Site Guide
Electronic Classrooms

Multimedia and VC (Video Conferencing) Design
Issues Facing Designers of Multimedia and VC Environments.

Typical Classroom Images
Size of classroom
Accommodating Equipment
Student Interfaces
Technical Requirements to Run a Class
Lighting and Finishes

Typical Video-Conferencing Classrooms
From the students' point of view
From the instructor's point of view

Size of classroom

To enable interaction with all students, classroom size ranges from 24 to 30 students (three rows of 8 to 10 students each). Larger installations are possible, however, in most cases, a maximum 30 students are able to participate on camera because of limitations in camera scan and focus control.

Monitor size plays a role as well. The distance from the farthest student to the monitor is critical in that these classrooms are used to receive incoming information as well.

Accommodating Electronic Equipment

In addition to camera, audio and video monitor controls, the following equipment needs must be accommodated:

  • Computer monitor, CPU, keyboard and mouse
  • Printer (Printer/fax combo)
  • Fax
  • Telephone
  • Laser Disc Player
  • VCR
  • Overhead projection and other classroom A/V equipment

Student Interfaces

Student desks must be placed in such a way that students can be represented on camera as equally and attractively as possible.

Microphones must be selected and mounted so that there is minimal interference from extraneous distracting noises (i.e. Pencil tapping on worksurfaces and paper shufffling).

Accommodations for plugging in laptop computers and network interface outlets may be necessary at each seat.

ADA requirements my necessitate a special height worksurface to accommodate wheel chairs. You can see a special height desk in the above photos.

Technical Requirements to Run a VC Class

Administrators of a number of VC sites have discovered that it is necessary to provide a separate tech station for a technician to give instructors without equipment training technical assistance. In college environments where instructors can be trained and visiting lecturers will be minimal, a single station with all necessary equipment easily accessible is ideal.

Training in the operation of the equipment is an absolute necessity. Expectations for seamless multimedia presentations is very high especially among younger students. It is important to recognize that there are students in distant locations who are not benefiting from a "live" presentation.

Lighting and Finishes

Certain colors and patterns used on tables, lecterns, sound baffles, carpet and wall finishes do not have a good appearance on camera. It is a good idea to view samples of materials on camera before making a decision on custom colors.

Good lighting is important as well. Daylight is almost impossible to control and window treatments must offer complete control of sunlight. A combination of incandescent and fluorescent lighting works best. Lighting placement must be coordinated with student seating and must accommodate the movements of the instructor in front of the classroom.

It is wise to run color tests with students in the classroom at regular intervals to be sure that camera calibrations are correctly representing colors and that lighting is maximally effective.

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