As the Director of the Doceo Center for Innovation + Learning at the University of Idaho, Cassidy Hall is responsible for testing various technologies and making purchasing recommendations to departments throughout the university.
In doing so, she’s witnessed firsthand the growing hunger among students and faculty for high-quality videoconferencing and distance learning capabilities, and, as a result, three years ago began using PanaCast 2 180-degree view camera systems as both permanent room solutions and mobile, plug-and-play options as part of a camera lending program.
“When we redesigned one of our buildings three years ago, we took the opportunity to add some new technology,” Hall said, “and part of that involved integrating two PanaCast 2 cameras into tables of tech-enhanced active learning classrooms. The next year we began supporting the Zoom videoconferencing platform campus wide, and demand for cameras became an everyday occurrence.”
Since then, Hall has purchased and deployed a dozen PanaCast 2 camera systems that provide professional-quality video and can capture the entirety of even the smallest huddle room or office.
“Looking forward, we are definitely aiming for a telecommuting-friendly infrastructure,” she added. “We are offering more and more hybrid courses, especially in graduate programs, and the PanaCast 2 cameras afford professors the opportunity to deliver a classroom-like view to remote students. This building gets a lot of traffic because it’s new, so I am constantly promoting technologies to faculty, showing that with the right equipment, they too can create simple, affordable, videoconferencing-ready spaces.”
Hall capitalized on the high-traffic location to start a lending program that makes cameras available to any faculty who request them. This is a particularly good fit for the PanaCast 2, because it is a truly plug-and-play camera system that connects to any PC or laptop in seconds and requires no set up or technical expertise. The ultra-wide-angle view provides a huge benefit as well, allowing educators to utilize small spaces while still capturing every room participant.
"In all instances, it’s very helpful to have a plug and play camera system,” Hall noted. “Some of the buildings used for meetings don’t have a lot of integrated technology, but now we can drop into any room with a laptop and a PanaCast 2 and instantly have a full video conferencing solution. This system is a fantastic way for colleges to get into distance learning without huge expense.”
Currently, the Doceo Center has six PanaCast 2 camera systems permanently stationed in small meeting-style rooms they call ‘team rooms’, while five others are fixed in classrooms and one unit is available through the lending program. The team rooms include a table with six seats, a wall-mounted digital display, a PC, and a PanaCast 2 mounted below the display. The widening availability of videoconferencing on campus has even led some professors to begin offering online office hours, broadening the value of the technology and providing greater institutional flexibility.
“I don’t think we have a conference room right now that doesn’t have a VC setup ready to go,” Hall added. “Video already plays a far bigger role in higher education than it did ten or even five years ago, and it’s only going to become more important and desired. Colleges and departments looking to expand their distance learning capabilities need solutions that are affordable, flexible, reliable and easy to use, and we’ve discovered the PanaCast 2 camera checks all those boxes.”