Published in IT/AV Report, Spring 2009

Tailoring Technology To Teaching
By Dawn Allcot

Coppin State’s HHSB nurtures potential, transforms lives.

Coppin State University in Baltimore MD uses the words “Nurturing Potential, Transforming Lives” as its motto. But it easily could add the phrase “Through Technology” and create a complete description of the education experience for Coppin students and faculty.

A liberal arts college located in a low-income area, the school also makes community outreach part of its educational mission, hosting nursing clinics and rehab programs, among other outreach activities, for area residents. State-of-the-art technology across the campus helps the school fulfill these goals, but nowhere is this more evident than in the school’s newest addition, the 160,000-square-foot Health and Human Services Building (HHSB).

Integrated IT And AV

The HHSB sports integrated IT and AV systems that set the benchmark in technology for the rest of the campus, with extensive AV and presentation systems, teleconferencing and distance-learning capabilities. According to Dr. Ahmed El-Haggan, Vice President of Information Technology, CIO and Professor of Computer Science at Coppin State, “The building’s technology systems show deep analysis of the faculty’s teaching and student’s learning needs.”

He talks about the building’s systems with passion and enthusiasm: “Not only is the Health and Human Services Building setting the technology standards for the school, but for higher education at large. I’m very proud of the work done here.”

He noted that the systems design, as well as the communication between Convergent Technologies Design Group (CTDG) of Baltimore, which designed the systems, and El-Haggan and his staff, was “just superb.”

“We’ve worked with CTDG before and we were very comfortable with them,” he said. “Although it was a bid process, we were pleased to be able to choose CTDG.” In areas where El-Haggan and his staff lacked expertise, CTDG Principal Paul E. Corraine and his staff stepped up with their knowledge and experience. “They were like an extension of us,” El-Haggan said. “They took our vision and helped us to expand it and then implement it.”

Corraine agreed that the partnership between client and designer helped turn a large and challenging project into a technology showcase and source of pride for everyone involved. “You get great projects as a result of having great clients,” Corraine said. “Dr. El-Haggan is very visionary, and his vision was inspiring for us as designers.”

Goals And Objectives

At the start of the project, El-Haggan noted several goals and objectives, including:

• the need for a user-friendly, standardized interface across a variety of rooms in the building;

• technology that would record instructors while permitting them to act naturally without changing their teaching habits, along with the means to archive lectures and training sessions, and post such activities on the web for download;

• distance learning technology;

• connectivity across the campus by means of a control system;

• technology that would not grow obsolete quickly, with clear upgrade paths for the future, including a transition to HD broadcast.

Most importantly, according to El-Haggan, the new systems had to represent the culmination of all the lessons learned, based on the faculty’s experience with technology on campus to this point. “We spent a lot of time thinking about how we can make teaching and learning through technology easy for the faculty and accepted by the students, while reaching new heights in our capabilities,” he said.

CTDG Project Manager Bill Holaday noted, “One of [our] primary challenges was the fact that the university wanted to establish a new standard for instructional technology systems on its campus. The sheer size and scope of this project effectively doubled the number of classrooms on campus in one building. That really presented an opportunity to set a standard just based on the quantity of spaces we were dealing with. In addition, they wanted to set a new standard they could deploy in renovations and new construction from this point forward.”

During the design process, El-Haggan’s department decided to install Crestron controls across campus, which included 15 buildings and more than 100 classrooms. He cited Crestron’s technology offerings, customer service, training, continuing education programming and support as the primary considerations in the choice.

Diverse Needs

The HHSB includes the School of Nursing, Honors College and the School of Professional Studies, which includes Criminal Justice, Social Work, Applied Psychology/Rehabilitation Counseling and Interdisciplinary Studies, all quite different disciplines with unique needs. The multi-million-dollar HHSB installation includes standardized systems integration across 48 rooms, most with unique technology requirements and diverse educational objectives. For instance, referring to the sound systems in each of the classrooms, El-Haggan noted, “You can play a symphony in a music class or audio corresponding to a PowerPoint presentation, and the sound system will adjust.”

