LMU – Full building refit including a Wide Range of the latest in Active Learning Technologies

Client Brief and Requirements

London Metropolitan University’s business plan incorporates two strategic programmes:

  1. Programme for Improving Student Outcomes (PISO)
  2. One Campus │ One Community (OCOC)

Various trials have demonstrated that ‘active Learning’ has a positive effect on student achievement and that it draws many more students into the campus; students are spread across the city, they can access ‘chalk and talk’ lectures from home but will travel into class to benefit from productive interactive learning sessions.

The University IT team (led by Oliver Holmes) initiated a project to identify the best way of equipping facilities for different styles of active learning. They adopted an appropriately collaborative, learning approach to the project itself. In 2017 they engaged Reflex to help with the AV design a range of different teaching spaces within the Roding Building, due for refurbishment at the end of the year. These facilities would become working models to test active learning practices and provide templates for future projects.

Innovative Approach
Project Overview
Ideation Room
Collaboration Rooms
Seminar Rooms / IT Studios
Project Success
Client Testimonial
Innovative Approach

Instead of listing room functions and trying to combine products to enable them, LMU identified specific innovative new products which would be integral to the facilities and then looked to develop system designs to make best use of their functions. Through 2017 Reflex worked closely with Oliver’s team and representatives from Wyrestorm, Barco and Ascentae through several trials and system revisions to derive the final installation designs.

“We piloted a number of technical solutions and through user feedback improved the designs and settled on particular technologies. We certainly found that users do things with technology that we don’t necessarily expect so getting them into spaces and hands‐on with new technology as early as possible is really helpful.” Oliver Holmes ‐ Information & Technology Services Director

Project Overview

Three types of spaces were created, each accommodating different active learning facilities but all meeting the common objective of becoming ‘places where people would want to be’. The new spaces were all designed to offer all the University’s standard lecture presentation and capture facilities but in each case to integrate additional new state of the art active‐learning facilities.

Ideation Room

In one of the spaces within the Roding Building, Oliver was working to the brief: ‘create a space that facilitates brainstorming activities typified by sticky note sessions and pin ups’.

A solution was provided based around Nureva Span system. A 12m wide interactive wall has been created using 4 edge‐matched Nureva projectors. This is flanked by four Avocor 84” interactive screens (2 on each side) which can extend the interactive canvas to 20m or act as independent Windows PCs for standard classroom use.

This set up allows many students to work simultaneously on a giant virtual canvas created in Nureva Span software. Items such as sticky notes, text, sketches, pictures and screen‐shares can be organised freeform or in predefined templates (SWOT etc.) on the canvas for many different types of collaborative projects.
Remote parties can join in via a web browser and sessions can be exported as PDF or Excel.

Behind the scenes, Extron and Datapath equipment allows a single touch‐screen button‐press to transform the room between ‘Nureva mode’ and ‘standard presentation’ where the lecturer’s twin PC monitors are displayed across the projected wall and repeated on the Avocor screens. Voice reinforcement and lecture capture are automatically configured to suit the room mode.

According to Jon Knight, CEO of Ascentae:

“The LMU IT team were first introduced to Nureva Span at BETT 2017 and subsequently ISE 2017. At both shows they expressed an interest in identifying a new, innovative technology that would enable them to fulfil their vision for Active Learning and Flip Learning. After ISE we set up a software trial with 25 user accounts that the University ran for over 6 months. Although the key users were in the IT team, they invited other strategic users from around the University. The IT team actually used Span software on their own devices and on Avocor panels to collaborate on the Roding Building.

Regarding system design, this was a three‐way collaboration between the IT team at LMU, Ascentae and Reflex to articulate the vision for the room – large group collaboration space with a “working wall” at the front into a full system design. The room is multi‐purpose and therefore the Reflex team were instrumental in designing the control, video switching, audio and lecture capture that makes up the whole system.”

“From this project alone Sam Barter has become a leading technical expert in the UK for Nureva Span. This started at the system design stage where Sam was checking the design of the system and ensuring appropriate cables and PC configurations had been taken into account. However, when the physical installation process began Sam was instrumental in delivering the solution to specification and tackling technical challenges along the way. Sam can now design, install and commission Nureva hardware to a standard that is so high he is identifying firmware updates that might be required in order to make the solution even better.”

