Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now


Exclusive: Shure director on post-Covid EduTech

Rob Smith discusses the speed of the pandemic and our response to it

Covid-19, and the subsequent lockdown, had a devastating effect on not only the corporate world, but the education sector, too.

The speed in which the virus took hold meant many schools, colleges and universities simply weren’t prepared adequately enough to meet the new health regulations on social distancing and to deliver academic to student learning within a safe environment.

Running parallel to this immediate issue was also the need for technology that could not only communicate lessons via online modules and virtual collaboration tools, but offered a superior videoconferencing solution away from the immediate choice of utilising social media platforms as a means of delivering learning.

Patchwork solutions

The response was a patchwork of solutions, intended for the best part, to ‘just get the job done’ in the short-term without much focus on the student experience. This soon led to the realisation that these short-term fixes were being detrimental to the learning journey, with both academics and students tired and frustrated at AV systems that were inadequate for purpose, difficult to use, reliable and delivered audio to an unsatisfactory level.

It is now very clear to nearly all education institutions that dedicated tools are needed to deliver a standard of learning which is acceptable for both student and academic, and in most cases, something that the ‘generic’ AV system simply can’t cope with.

Capturing the spoken word at a distance is always a challenge, but one that becomes more significant with poor room acoustics. Fortunately, most classrooms, especially lecture spaces, were designed with a need for high-level intelligibility in mind, making products like the Shure Microflex Advance MXA910 Ceiling Array Microphone and the MXA710 Linear Array Microphone well suited for this kind of environment.

Integrator challenges

Most classrooms are designed to provide line of sight to teacher from all seating positions, however, AV equipment isn’t usually part of the design considerations. Along with the room acoustics, this is one of the many initial challenges that an integrator has to deal with when first scoping a project. This can be addressed with multiple form factors and mounting options to provide an assortment of placement solutions.

There are also limits to what can be achieved with current technology for capturing speech intelligibility at a distance. This is where multiple microphones using automixing comes into play with DSP technology to help decide which microphone and which audio pick-up lobe is in use.

At Shure, we anticipate seeing a mix of small rooms where academics can teach and present to remote groups in a space suitable to the delivery of information, with larger lecture halls and auditoriums used as socially distanced spaces for smaller groups of students in class. The focus is on ensuring that both teacher and student can be heard across physical and remote space, questions can be asked and documents shared, on par to high-end boardroom AV systems.

It’s no surprise that the education sector is now turning to more advanced AV systems that deliver consistent audio clarity and speech intelligibility in any learning environment. As a manufacturer our focus is clear; to continue to support the education sector with our Ecosystem, providing academics with the tools they need to conduct classes without obtrusive technology with clear, intuitive systems that provide clarity and offer academics the best possible platform to continue do what they do best: teach.