Spaces in the building include a 100-seat lecture hall, a tiered 60-seat mediated classroom, laboratories and a Moot Court Room. Although the 100-seat lecture hall is somewhat representative of many of the “smart” classrooms in the building, the 60-seat tiered classroom and Moot Court Room include audio and presentation technology more advanced than in any other rooms on campus.

The rest of our discussion here explores the unique technologies and design challenges in these three spaces, along with the connectivity across campus.

Moot Court Room


To fulfill the objective of giving students an educational experience similar to what they would find in real-world occupations, the Moot Court Room in the HHSB was designed with all the technology systems of an actual courtroom, including presentation systems, as well as the ability to record it all for review, study and training purposes. “It’s designed to simulate what young litigants will find in a courtroom when they graduate, while providing an environment they can learn in,” Corraine explained.

CTDG outfitted the room with dual Tannoy sound systems that can be configured for moot court trials or classroom presentations, as well as Sony cameras, two NEC projectors, a SMART Sympodium and a Polycom videoconferencing codec.

Holaday noted that the primary challenge to designing the space was its multipurpose functionality as a mock courtroom or a demonstration classroom. He explained, “The entire court bench area is removable, providing a large area at the front of the room for demonstrations. The flexible design was taken into account when laying out the room and designing the AV systems.”

CTDG specified two Tannoy 110 TB low-frequency speakers mounted in the ceiling and seven Tannoy Di5t distributed ceiling-mounted loudspeakers with pole mounts for distributed sound, which can be zoned as a mono distributed system through the Crestron controller. Switching is provided by an Extron CrossPoint 450 Plus 2424 HVA 24x24 RGBHV/video, stereo audio matrix switcher. Two Tannoy V6 wall-mounted speakers, hung in a left-right configuration on the judge’s bench wall for program sound, are powered by a Crown CTS 4200 four-channel audio amp.
Crown PZM-10 ceiling mics reside at the front of the room, picking up general area demonstration speech from the judge’s bench or witness stand, or from the classroom instructor, as the case may be. Nine Shure MX412S/C gooseneck mics are mounted on the judge’s, witnesses’ and attorneys’ benches, and two Sabine SWTVT50-TA4 wireless lavalier mics along with an SW-72-R two-channel receiver are available for mobile presenters and videoconferencing sessions.

Line-Of-Sight Challenges

The dual configuration of the Moot Court Room presented line-of-sight challenges, which were overcome by deploying two 16:9 Draper 103-inch motorized dropdown video screens and two NEC NP4001 digital multimedia projectors. One screen sits behind the judge’s bench, while another sits on a sidewall, to be viewed by anyone at the front of the room. A SMART Technologies ID350 digital tablet annotation device and WolfVision Visualizer VZ-8light2 digital document camera at the judge’s bench permit the judge to make annotations in real time over evidence, or instructors to mark documents on either of the two displays.

The judge or instructor also has use of a client-supplied PC, a Contemporary Research 232-ATSC HDTV tuner, a Panasonic DVD/VHS player/recorder and a TASCAM CD player/recorder with MP3 playback, all controlled via the Crestron TPMC-10 10-inch wireless color remote control panel or one of two Crestron TPS-15G-QM 15-inch color remote touchpanels, located at the judge’s bench and in the associated technician’s remote control room, located adjacent to the space with a view panel into the room. Connections exist for litigants to hook up their own PCs at the counsel tables, as well.

The Moot Court Room is also set up for videoconferencing, with a Polycom HDX 9002 HD videoconferencing codec standard in each of the six classrooms with VTC capabilities. Sony EVI-HD1 PTZ video cameras mounted at the front and back of the room capture images for videoconferencing. A Vaddio TrackVIEW instructor PTZ auto-tracking camera follows the instructor as he moves across the front of the room on a special pad that tracks his motions.

Tiered Classroom


The $600,000, 60-seat tiered classroom calls to mind a command-and-control center in a NASA facility, with a 12-cube rear-projection videowall, extensive videoconferencing capabilities and surround-sound audio systems. Located directly next to the master control room, this classroom—one-of-a-kind on the Coppin campus—acts as a hub to connect to any of the other classrooms on campus. The space is one of four rooms in the HHSB with two-way distance learning capabilities across the Wide Area Network (WAN), as well.

