Mike Haslin, Chief Executive Officer at TUCO, The University Caterers Organisation, discusses how to achieve value for money in these unpredictable times
When the Matrix meets Education
With approximately 95% of the population benefiting from learning through auditory and visual means, and 65% of that being visual, it’s never been more important for teaching to develop with the rise in technology. (1)
Blending technology with traditional teaching allows for teachers to share information both auditory and visually. Through the last 15-20 years we’ve seen the introduction of SMART boards (replacing blackboards), ICT and coding becoming core subjects/topics and more recently, the introduction of tablets in the classroom/lecture theatre.
So where do we go from here? With virtual and augmented reality (VR & AR) being the topic on everyone’s lips, it is impressive to see how enthusiastic the sector has grasped the opportunity to revolutionize the way the world teaches and learns.
VR headsets have been heavily implemented through the use of mobile phones and Samsung’s recent advert (2) has shown how these virtual environments can introduce students to places, facts and stories that would have only been possible through the words of a textbook. Imagine learning to be an architect and being able to virtually build your designs and finding all the real-life faults. You and your lecturer would be able to walk around the design and discuss the areas that work and don’t work - perfectly combining the visual and auditory aspect of learning.
Whilst VR is ideal for one-to-one, what if there’s a classroom/theatre full of pupils? How do you keep them involved? Displaying the feed onto a screen allows students to understand what’s happening, the scale of things, what the lecturer is discussing and most importantly, it allows them to continue the immersive learning experience.
Being able to incorporate screens into a lesson easily and efficiently is important in situations where students can’t always be actively involved. Unicol’s Nest Star allows students, lecturers or teachers to quickly include video, interactivity and creative content with ease. Suitable for 33-90” screens, the large format audio visual teaching assistant is easily deployed and is designed to ‘nest’ with multiple trolleys, allowing it to be neatly stowed when not needed.
Whilst VR still has a way to go in regards to accessibility and multi-person accommodation, AR has seen a rise due to the almost seamless integration with mobile phones, tablets and even projectors. Recent developments with projection mapping allow for any surface to become a viewable dynamic screen. This is particularly useful with more practical subjects such as medicine, construction and engineering. Projection AR allows pupils to walk through specific processes, procedures and actions at their own pace with prompts that progress with the pupil. Sections of equipment light up, have notes appear, make noises or even animate to show how it should work and what needs to happen next. It becomes an all-round learning experience, you’re listening for instructions, watching the process and doing the relevant activity (ie. building a wall, disecting a heart or fixing an engine). This hands-off way of teaching allows lecturers to spend more time checking on each individual as they’re able to track everyone’s progress in-situ and provide feedback accordingly.
Projectors have long been in education but with the introduction of projection mapping and AR, it’s vital that they are secure, easily adjustable and accessible. Unicol have been producing projector mounts for over 50 years, their projector suspension unit (PSU) is specifically designed to match any projector. Unicol’s custom built PSU range are designed to suit your requirements, whether that’s 3D, dual/triple projection or downward VR projection. With micro-adjustable pitch and yaw, several images can be edge blended for a seamless projection.
However, not all projectors need to be used for interactivity in education. The vast majority of projectors are used in traditional lecture theatres and although interactive technology has drastically improved the results of some subjects, others are better taught traditionally. The use of smart boards, screens, videos, speakers and lighting are regularly utilised alongside projectors to improve the teaching experience.
Unicol’s Principal teaching aid desk acts as a central control facility for all AV requirements. Lecturers can oversee content, screens, projectors, video sources, audio, lighting and more all from one place. Built with full cable management, motorised desk top (allowing lecturers to raise and lower the height), customisable features (table tops, cabinet colours and personal branding) and with the larger models being DDA compliant, the Principal is ideal for any lecture theatre.
To learn more on how Unicol’s products could help enhance the classroom, check out the website or download the app (available on Android and iPhone).