Nowadays, the smart campus is gaining popularity worldwide. Most education institutions are gradually shifting their preference from traditional campuses to smart campuses. Traditional campuses failed to make teaching and learning more diversified, colorful, and efficient due to limited classroom multimedia devices. Although smart campus brings about more diversified devices, they are all separate units without being put under centralized control, thus posing a huge challenge to teachers, IT administrators, and school principals in terms of device management, device maintenance, security, and energy-saving campus-wide. However, with the introduction of NMP and web-based control platforms and mobile apps, things can be quite different. This article will help you find out how the device can be centrally controlled via a Networked Media Processor that is reinforced by Q-NEX web console and mobile app for convenient and centralized control anywhere any time.
- What is a Smart Campus?
Today, Smart Campus is not new to many of us, but few of us know what the smart campus really is. To be more specific, what actually constitutes a smart campus in elementary schools, high schools, universities, and so on?
To answer this question, we need to focus our attention on the word “ smart”. Just like many other smart applications and experiences, for example in smart homes, where all IoT devices such as a lamp, or wall plug are connected and centrally controlled according to your predefined home automation schedule. The smart campus is pretty much the same, it is about data communication and exchange among networked devices over the Internet using different control protocols for different actions and purposes.
The smart campus provides you with ubiquitous, reliable, wired, and wireless connection and controls both indoors and outdoors for a wide range of smart devices for teaching, monitoring, broadcasting, announcement, room control, access control, and so on in different application scenarios. Smart Campus is designed to make life and learning easier for students, faculty, and teaching staff, while at the same time improving the security, operations, and resource management throughout the campus.
In a nutshell, a smart campus connects smart IoT devices that are deployed for greater learning engagement for students, greater teaching efficiency for teachers, reduced maintenance workload for IT administrators, easier all-in-one device control management for school principals, and enhanced security.
- How did Smart Campus come to be?
When it comes to the question of why we need a smart campus. I think we might need to stop for a few minutes thinking about it before we could possibly come up with an answer to it. Actually, we can start approaching the question by asking ourselves the following questions.
- Why do schools or universities want their campus to go smart?
- What advantages does a smart campus have over a traditional campus
- What technologies have made the smart campus possible?
The primary goal for schools and universities to go smart campus is to stay competitive among their peers and to be management efficient. First, in order to stay competitive, schools will need to digitalize their teaching equipment by using such devices as whiteboards, projectors, interactive displays, document cameras, teaching software, courseware, lecture capture recording system, and so on, and these devices act in unison to improve the teaching quality and learning efficiency. More precisely said, students will be able to enjoy the classroom teaching with more engagement, and amusement, thus improving their learning levels. Second, schools with smart campuses can better compete with their peers to attract students. As we know education has always been a top concern in many countries, and parents have been increasingly aware of the importance of sending their kids to a better school with more advanced facilities throughout the campus. So if the education institution goes smart with a better reputation, they can stand more chance to attract more students. This certainly brings up the school revenues.
In short, smart campus helps schools outperform traditional schools in their reputation, and teaching quality while minimizing the overall operation and management costs. And that pretty much explains why the smart campus is getting popular among schools and universities and is becoming a trend in educational development.
- What advantages does a smart campus have over a traditional campus
Before answering this question. It’s better for us to take a pause and think about the traditional campus. Many of us have grown up learning in traditional campuses, so it wouldn’t be hard for us to imagine what a traditional campus looks like. Traditional campuses usually come with a blackboard on which teachers and students wipe clean with a blackboard eraser, and write with chalk, a wired microphone, and so on. The whole class is almost not digitized nether is it equipped with any networked device. Furthermore, the students cannot be exposed to such resources as multimedia courseware on the display, nor can they bring home the teaching contents on the blackboard. Also, it can be hard for the student to catch up on the missed class when they did not attend school on that day, because what is taught in the class would not be recorded for later use.
On the contrary, smart schools have all that networked smart devices used indoors and outdoors. For example, the device indoors can be an interactive display, whiteboard, passive speaker, electronic curtain, document camera, smart pen, IP camera, or lecture recording device, just to name a few. These devices not only greatly facilitate teachers’ teaching but also enable teachers to better engage students with well-designed courseware, multimedia teaching resources, and so on. Even if the students miss the class for some reason, they can still rely on the recorded lectures to make up for the class. Also, teachers can start hybrid teaching involving students who are in the classroom and those who are attending the video calls remotely.
- What technologies have made the smart campus possible?
Without technological advancement, the smart campus would not be made possible. And the development of, the Internet-of-Things (IoT), AI (Artificial Intelligence), and AR (Augmented Reality) in particular has contributed greatly to the smart campus. Schools or universities have adopted these AV technologies on their campus to improve the teaching and learning of educators and students.