According to Corraine, the room can have a surround-sound event with a large-format video image for a movie presentation, as well as scalable, interactive asynchronous video in distance learning sessions, as well as side-by-side multi-image presentation.

The centerpiece of the room is a 12-cube rear-projection videowall that displays images from multiple sources—local and remote, including a PC, DVD player/recorder and a WolfVision document camera—in a variety of configurations. CTDG specified RPMSP-D120U video display cube engines with CC50-3301 50-inch enclosures from Christie Digital Systems for the wall.

“We looked at several different systems,” Holaday said, noting that the cubes were chosen at InfoComm two years ago. The University didn’t want displays that would be obsolete before construction had been completed, and the Christie cubes were new releases at the time, offering the image clarity and brightness required in the room. Additionally, the low-profile trim around the displays offered the aesthetic appearance the client sought.

A Jupiter 980 processor, selected for its low latency, flexibility and horsepower, drives the videowall, and NEC monitors in the control room let the technical staff see what is going on in the space.

Video System

The video system receives feeds from wall-mounted Sony cameras, controlled via a Sony RM-BR300 remote controller in the adjacent control room; a Roland V-440HD multi-format video production switcher handles switching between camera views. As in other classrooms, a Vaddio TrackVIEW HD1 instructor PTZ auto-tracking camera at the front of the room allows the teacher freedom of movement across the front of the classroom. A Crown PZM-10 ceiling mic picks up the instructor’s voice even when he moves.

Although this may seem like a small detail in such a large project, El-Haggan emphasized the importance of this feature. “When faculty members teach, they walk,” he said. “The idea to use the TrackVIEW, along with ceiling mics to capture their voices as they walk across the front of the room, came from lessons learned, as we observed how the faculty uses technology. We want to adapt the technology so faculty can act naturally while classes are being recorded.”

In the past, instructors used lapel mics, but they often would forget they had them on and leave class with the mic still attached to their shirt. Thirty-two Crown PCC-170SWO tabletop microphones pick up students’ questions for recording and distance learning sessions.

Like the Moot Court Room, the 60-seat classroom has a SMART Sympodium with a Crestron control panel, DVD, VCR, WolfVision Visualizer document camera and a SMART ID350 digital tablet annotation device. Each SMART Sympodium can be raised or lowered at the touch of a button to fit the instructor’s height.

Citing the Vaddio TrackVIEW, in-ceiling mics and variable-height podium, El-Haggan said, “These are simple things we did that indicate how the building was designed for comfort: to use technology to create a natural teaching and learning environment.”

Audio Systems

The audio systems are a more feature-rich version of the systems provided in other classrooms, with a Denon DN-A7100 surround-sound processor and Tannoy Di5 and Di5t wall-mounted speakers for presentations, along with Tannoy 110 TB low-frequency ceiling-mounted speakers and seven iw62TDC in-wall speakers for distributed sound during lectures. The speakers are powered by Lab.gruppen amps.

A Polycom videoconferencing codec offers distance-learning capabilities. Classes are recorded, sent to remote locations or streamed on the web via Tegrity software.

Additionally, all rooms in the building with more than 50 seats—including the 60-seat classroom—feature an assistive listening system from Listen Technologies, composed of a receiver, beltpacks and headsets.

100-Seat Lecture Hall

The 100-seat lecture hall, another space with distance learning features, stands as the blueprint for the other “smart” classrooms. It includes the same variable-height SMART Sympodium, document camera, DVD/VCR combo, laptop connections, Crestron controls, Sony video cameras and Vaddio TrackVIEW pad as the 60-seat classroom.

Holaday noted, “The teacher’s lectern, and the touchpanel interface, is the same from room to room, which was intentional. The features of the system might change based on the room configuration and layout, but the end-user experience is as consistent as possible.”

