The continuing spread of COVID-19 has led universities to maximise technology as they implement measures to keep staff and students safe. Before COVID-19, university campuses were busy hubs for face-to-face learning – and, of course, socialising – but the pandemic has meant that traditional college life has had to change. The majority of students’ lectures and seminars have moved online, with exceptions being made for subjects such as medicine and dentistry, which require more practical learning. To ensure those students who are learning remotely can access all the relevant course material, universities are employing technologies that enable resources to be made accessible from any device, anywhere and at any time. Where students are able to attend lectures on campus, technologies like IP video can be used to live-stream across multiple lecture theatres, ensuring social distancing rules and reduced room capacity restrictions are adhered to.
Empowering remote teaching and learning with IP
The School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Surrey is an example of a higher education establishment employing these technologies to ensure students have all the resources they need without having to be in the same room as the lecturer. The school deployed an IP video system to give students access to high-quality live streams and recorded videos of dissection lectures. The system was deployed to transmit live, close-up footage of dissection sessions into two lecture theatres, which can hold up to 250 students, and the sessions are also recorded on the university’s server so that students can access them and refer to them in their own time. This approach to learning is being replicated by universities across the UK to help keep students and staff safe while ensuring everyone has access to the same information and resources.
Keep safe with digital signage
Similarly, digital signage provides an invaluable means of communication on university campuses to inform staff and students about the latest coronavirus measures, including social distancing and hygiene policies, as well as social restrictions in different parts of the UK. Before COVID, educational institutions such as the University of Aberdeen and the University of Bath were already using IP video and signage technologies to keep students, faculty and campus visitors up-to-date with the latest news and announcements, but their usage will undoubtedly have evolved to keep everyone apprised of the latest rules and restrictions. Digital signage communications can be updated remotely in real-time, so everyone on campus will see the most recent and accurate information – which helps reduce the number of employees on campus.
Safeguarding student accommodation
IP video and digital signage technologies are also supporting living situations in student accommodation. The majority of students are spending more time in their accommodation to help stem the spread of the virus, and IP video technologies can provide them with both educational and entertaining content for their home-away-from-home. Scotway House, a contemporary and tech-enabled higher education student residence in Glasgow’s West End, recently deployed an infotainment software system to create a student TV portal that’s accessible in every room. Alongside providing information to students about local, social and accommodation-related news, Scotway House also streams TV and video in both the onsite gym and cinema. The integrated system keeps the student residents generally informed and updated on the latest COVID-related announcements wherever they are, and allows for digital signage screens to display mask reminders, proper hand-washing instructions and other vital safety information throughout the building.
During COVID-19, university campuses and student residences need to have the right technologies in place to keep students, faculty and visitors safe. Although higher education traditionally relies on face-to-face learning, right now it’s crucial that universities make the seamless transition to online education wherever possible. While packed lecture theatres and seminars will undoubtedly make a return once it is safe, socially distanced and online learning will continue to be important for the time being. Today’s students have grown up in the digital era and enjoy the flexibility to access resources whenever and wherever they want – and the pandemic has only accelerated that trend.
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