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Inside Harvard Business School’s hybrid classrooms

RGB Spectrum’s QuadView UHDx multiviewer has helped in-classroom and remote students benefit alike from the school’s case study method of teaching.

Inside Harvard Business School’s hybrid classrooms

Probably the most famous business school in the world, and still ranked the best by the Financial Times, Harvard Business School has responded to the Covid-19 pandemic by designing hybrid classrooms that will accommodate both remote and in-classroom students.

The hybrid classrooms have been in use when the business school’s response to the pandemic required and allowed this, allowing the famous case study method of instruction to continue.

To maintain the integrity of the classroom experience, the school’s AV engineers and instructional designers had to rise to significant design challenges. Firstly, they needed the classroom chalkboards and class materials to be clearly visible to remote students, allowing professors to teach in the classroom the way they did prior to the pandemic. Secondly, they had to capture the faces of individual classroom and remote students for them to be seen together simultaneously.

The engineers needed a simple pathway to support remote students and the ideal conduit was video teleconferencing. The key challenge was incorporating the variety of dynamic content, such as blackboards, whiteboards, cameras and PC presentations, into these videoconferencing sessions.

To accomplish this, HBS engineers utilised the multi-image display capability of RGB Spectrum’s QuadView multiviewer. The QuadView UHDx displays up to four switchable sources simultaneously in a consolidated image in a variety of customisable layouts.

Each hybrid classroom contains a variety of sources for student viewing. The classroom is equipped with a 4K camera capturing a wide shot of the educator’s blackboard and front of the room and a second showing students in the classroom. Additional sources include document cameras.

The QuadView UHDx combines up to four of these sources in windows and feeds this single, consolidated output into the video teleconferencing application distributed to remote students. The multiviewer provides remote students with a correlated view of the classroom, fellow classmates and professor, to foster classroom interaction.

Justin Fowler, senior AV engineer at the Harvard Business School, commented: “We needed a multiviewer that preserved the high 4K image quality of the cameras plus the flexibility of custom layouts, window layering, and window cropping. The RGB Spectrum QuadView was the only product on the market that could meet these requirements at an affordable price point. It makes remote students a part of the classroom experience.”

The feature-rich QuadView UHDx delivers superior image quality at up to 4K 60Hz resolution. Educators can mix sources of differing resolutions, scale any input up to 4K resolution, and route any input to any window. Up to 32 layouts are provided and built-in audio switching allows selection of audio from any source — even those not currently displayed. Control methods include the front panel, a web interface, and third-party control devices.

The hybrid classroom achieves the primary goal of preserving the original HBS case method style of instruction and the response from educators, students and staff has been extremely positive.

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Posted: 9th February 2021

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