Because the hall also serves as a projection room for showing movies in HD format, the sound system is the same as the 60-seat tiered classroom, with a Denon surround sound processor and multiple speaker configurations. Three Crown ceiling mics pick up the instructor’s and the students’ voices during teleconferencing, distance learning sessions and recording for archival purposes or for streaming onto the internet.

Presentation systems in the room include a Christie DS+650 6500 lumen DLP data/video projector and an AVitech VCC-8004c video display processor.

CTDG selected a rear-projection system for the space, due to the size of the room, as well as south and east facing windows, which let in copious ambient light. “We wanted to minimize the impact of lighting and the ambient light conditions,” Holaday said.

A sliding whiteboard disappears into a pocket in the wall, exposing the projection screen during video presentations.

Future Proof

In addition to a consistent user interface, the client wanted assurance that the systems in the HHSB would be future proof. Corraine cited several instances where his company specified systems that would grow with the user. For example, all the videoconferencing codecs, cameras and projectors are high definition.

The Crestron matrices are large enough to accommodate interconnectivity across the campus, with plenty of room to grow. Finally, the Crestron system connects all the rooms to a central control room location, making it easier for the university’s technical staff to provide support to instructors. “You’re able to support all the classrooms from a single point in the building,” Corraine explained.

“Help-desk staff can help faculty troubleshoot. The instructor pushes a button and the person at the help desk can take control of the system in real time, route feeds or help the instructor get back online.”

Although the design of the system presented many challenges, primarily based on the size and scope of the project, Corraine prefers to view such an undertaking as an opportunity rather than a challenge. He said, “Where someone has a unique need—and a lot of times lately that involves the convergence of different technologies, including IT and AV—it gives us a unique opportunity to showcase what technology can do.

 

Convergent Technologies Design Group (CTDG)


Convergent Technologies Design Group (CTDG), in business for 11 years, has 15 employees and offices in Baltimore MD and Tempe AZ. A design firm specializing in educational institutions, government buildings, performance halls and healthcare applications, CTDG completes systems design for audiovisual, telecommunications, acoustics and security systems, along with technology master planning.

The designers at CTDG are all cross-discipline trained in AV, acoustics, telecommunications, low-voltage security and local area networking. “Eleven years ago, we started with the design approach of addressing all convergent technologies,” said Principal Paul E. Corraine.
“Our business philosophy is to be responsive to our clients, to produce accurate documentation that reflects their needs and meets their budget goals,” he added. “We will assume the role of visionary and help them push the envelope, inspiring the application of new technologies.”
Corraine noted that this was the case in the systems design at Coppin State University’s $75 million Health and Human Services Building, where it inspired CTDG staff to work with the visionary IT director, Dr. Ahmed El-Haggan.

Other recent projects include Villanova University’s College of Nursing, the University of Buffalo’s Acheson Hall and the Network Operations Center in Verizon Government Markets.
For additional information, go to www.ctdginc.com.

 

Equipment

Health & Human Services Building

2 B-Line Simcube training and testing software
1 ClearOne XAP 800 12x12 DSP audio mixer
1 Contemporary Research 232-ATSC HDTV tuner
1 Crestron PRO2 professional dual bus control system
1 Crestron TPS-12 12" color remote touchpanel w/video preview
1 Crown CTs 4200 4-channel audio amp
3 Crown PZM-10 ceiling mics
1 Draper Access V 120" projection screen (type B)
1 Eurodesign Multi-Purpose Desk
1 Extron Cable Cubby surfaced-mounted cable enclosure
1 Extron MAV 128 Plus AV 12x8 composite video, stereo audio matrix switcher
1 Extron RGB 203 Rxi 3-input, universal computer-video interface w/audio, enhanced ADSP
1 HP personal computer w/keyboard, mouse
1 Middle Atlantic ERK-4425 82"-high equipment rack
1 NEC NP4001 digital multimedia projector w/mount
1 Panasonic DMR-EZ47VK DVD/VHS player/recorder
2 Panelcrafters audio/video I/O plates
1 Sabine SW71-R 1-channel receiver w/feedback eliminator
1 Sabine SWTVT50-TA4 wireless lavalier mic
1 Shure MX412S/C gooseneck mic
1 SMART ID350 digital tablet annotation device
4 Sony SSC-CD43V ceiling-mounted video cameras
2 Tannoy CMS601 DC ceiling-mounted speakers
2 Tannoy iw62 TDC in-wall speakers
1 TASCAM CD-RW900 CD recorder w/MP3 playback
1 WolfVision Visualizer VZ-8light2 digital document camera

