Sep 27 2021

How Small IT Departments Can Manage HyFlex Classrooms at Scale

AV over IP enables IT staff to monitor HyFlex rooms from a centralized location.

In the Before Times, a professor would enter a classroom, turn on the computer and discover a network connectivity problem. This professor might try to tinker with the technology, letting a few minutes pass before calling IT. As IT sends a staff member to investigate, students begin to arrive and wait for their disrupted class to start. 

On a post-pandemic campus with increasingly complex systems, IT departments need a different approach. Educational technologies are increasing. But IT staff members are not. Answering help desk tickets as they come is not the best way to provide support for today’s classrooms. 

Ideally, connectivity should be checked well before a class is scheduled to start. This is possible with an Audio-Visual over Internet Protocol (AV over IP) solution, which allows AV data to transfer over a LAN, WAN or the internet. This way, even small IT departments can proactively manage the growing number of technologies they oversee from a centralized location. 

To Limit Classroom Disruption, Take a Proactive Approach to Troubleshooting

When all AV technologies are on the network, IT staff members can monitor almost every technology from a remote location and receive immediate notification when something is down. 

This enables technicians to proactively check and triage as they troubleshoot microphones, cameras and projectors that aren’t communicating as they should be. If remote troubleshooting doesn’t work, there is time to send a technician to investigate before class starts. 

If IT staff are struggling to manage all the institution’s educational technologies — even from a centralized location — consider outsourcing some equipment monitoring to a managed service provider like CDW•G

More Flexibility and Scalability for Route Switches

Another advantage of AV over IP is that it makes it possible to quickly change classroom configurations; for example, opening or closing a room to make it larger or smaller via air walls.
 
An IT employee (or even a faculty member) can also reconfigure the room for different classroom sizes or curricula. These can be preprogrammed changes or large changes that occur every semester to accommodate new classes.
 
In short, AV over IP offers a lot of flexibility for quickly reconfiguring classrooms and managing devices.

To Make HyFlex Classes Work, Support the Infrastructure 

AV over IP also provides high bandwidth and low latency, which is especially important now. As COVID-19 variants become an increasing concern, having the ability to custom configure wireless infrastructure to meet bandwidth demands is critical for limiting academic disruption, whether students are in person, synchronous or asynchronous. 

Regardless of when the pandemic will end, higher education networks must be prepared to meet the demands of emerging technologies and services. 

An outdated wireless infrastructure won’t be able to adapt to the service integrations and emerging technologies that are key to enhancing student experiences. And as smart devices become more popular, the wireless infrastructure will have to handle even more endpoints in the years to come. 

To effectively manage the classrooms of the future, IT departments need a forward-thinking strategy.

This article is part of EdTech: Focus on Higher Education’s UniversITy blog series.

A stockphoto/ iStock / Getty Images Plus