From screen and projector mounting systems to teaching aid trolleys to AV collaboration furniture – UNICOL has the answer
As a manufacturer of AV mounting equipment for more than 50 years, and boasting more than 65,000 products in its extensive range, Unicol has been busy adding to its portfolio in recent years as a result of increases in ICT expenditure. New designs for the ‘classroom of the future’ include innovative collaboration furniture, lecterns and teaching aid trolleys – all able to be customised with branding in school or college colours. With unified communications and collaboration, the education buzzwords, Unicol has responded to these needs.
“The need to develop collaboration areas definitely seems to be growing and areas are being designated for ‘huddle spaces’,” explains UNICOL managing director David Jopling. “In addition to this, continued uniform implementation of teaching aids from interactive screens to lecterns seems to be on the rise, in order to keep all training rooms the same and to make it easier for lecturers to use the latest technology – rather than having to relearn how things work in a different room.” Jopling explains that sales of traditional mounting products for projectors and screens is continuing for new builds or refurbishments, but with mobile technology now in the hands of two-thirds of UK adults – the majority of which are in the 16-24 year bracket – the learning environment is changing.
A recent ‘Education in 2025 – Technology Innovation’ study by Polycom revealed that the use of remote learning technologies in teaching is expected to rise significantly, and real-time video collaboration and mobile devices will be the primary way students engage with content by 2025.
When looking into the future of education, the respondents predict that the learning environment will break free from the classroom: 64% of respondents believe students in 2015 primarily engage with content in the classroom, but only 25% predict it will still be the leading way for learning in 2025. Alongside this, the use of remote learning technologies in teaching is expected to rise significantly: 53% of education professionals believe real-time video collaboration and mobile devices will be the primary way students engage with content by 2025. 58% of respondents expect to see greater collaboration between schools and corporations by 2025, and the majority of respondents believe there will be a more defined career pathway through the schooling process. Furthermore, the majority of respondents predict that the role a teacher plays in education will become less important in coming years, with the role of thought leaders and educational outreach programmes becoming increasingly important to education.
The most important education segment to UNICOL is higher education, because the HE institutions aren’t governed by capex costs in the same way as the state school system. UNICOL also sees HE as a “proactive market”, always looking to improve its services through continual investment on campus in order to encourage students to attend.
“There’s an ever-increasing demand for fuller-figured campus-wide control and distribution systems,” says Unicol’s Jopling. “This includes digital signage displaying ‘what’s going on’, from single screens in kiosks to complex, video wall and LED installs both indoor and outdoor. The AV requirements for a campus are diverse including large screens of up to 90” which have to be wall or trolley mounted and touch screen variants on motorised lifters controlled through a lap top.”
According to Jopling, AV/IT service teams are not only called upon to respond to teachers’ requests for new technology and services but also to come up with intuitive ideas to satisfy increasingly tech-savvy students. To work effectively students need to have available the technology they use in their daily lives so they can relate to it during class.
UNICOL is happy to work with integrators who can supply complete solutions from hardware and software, to training and support. It provides the AV sector with support to carry out implementations effectively while giving guidance on quality, functionality & cost, prior to supplying the solution required.
“As a manufacturer of mounting solutions, we produce equipment that can be used in any market segment and then allow the channel to decide which market segment will purchase it,” explains Jopling. “The differentiator is usually price because of the additional functionality of the equipment, for instance the same projector mount could be installed in a primary school or University, but a trolley for a primary school would only accommodate a screen, whereas a trolley for a University would support screen, VC, unified comms, bespoke controller / connectivity cut-outs, custom colours and branding. By working directly with AV/ICT departments to satisfy their requirements with custom equipment UNICOL ensures value for money”.
In 1963 UNICOL made the first AV Trolley for UK schools and continues the tradition with trolleys and lifters for screens up to 98” including Microsoft Hub, Smart-board and CleverTouch; all VC compatible and conforming to BS8590.