Kramer has announced its range of future proof solutions have been selected and installed inside over 40 teaching and learning spaces at the University of Insubria – one of Italy’s leading universities – to deliver hybrid teaching and learning experiences across all three campuses.

With primary locations in Como and Varese, Italy, the University of Insubria is home to over 12,000 students, 400 faculty members, and 320 technical and administrative staff across seven departments.

After receiving funding from the Lombardy Regional Council, the university teamed up with Adicom Group and Kramer, to create new and enhanced, fully integrated teaching experiences across all three campuses, to support students both in class and at home.

With locations scattered throughout the Insubria area (between Milan and Switzerland), the university has always relied on audio-video communication tools. Previously, meetings and distance learning could be handled with systems such as Polycom but with the arrival of a large number of users due to the pandemic, this went from 12 simultaneous connections to 250 or more, such systems no longer held up.

Built for all eventualities

To solve this problem, and to future-proof against any future eventualities, Kramer was selected for the Insubria learning spaces retrofit, impacting 25 classrooms, five lecture halls, and 10 mobile studios (used for recording lectures).

Citing value for money among crucial factors in the decision to go with Kramer, the university’s existing analogue system was replaced in its entirety, including the wiring to support digital HDBT.

Delivering seamless control of all technologies, and harmonised communications to those studying remotely, the heart of the system included the installation of the Kramer VS-62DT 6×2 matrix switcher, which was implemented in all classrooms. The VS-62DT provides 6 HDMI inputs that can be routed to HDMI or HDBaseT outputs, providing long-reach video (up to 4K at 60Hz) and audio transmissions, for a best in class, more engaging experience.

Another specificity is HDBaseT transmission for all the projectors, which saw the installation of Kramer TP-583T and TP-583R 4K HDR transmitters. And in some classrooms, where there were multiple projectors, HDMI output was used so that it could be rebroadcast. Two Kramer VM-2DT and four Kramer VM-4HDT 4K at 60Hz HDB long reach extenders were chosen, with dedicated HDBT lines addressed to the projectors.

Consistent quality

Kramer RC-208 eight-button compact control keypads were selected to provide maximum simplicity, so that teachers interface with an identical and recognisable control dashboard, combined with a consistent user experience, whatever room they’re in.

Luca Mondini, Front and Back Office Service and User Support at the University of Insubria comments, “Our critical points were the lack of integration between new technologies and existing platforms. For example, Teams made it difficult for remote learners to interact transparently. It was difficult for the teacher and students to hear each other mutually and intelligibly. But as importantly, to ensure adoption, ease of use was key, so, as Luca puts it, ‘the technology wouldn’t become a burden on the teacher.’

“We connected all equipment with their respective management systems to dedicated VLANs, then built a centralised server where we inputted Kramer solutions for programming the matrices and keypads, so that everything now works exactly as it was supposed to, and I can control everything from one place.”

Andrea Fincato, AVC Project Manager, Adicom Group adds, “The goal was to give teachers the opportunity, respecting their different ways of working, to use all devices: room camera, desktop camera, laptop camera. In short, everything needed to provide an AV system that fits their habits so that they can teach hybrid classes.”

In addition, the new AV equipment supports the university’s desire to return students to campus.

“At the moment, we’re experiencing a turnaround; 99% in-person and 1% remote, though students still want the ability to follow classes remotely,” says Luca. “One of the main advantages of being properly hybrid-equipped is that the university has not had to suffer declines in the number of enrolments, or increased dropouts, due to students’ inability to continue studying remotely. Instead, we’re now able to ensure that lessons are always delivered with the same degree of involvement, regardless of where the students are.”

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