The Connected Campus: Centralizing Decentralized Technologies
Campuses today face a challenge in providing seamless delivery and display of media to classrooms, lecture halls, conference rooms and auditoriums. With different devices and media formats all requiring access to network resources, the need for a centralized solution is greater than ever. John Owen talks about how this was accomplished at Wake Forest University’s new business school facility.
Director of Information Technology
Wake Forest University, Schools of Business
I’ve been at Wake Forest for 16 years and manage a wide array of technologies. But in all that time, I’ve never been charged with outfitting a building—until this project.
The business school’s Charlotte Center is actually a move from a residential location to a new uptown Charlotte location. Uptown Charlotte is growing fast and we wanted to be a part of that. The facility, where we have evening and weekend MBA programs, is 25,000 square feet and features four enhanced classrooms, faculty and staff offices, 12 breakout/study rooms, and a technology-enhanced boardroom. There is one hybrid IT/AV support person who does a terrific job of supporting the facility. But given the hours that the facility is in use, staffing does present a challenge.
At the start of the project, I had two mandates. One was to connect the location for distance-learning opportunities. Typically, we would have one professor who taught a class in Winston-Salem and then drove to Charlotte the next evening to teach that exact same class. With distance learning, we still want the professor to teach at Charlotte, but we want him to teach a different lesson so both locations do some distance learning, and both get the benefit of in-person time with the professor.
We also wanted to establish a Wake Forest feel in the new facility. We want students to feel a part of the main campus through using the Wake Forest ID and also through digital signage throughout the facility to connect them with information from Winston-Salem.
With only one staff person on site, we needed to minimize the location dependency of a single person to operate or repair technology in the new facility. The technology we deployed, such as the AMX digital signage—the XPert Player—can be accessed over the IP network, but server level controls allow us to control what content goes to what player and set permissions.
The AMX Resource Management suite gives us real-time access to resources in all our Charlotte classrooms. We receive notifications on low-lamp hours and semester- and year-end reports on room usage and technology utilization. I can look at some of the underutilized technologies and make decisions on future deployments.
The AMX AV rack equipment offered the same simplified connectivity and manageability. It allowed us to effectively zone the facility with signage, cable TV, Blu-ray, PC output and audio. So at any given LCD location, I can decide and dictate what I want on at any time.
Remote access lets us take control remotely if we need to, potentially to guide a user who may be unfamiliar with the technology.
The AMX Enova DVX 3150 was important, simplifying the overall connectivity of the classrooms. Because we felt this all-in-one presentation solution was perfect for our needs, we went ahead and designed our Charlotte facility around it. With our deadline to open pressing on us, we received the first Enova DVX right off the assembly line delivered to us just in time for critical building inspections. And the building opened on time on January 26, 2012.
Director of Strategic Marketing
The global education alliance program recently conducted a series of roundtables on campuses from coast to coast. The alliance was created to provide universities with the opportunity to communicate, collaborate, and share best practices, and to reach out to one another for advice and help on installations.
During the Connected Campus tour, we sat with IT and AV staffs, like John’s, to learn their current needs and plans for future-proofing their digital campuses. They shared how they are looking to enhance and support the user experience with more standard space, cost effective, scalable and stable solutions that centralize current technologies. But also, they want solutions that are future-proof investments for new and emerging trends, as well.
Creating partnerships with universities like Wake Forest is very important. The timeline for installations is not always flexible. We try to do everything in our power to help and provide information up front.
Complex systems with disparate components are very hard to standardize—in some cases, nearly impossible. Our new Enova DVX all-in-one presentation switcher combines all of the components you need to centralize your AV equipment in a single solution on one box.
This can really help future-proof an investment. DVX was designed from the ground up to address the needs of education institutions. It sets the standard for a wide range of settings, from classrooms to boardrooms. Another key element is the Resource Management Suite (RMS), which provides central management remotely or on site.
It ensures uptime, reduces energy use and maximizes the AV and IT staff efficiency. Asset reporting provides a lot of information back to departments on which they can base training and purchasing decisions. This lets us be proactive and troubleshoot/correct before the problem ever arises.
Digital signage is another area John talked about. This provides a campus with a way to connect and communicate information between campuses with RSS feeds, news feeds, campus events, and live TV streams. There are many ways to fully utilize digital signage as a communication conduit to connect campus facilities.
Technology is continuously changing and we are being challenged every day to deal with new trends. The Connected Campus is one with a robust infrastructure and everything it needs to support technologies as they come and is flexible and scalable. It helps companies get a lot of life out of their investments as well as future-proofing them.
This year, we are going to name the most Connected Campus and make this award at UBTech 2012 in Las Vegas in June. We are looking for your stories. To find out more about how to enter your campus, go to