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Ashland University and Vaddio make fashion course high tech

Ashland University in Ohio has has added online and hybrid components to its Fashion Merchandising Program, opening up the course to students who can’t attend in person .

Ashland University in Ohio has a problem. Its Fashion Merchandising Program is so popular that it’s full every term. So now the university has added online and hybrid components to its courses, opening them up to students who can’t attend in person.

Although the Fashion Merchandising Program at Ashland University has been in existence for more than 40 years, it recently moved from the College of Arts and Sciences to the Dauch College of Business and Economics. University officials decided this was the perfect time to make a reinvestment in the program, and they chose to install Vaddio hardware with Mediasite and other software solutions.

“We couldn’t expand our Fashion Merchandising programs in the past because they were all classroom-based learning,” says Thomas Kemp, director of instructional technology and learning management at Ashland. “It used to cost $20,000 to install a traditional, hardware-based lecture capture instructional learning system. Today, using affordable Vaddio components and software solutions, we can do for around $4,500 for the camera and AV bridge encoder.”

That kind of affordability makes it cost-effective to expand virtual classroom capabilities across the campus. “We’re really thinking about the engineered online environment at an institutional level,” Kemp said. “Going forward, every time we have an opportunity to remodel or add a classroom in any of our programs, we want it to include hybrid or online functionality.”

Key to the program’s transformation from classroom-based to classroom-optional is Vaddio’s AV Bridge. This single piece of hardware provides the key functionality that integrates audio, video and soft codecs like Skype, Cisco Jabber and Microsoft Lync for a fully featured online or hybrid student experience. With its USB gateway, the Vaddio AV Bridge requires no special drivers to be installed, which provides a seamless link to other components including the Mediasite software Ashland uses for video capture. The bridge even allows for easy live streaming of classes.

Besides the AV Bridge, Ashland’s fashion merchandising classroom features a Vaddio ClearVIEW HD-USB camera mounted at the back of the room to capture students and lecturers, an 80-inch HD plasma display and multiple microphones mounted in the ceiling to capture audio. Mediasite software works smoothly with the AV Bridge to record everything going on in the classroom for later viewing by students. The Mediasite codec also serves as a desktop recorder for the computerized avatars manipulated by instructors and students during presentations to demonstrate fashion-merchandising techniques.