a post-pandemic environment.”Jonathan Owen Solutions architect - WolfVision
Everybody talks about ‘bring your own device’ but what about ‘bring no device’?
Cynap supports native screen mirroring, allowing users to present wirelessly from any device, without needing a dedicated app or having to pay any recurring license fees.
Cynap also allows users to login directly with their Microsoft 365 credentials and present content on-screen without needing a laptop or other mobile device, giving users the freedom to decide how they present. A device agnostic learning environment is important for laptop, smartphone, and tablet users, but WolfVision systems also provide a unique ‘Bring no device’ capability, where content can be displayed on-screen directly on a Cynap system via connected USB or network drives, cloud services, Microsoft 365, or by using the built-in web browser.
This also provides a very useful back-up option in the event of users not being able to use their personal devices either to device and/or battery failure, or perhaps if somebody has forgotten to bring a charger cable, or too few power sockets are available for use in the room.
MS Teams is an incredible teaching tool, but isn’t it often too confusing to use?
Microsoft Teams is a powerful tool but sometimes we receive feedback that its standard interface can be confusing in the classroom and can be a challenge to teaching staff. The WolfVision integration on Cynap systems reduces the necessary classroom controls to a minimum, simplifying them and allowing users to focus on the key components used during online and hybrid classes, eg. the video aspects plus the on-screen sharing of dynamic multi-source content, both of which can also be controlled ‘touchlessly’ using WolfVision’s vSolution App if required. For anybody who needs to use chat functionality or wants to share files, these users are mostly logging in using their own laptop and then run Teams simultaneously on both their own device and the Cynap system.
A key advantage when using the WolfVision systems Microsoft Teams integration is that multi-window content can be easily shared on-screen for the benefit of both in-person and remote session participants using a simplified control interface during MS Teams classes.”Jonathan Owen Solutions Architect - WolfVision
How can Cynap solutions support existing lecture capture infrastructure?
Most educational institutions are already recording large volumes of lectures for on-demand viewing. When introducing infrastruc-ture to support hybrid learning it is important to consider how these lessons will be recorded – whether systems are interfacing with existing video management platforms such as Panopto, or whether this will require additional investment.
Depending on model, WolfVision Cynap family systems are supporting either local recording or interfacing with Panopto.
Currently the Cynap and Cynap Core Pro support lecture recording, allowing users to simultaneously record multi-window presentation content together with a live IP camera feed. Recordings can be published directly to an existing lecture capture platform, saved to a network drive or stored locally on a USB.
How can I leverage room-to- room streaming, or streaming to local mobile devices?
The ability to send or receive network streams helps to extend a classroom and increase the flexibility of learning spaces. When social distancing is required or where there is a need to cater for overflow classes, on-screen content is often required to be streamed ‘live’ to one or more locations.
During the pandemic when classroom capacities are necessarily reduced, the option to stream live to additional rooms is extremely useful, particularly when smaller learning spaces are to be used.
Cynap devices can live stream and record simultaneously, providing valuable flexibility, and functionality is also available to stream out to individual student laptops, smartphones and tablets. This provides benefits in making lesson content readily available to larger audiences, and it also supports students who may have special learning needs which can be met by enabling them to view live teaching activities on their own device.
By selecting a combination of Cynap Pure Pro, Core Pro and Cynap systems, universities are now able for the first time to create hybrid spaces of any size, right across their campuses, ensuring that access is not restricted to a lucky few.Jonathan Owen Solutions Architect - WolfVision
How can I use webcasting to reach even larger audiences?
Live streaming means the ability to stream media to an audience in real-time, preferably with the option to record the content for on-demand viewing. This gives students the choice of attending live sessions online, or to watch later at a more convenient time. Educational institutions can reach more students than ever before – for example those with work or family commitments, health or disability issues, or who may be absent from timetabled lectures due to sports tours or field trip assignments.
In the new hybrid world, during and post pandemic, live streaming has also helped to overcome the fluctuating restrictions on travel that have meant that for many, physical presence in a classroom is either difficult, or simply not possible. Even sports events, concerts, or other large gatherings that would normally be 'in-person only' can be opened up to a wider audience, and the sense of occasion maintained by the provision of a 'live stream.'
An installed solution like Cynap that interfaces with other streaming services such as Wowza, YouTube, Facebook and others, and which broadcasts teaching activity and live events to an external audience helps to maintain communications during times like the current pandemic, but also afterwards, it could potentially be used as a cost-effective way for university staff to reach a global audience without the constant need for expensive foreign travel.
These are just some of the key questions to consider when considering hybrid learning infrastructure. There are also many other supporting advantages that are important. WolfVision customers enjoy regular free-of-charge firmware updates, helping with future-proofing, and maintaining compatibility with integral parts of the overall system such as web conferencing platforms, screen mirroring protocols etc. and there are no recurring license fees or other charges that can dramatically increase the overall cost of ownership.
Built on Linux, WolfVision Cynap solutions offer enterprise level security, providing a safe and secure wireless presentation and collaboration environment, with flexible control options such as via Room management APIs, touchscreen, remote control, mobile device, keyboard and mouse, or completely touchless operation using WolfVision’s vSolution App.
These are without question, challenging times for us all, both in our personal and professional lives. We are proud to be involved in so many projects throughout the world, where WolfVision technology is being used to create effective hybrid working and learning enviroments.
Contact us now to explore how WolfVision solutions could be used to transform working and learning in your own organisation.