Moot Court Room (509), Control Room (517)
1 Anchor AN-130 audio monitoring system
1 Contemporary Research 232-ATSC HDTV tuner
1 Crestron PRO2 pro dual bus control system
1 Crestron TPMC-10 10" wireless color remote control panel
2 Crestron TPS-15G-QM 15" color remote touchpanel
1 Crown CTs 4200 4-channel audio amp
2 Crown PZM-10 ceiling mics
2 Draper Access V 120" projection screens (type B)
1 Extron Cable Cubby surfaced-mounted cable enclosure
1 Extron CrossPoint 450 Plus 2424 ultra-wideband matrix switcher
1 Extron IN1502 2-input video scaler
1 Extron MTP RL 15HD A mini twisted pair receiver for VGA, audio
1 Extron MTP T 15HD A mini twisted pair transmitter for VGA, audio
1 Extron VSC 500 hi-res computer to video scan converter
2 HP personal computers w/keyboard, mouse
1 Listen Technologies LS-03-072 assistive-listening system
1 Marshall Electronics V-R44P-DVI 4" LCD preview quad-monitor
2 Middle Atlantic ERK-4425 82"-high equipment racks
2 NEC NP4001 digital multimedia projectors w/mounts
2 Panasonic DMR-EZ47VK DVD/VHS players/recorders
5 Panelcrafters audio/video I/O plates
1 Polycom HDX 9002 HD videoconferencing codec
2 Polycom SoundStructure C16 12x12 DSP audio mixers
1 Sabine SW-72-R 2-channel receiver w/feedback eliminator
2 Sabine SWTVT50-TA4 wireless lavalier mics
9 Shure MX412S/C gooseneck mics
1 SMART ID350 digital tablet annotation device
2 Sony EVI-HD1 PTZ video cameras w/mounts
2 Tannoy 110 TB low frequency ceiling-mounted speakers
7 Tannoy Di5t wall-mounted program speakers
2 Tannoy V6 ceiling-mounted speakers w/pole mounts
1 TASCAM CDRW900 CD recorder w/MP3 playback
1 Vaddio TrackVIEW instructor PTZ auto tracking camera
1 WolfVision Visualizer VZ-8light2 digital document camera

Tiered 60-Seat Mediated Classroom (102) & Control Room (112)

