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Case study – Reflex’s Technobooths aid collaboration at City University

Andrew Brister 13 October 2010

As part of a major £2.3 million refurbishment of two levels of City University’s library, Reflex has installed eight Technobooths. Each seats up to six students and provides the latest technology to help with project and presentation work.

Reflex and City University London have had a strong working relationship stretching back to 2007, with Reflex being a preferred supplier to the University.

While the University’s approach to education draws on more than 100 years of tradition, its approach to the use of the latest technology to impact on learning is totally 21st century.

As part of a major £2.3 million refurbishment of two levels of the library, Reflex installed eight Technobooths. Each seats up to six students and provides the latest technology to help with project and presentation work. The booths include a survival guide to help students get to know their way around the technology.

Requirements
As part of the refurbishment, City wanted to find a way of using technology to enhance student learning and enable them to work collaboratively on projects in a simple and accessible way.

The objective was to create an environment that was unique for the students in a way that dovetailed the networking capability of products with traditional methods to enhance the learning experience.

The University came up with the Technobooth concept and Reflex liaised directly with City to turn the concept into a project plan. The plan ended up being quite fluid, with many changes along the way, which Reflex was able to accommodate through effective project management.


Solution
The booths comprise of benched seating surrounding a rectangular table which has a Wolfvision Eye-12 camera pointing down from above (see pic, left). A 32” LCD screen mounted at one end displays output from the camera or the PC built into the seating area. There are also VGA and audio inputs and all sources can be selected and adjusted using a Crestron control panel mounted beneath the screen.

The PC can be used to capture still images from the Wolfvision camera which are easily distributed by the students. The live image can also be streamed to another room or booth so that work can be shared or can be saved for later distribution. It allows for the capture of paper-based content in addition to digital work completed on the PC.

Design challenges to enhancements such as audio jacks to each seating point, the ability to power on the PC at the control panel and provide ease of access to the IT/AV support team in the event of any technical failure were overcome along the way.

Accessibility was achieved in the form of a Disability Discrimination Act compliant height for the table to allow access for any students using a wheelchair.

The Technobooths take advantage of the networking capacity of the cameras to provide a direct link between students and Information Services, the University’s online resource of electronic journals, databases and e-books.

Since the booths are designed to improve the student learning experience rather than support academics, they are located in the general study area of the library to provide easy access at all times.

Reflex has a strong project management function and according to Roland Dreesden, Reflex’s MD: “Project management was the key to the success of this demanding installation. As a result of this project, we have expanded our project management function still further.”

Results
Julius Weinberg, acting vice chancellor for City University, was very happy with the end result: “The library refurbishment has made an enormous difference to the experience of our students and the equipment has changed the way the students work.”

The final word must go the students themselves. If these comments are anything to go by, the project has been a resounding success:

“It’s really useful because of the group work”

“With a huge screen you can sit in a team and work on projects”

“Really helpful for working in groups”

www.reflex.co.uk

 

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