University of North Carolina Professor Julie Dixon is a North Carolina Media & Journalism Hall of Fame member, with 30 years’ experience as a publicist. She has taught at some of the top universities in America, so when she declares that a certain classroom is “the BEST classroom that I have taught in … EVER!!,” you pay attention to those all-caps and exclamation points.
The classroom in question is room 58 in Carroll Hall, home of the Hussman School of Journalism and Media on the UNC campus. What’s so great about room 58? Well, there is the wow factor. As a space designed to support hybrid learning, it has cutting-edge audiovisual tech, from an abundance of displays, including a massive 220-incher, to the advanced audio system (more about that in a minute) to the desks and the overall “vibrancy,” as Julie describes it. It’s the showcase it was built to be, and when Julie tweeted out photos of the room, the overall response was, well, “wow!”
Julie adds, “It’s exactly the way that you would want a classroom environment to be for one of the top journalism schools in the country – exactly the way you would feel like it should be.”
Designed for better teaching and learning
But when it comes down to it, what matters most when constructing a learning environment is that it helps instructors teach and lead classes more effectively while making it easier for students to absorb content and participate in discussions.
On that note, room 58 – especially its audio system – is a success for Julie because it gives her the freedom and power to teach in her own distinct way while helping her engage with her students.
“I’m a very expressive speaker. I like to move around a lot, and the last thing I want to worry about is if my remote students can hear me,” says Julie. “But I’ve never had that problem in room 58. I love that I don’t have to wear a mic like a lavalier or a handheld. The students can hear me as I move naturally around the space.”
The best experience for everyone
Just as importantly, the students – typically one-third in-class and two-thirds remote – can hear and converse with each other, allowing for an important balance Julie tries to maintain. She describes it with an analogy: “It’s like being on the seesaw and you’re trying to keep the seesaw at balance so one side doesn’t tip more than the other side. That’s the way you feel as a professor teaching hybrid, you want to make sure it’s the best experience for everybody, knowing that it’s pretty challenging to do it.”
And which audio system gave Julie the power to keep that balance, teach in her own style and let students comfortably interact? Nureva. (You saw that coming.)
The key players in deciding to go with Nureva audio were Gary Kayye, an assistant professor, and Gary Kirk, a broadcast engineer, both at the Hussman School. Each of them is a longtime advocate of Nureva audio. Gary Kayye picked the HDL300 when he outfitted his “dream classroom” (room 11 in Carroll Hall) in 2018. He introduced Gary Kirk to Nureva at a trade show, telling him, “You’ve got to go check this product out. I think it’s amazing. I think you’re going to be blown away.”
Collaborative, scalable, affordable
Kayye says that when they were outfitting room 58 and the rest of the learning spaces in Carroll Hall, they wanted to build classrooms that were “collaborative, scalable and affordable.”
Regarding the “collaborative” benchmark, Gary Kirk gives Nureva the thumbs-up for the simple reason that “It enables two-way conversation in real time. You’re not watching a live stream. You really are in the class.”
Gary Kayye adds, “The HDL300 allows us to build HyFlex classrooms where students can join live and interact with the teacher and the other students.”
The good kind of price shock
On the question of affordability, Nureva also ticked the right boxes, especially when compared with customized, multicomponent systems. Says Kirk, “Having known what I spent on [another brand] for a previous installation, I didn’t even bat an eye when I knew the price tag for Nureva. When we first installed a Nureva system, Gary Kayye and I did a lot of demos for people across campus, and they would love the performance and then be shocked at the price tag.”
In terms of scalability, the UNC has consistently grown their fleet of Nureva systems since they discovered it four years ago. Every one of the 18 classrooms in Carrol Hall, the home of the journalism school, has a Nureva audio system.
Simplicity is key to scalability
Simplicity is one of the key factors that give Kirk and Kayye confidence about scaling with Nureva audio. “That’s one of the things I like best about the HDL300,” says Kirk. “All I have to do is plug it in, and it just works. I don’t have to do anything.” He adds that instructors appreciate the ease of Nureva audio, too. “Instructors don’t have to ask, ‘do I have the microphone? Is it charged? What do I have to do to enable it?’ There’s none of that.”
Going with Nureva audio in the Hussman School has brought other benefits in terms of scalability. “Standardization is important to us,” says Kirk. “Being able to show students or instructors one classroom and say to them, ‘every other classroom is going to be just like this,’ is so much easier than it is any other way.” And though it hasn’t come up, Kirk likes the idea of having a “spare on a shelf so that if by chance something broke – or maybe it got physically hit by something, and you had to go replace it – you could just go in there and swap it out.”
For both of them, simplicity of installation puts another tick in the box for Nureva. As Kirk says, “With Nureva, you literally put two screws in the wall and plug a USB cable in, and you’re operational. It’s just that easy.”
Spreading the word about Nureva
With their appreciation for the quality of Nureva audio on so many fronts, the two Garys are keen evangelists, doing demos for IT staff, instructors and administrators at other UNC departments and campuses – with great success. Says Kayye, “For example, I did a demo over the summer for all of the university deans and department heads. Some conferenced in, some were in the class. After the demo, none of them were left looking for something better. They were all like, ‘this solves all of our problems.’ I’d be shocked if you haven’t ultimately sold a few hundred units if we jump forward a year from now from these demos. I’d be shocked.”
With Nureva audio enabling collaborative, affordable and scalable classrooms, and with Julie’s strong recommendation, it’s no wonder UNC has chosen Nureva as the audio system of choice for Curtis Hall, the state-of-the art building for media education currently under construction. The showcase building will have up to seven HDL300s in key studio and learning spaces. We’ll bring you details when the building opens in the winter of 2022.
Checklist: 8 audio essentials for HyFlex and hybrid learning
Does your audio system pick up student voices in your entire learning space – while still being easy to install and maintain? These are just a few crucial items that higher ed audio needs to deliver. See what else is on the list – download your checklist today (no email address required).
Posted on Oct 27, 2021 6:00:00 AM