12 Christie CC50-3301 50” video display cube enclosures
12 Christie RPMSP-D120U video display cube engines
2 Contemporary Research 232-ATSC HDTV tuners
1 Crestron RACK2 dual bus remote control system w/card frame
1 Crestron TPMC-10 10" wireless color remote control panel
1 Crestron TPS-12 12" color remote touchpanel
32 Crown PCC-170SWO tabletop mics
1 Crown PZM-10 ceiling mic
1 Denon DN-A7100 surround sound processor
1 Extron Cable Cubby surfaced-mounted cable enclosure
1 Extron CrossPoint 300 1616 HVA 16x16 RGBHV/video, stereo audio matrix switcher
1 Extron CrossPoint 450 Plus 2424 HVA 24x24 RGBHV/video, stereo audio matrix switcher
1 Extron IN1502 2-input video scaler
1 Extron MTP RL 15HD A mini twisted pair receiver for VGA, audio
1 Extron MTP T 15HD A mini twisted pair transmitter for VGA, audio
3 Extron P/2 DA2xi 2-output VGA-QXGA distribution amps
1 Extron VSC 500 hi-res computer to video scan converter
1 HP personal computer w/keyboard, mouse
1 Jupiter 980 video wall processor
1 KI Wharton presenter’s lectern
1 Lab.gruppen C 20:8X 8-channel audio amp
1 Lab.gruppen C 5:4 4-channel audio amp
1 Listen Technologies LS-03-072 assistive-listening system
1 Marshall Electronics V-R171P-HAD 17" LCD monitor w/rack kit
2 Marshall Electronics V-R44P-DVI 4" LCD preview quad-monitors
4 Middle Atlantic Quiet Cool Series custom console bays
1 NEC LCD1770NX 17" LCD monitor
2 NEC M40-AV 40" LCD data/video displays w/mounts
2 Panasonic DMR-EZ47VK DVD/VHS players/recorders
3 Panelcrafters audio/video I/O plates
1 Polycom HDX 9002 HD videoconferencing codec
2 Polycom SoundStructure C16 16x16 DSP audio mixers
1 Roland V-440HD multi-format video production switcher
1 Sabine SW72-R 2-channel receiver w/feedback eliminator
2 Sabine SWTVT50-TA4 wireless lavalier mics
2 Shure MX412S/C gooseneck mics
1 SMART ID350 digital tablet annotation device
2 Sony EVI-HD1 PTZ video cameras w/mounts
1 Sony RM-BR300 camera remote control unit
2 Tannoy 110 TB low frequency ceiling-mounted speakers
2 Tannoy Di5 wall-mounted program speakers
6 Tannoy Di5t wall-mounted program speakers
7 Tannoy iw62 TDC in-wall speakers
1 TASCAM CDRW900 CD recorder w/MP3 playback
1 Vaddio TrackVIEW HD1 instructor PTZ auto tracking camera
1 WolfVision Visualizer VZ-8light2 digital document camera

100-Seat Classroom (103), Projection Room (103a)

1 Anchor AN-130 audio monitoring system
1 Avitech VCC-8004c video display processor
1 Christie DS+650 6500 lumen DLP data/video projector w/lens
1 Contemporary Research 232-ATSC HDTV tuner
1 Crestron RACK2 dual bus remote control system w/card frame
1 Crestron TPS-12G-QM 12" color remote control panel
1 Crestron TPS-4L 4" wall-mounted color remote control touchpanel
3 Crown PZM-10 ceiling mics
1 Denon DN-A7100 surround sound processor
1 Draper DiamondScreen rear-projection screen
1 Draper RPX rear-projection cradle system
1 Eurodesign Multi-Purpose Desk
1 Extron Cable Cubby surfaced-mounted cable enclosure
1 Extron Crosspoint 300 1616 HVA 16x16 RGBHV/video, stereo audio matrix switcher
1 Extron IN1502 2-input video scaler
1 Extron MTP RL 15HD A mini twisted pair receiver for VGA, audio
1 Extron MTP T 15HD A mini twisted pair transmitter for VGA, audio
1 Extron VSC 500 hi-res computer to video scan converter
1 HP personal computer w/keyboard, mouse
1 Lab.gruppen C 20:8X 8-channel audio amp
1 Lab.gruppen C 5:4 4-channel audio amp
1 Listen Technologies LS-03-072 assistive-listening system
1 Marshall Electronics V-R82DP-HAD dual display XGA/video monitor
1 Middle Atlantic ERK-4425 82"-high equipment rack
2 Panasonic DMR-EZ47VK DVD/VHS players/recorders
3 Panelcrafters audio/video I/O plates
1 Polycom PSTN single-line telephony card for SoundStructure Series
1 Polycom SoundStructure C12 12x12 DSP audio mixer
1 Sabine SW72-R 2-channel receiver w/feedback eliminator
2 Sabine SWTVT50-TA4 wireless lavalier mics
1 Shure MX412S/C gooseneck mic
1 SMART ID350 digital tablet annotation device
2 Tannoy 110 TB low frequency ceiling-mounted speakers
9 Tannoy Di5 wall-mounted program speakers
7 Tannoy iw62 TDC in-wall speakers
1 TASCAM CDRW900 CD recorder w/MP3 playback
1 Vaddio TrackVIEW HD1 instructor PTZ auto tracking camera
1 WolfVision Visualizer VZ-8light2 digital document camera

List is edited from information supplied by Convergent Technologies Design Group.

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