The largest of Lakehead University's Smart Classrooms seats 300 and offers an excellent distance education experience through recent upgrades to its videoconferencing systems.
Distance education was greatly improved through an innovation first implemented at Lakehead and now almost standard across virtual classrooms explains Bob Angell LU's former IT Department Manager now an associate of Amik Technology and Winnipeg AV.
The instructor with the addition of a virtual student in the front row is able to facilitate a personal and virtually face to face lecture with one or more remote sites through this well positioned virtual student shown here.
The virtual student works well because the over TV camera looks direct at the presenter while he responds to his remote audience and the large sized LCD high definition image of the remote site provides excellent feedback similar to a face to face discussion. Some argue that it is much better than the upper seating in the actual lecture theatre!
Distance Instruction via Videoconferencing
The classroom works equally well in a distance instruction configuration. An instructor lecturing in a remote location like Laurentian or University of Toronto can lecture and be seen on the large center screen while content is displayed on the 2 side screens (shown retracted due to the less than optimal timing of the photographer).
Students can ask questions and cue the audience camera by pressing a button on the mic base. The audience camera moves and zooms to preset locations optimizing face to face communication with the presenter.