Collaboration Rooms

These rooms were designed so that a lecturer can ‘flip’ instantly from standard presentation format to a totally flexible arrangement with any individual or group of students able to share content with any other groups or through the main presentation screen.

The solution centres around the Barco We Connect system and each rooms incorporates:

  • Top Tec lectern housing Barco Primary Node, capture PC, Hovercam visualiser and SharePod (for BYOD connection).
  • Wall‐ mounted Christie 55” displays at front and back of the room showing content from the Primary Node.
  • Six TeamMate vari‐height collaboration tables spaced around the room housing LAN‐connected Barco Nodes with fly‐leads for BYOD, and supporting LG 43” UHD displays.
  • Extron control system with lectern touch screen and push‐button controllers at each collaboration table.
  • Standard Clearone/Revoluto/Ecler lecture‐capture and voice reinforcement system.

In standard mode the lecturer’s content is sent to both Christie displays and all table‐mounted LG screens. In ‘flip mode’, any student can push the content from a device at their table to any of their classmates’ tables and to the Christie screens if required.

“With this state of the art collaborative class room, London Metropolitan University has become an early adopter in collaborative and interactive learning spaces. We are keen on showcasing this to other Higher Education partners as it’s good to let them experience how easy and hurdle free using Barco WeConnect technology can be utilized to increase student involvement.” Wim Barbaix ‐ Business Development Manager – Barco

Seminar Rooms / IT Studios

Seven further spaces offer all LMU’s standard lecture presentation and capture facilities and include interactive displays which encourage students to come forward and engage with the displayed material while also introducing a digital whiteboard to capture lecture notes.

Each room incorporates:

  • Central Avocor VTF‐8410 84” interactive display on motorised vari‐height mount with wall‐mounted Christie 55” repeater screens.
  • Lecture capture PC fed from ceiling‐mounted Clearone PTZ camera, Revoluto microphone array, notes captured on Eclipse software.
  • Extron control.

Speech is captured through the Revoluto array, as lecturers dislike wearable mics, and presented through Ecler pendant speakers, placed to give even coverage without feedback, ensuring high clarity recordings for distribution to students.

Project Success

Reflex’s project manager, Sam Barter, was critical to the project’s success, working with LMU and manufacturers to overcome challenges without incurring additional costs or project delays. Through the process he became an expert in many new products often surpassing the manufacturers’ knowledge of integrating their systems.

It’s too early to measure an improvement in student learning but following a demonstration at the official launch, 89% of students surveyed rated Roding’s technology as excellent. These are clearly ‘rooms you want to be in’ valued by students and others, including the Board of Governors, keen to reserve them for all meetings. They will provide the template for future LMU facilities and an invaluable recruitment tool at future student open days.

The project provides excellent UK reference sites for Wyrestorm, Barco and Nureva who have learned much about the practical implementation of their products. Reflex has also gained valuable knowledge about active learning and integration of the products involved.

Most projects impose a solution on a problem. LMU have set out, aided by Reflex, to learn more about collaborative ‘active’ learning. The spaces created are immediately successful for LMU, benefitting current students and enhancing LMU recruitment as the centrepiece for student open days.

The project findings have already been the basis of a white paper and lecture delivered at EUNIS 2018* in Paris. Open day events are being planned to allow other universities to view the facilities. These and other activities will benefit many educational establishments in the future.

*European University Information Systems annual congress

Client Testimonial

“London Met worked closely with Reflex to design AV technology solutions that met our Learning and Teaching ambitions. A partnership approach ensured that our vision was translated into workable system designs. We jointly explored the marketplace and once a technology provider such as Nureva or Barco was discovered we extended the partnership to include the vendors specialist knowledge. All building projects come with challenges, refurbishments of old buildings even more so! Having Sam onsite providing continuity from design through installation, commissioning and training meant that some issues were averted and many bumps in the road were smoothed.” Oliver Holmes ‐ Information & Technology Services Director

“We are extremely proud of our Superlab and the role it plays in training the scientists of tomorrow. This new technology will greatly enrich the student experience and highlights the investment we are making in our students’ learning and teaching. London Met exists to meet the needs of our time, and the Superlab is at the leading edge of this important work” Professor John Raftery, Vice Chancellor of London Metropolitan University

“I really like the balance between the social space and academic learning areas. It’s really exciting” Mark Boansi ‐ Student Union President