First, IoT devices are the basic elements of the smart campus. These IoT devices are all networked devices with different functions. When they are connected to the internet, they can be controlled and managed remotely over the internet, and work in unison with related devices for schedule device automation, for example, a predefined schedule for certain devices to be turned or off according to the schedule, and for hybrid leaning for people who attend the class virtually and remotely. In short, IoT devices are the prerequisite for the possibility of a smart campus.
Second, AI technology is what smartens up the IoT devices. For example, an AI lecture camera is capable of focusing the camera view on the teacher who is walking up to the blackboard, or students who are standing up for the answer. If an interactive display comes with an AI camera, students who are receiving distance teaching can get to see the classroom view in front of the camera, while their voice will be amplified and transferred to the teachers and students in the classroom for better collaboration, engagement, and interaction.
- Devices deployed in the smart campus and its application
The smart campus devices can be mainly divided into two types, namely the indoor type and outdoor types. Generally speaking, indoor-type devices include whiteboards, interactive flat panels, IP cameras, lecture recording devices, projectors, podiums, speakers, and so on. And you do not necessarily have to deploy all of them at the same time, you just need to select the devices needed for your application. For example, in the hybrid learning scenario that involves students learning from home, you will just need to select such networked devices as an interactive flat panel, web camera, or speaker phone. If you want to broadcast live teaching to the students via such third-party video platforms or record it for later use, you will need to further include a set of lecture capture systems consisting of video stations, auto-tracking cameras, and ceiling mic. For outdoor devices, it mainly includes an IP camera, speaker, and so on. This device is basically used for monitoring security and AV-based campus-wide notification.
- User and User experience
It is obvious that users in the smart campus are for the most part teachers, students, school principals, and IT administrators. Each of them has a different role to play. Teachers can prepare and present their courseware on the interactive flat panel on which they can do whatever they like, for example, drawing, writing, and annotating to better engage the students with enriched teaching contents, while the students can learn with greater efficiency and amusement in multimedia teaching. School principals, broadcast notifications campus-wide whenever needed. IT administrators, need to constantly keep an eye on the running status of the existing smart devices and fix the faulty device reported.
6.1 User’s problem in Smart Campus
Smart Campus really brings teaching staff, principals, and IT administrators a lot of wonderful experiences, but they all have their own respective difficulties.
6.1.1 Problem faced by teachers
The teacher is having a headache in dealing with complex multimedia devices. As all the devices in the class are separated and located in different places in the classroom, so teacher has to go here and there, for example, to turn on or off the projector, the whiteboard, and air conditioner, the document camera, and so on. Worse still, for example, when teachers have to present pictures using a document camera and the teaching material on their laptop, teachers have to plug and unplug to switch the input source for the interactive display panel or the projector. In that case, it can be very troublesome and inconvenient for teachers to do so affecting teachers’ teaching efficiency. In addition, teachers have to turn on every device needed before starting the class and turn off the device again when finishing the class. It can be problematic if teachers forget to power off the device after the class, which can not only lead to potential fire hazards but also drive up the power cost. Furthermore, when the device is having a problem, the teacher might find it difficult to get in touch with IT administrators promptly for a quick fix. Furthermore, when teachers find their courseware cannot be opened with some errors, teachers have to struggle through the whole class with a compromised teaching effect. And lastly, it would take a lot of time for teachers to learn how to operate devices if the device is complex.
6.1.2 Problem faced by IT administrators
The IT administrator is the one who takes care of all the networked devices through our smart campus. When many devices are left powered on, IT administrators will have a hard time turning the power off for every individual device here and there, because it can be troublesome and time-consuming for them to do so when the device becomes so many. And this can not be addressed simply by hiring more IT administrators. So how to save administrators from such repetitive operations every day? It is more often than not, there seems to be a lack of early warning for the administrators to take preventive measures before receiving teachers’ complaints about faulty devices, therefore they have to deal with many device problems at a time, but it can be very inefficient to get all them fixed one by one after the problem occurs. To be more specific, IT administrators can not be constantly updated on the device usage and frequency to make device maintenance schedules accordingly, which is also true for power-saving for frequently used devices.
6.1.3 Problem faced by Principal
The principal usually faces two problems. First, how to save management costs by reducing the number of IT administrators when the devices are getting higher in number, and how to make device maintenance more efficient. And how to put all the separated devices under one centralized control so as to cut down operation costs, management costs, and power costs, and how to do audio-video broadcasting campus-wide efficiently to such places as the school auditorium.
Although the smart campus brings us lots of convenience and benefits, there still exist several problems pending solutions. And NMP is a proven answer to it.
- What is NMP and its advantage?
NMP provided by Q-NEX stands for Networked Media Processor. It serves as an all-in-one central control unit capable of putting a wide range of network IoT devices that are connected to it under unified control via TCP/IP protocols. This is because NMP comes with a wide variety of interfaces and is able to connect to all kinds of terminal devices. For example, it can be connected to independent AV equipment and electric devices. NMP comes with a control panel on which you can control the devices that are connected to it. This means if you have control over all terminal devices via NMP using the control panel, you can basically control everything connected to it.
- What type of devices can be controlled by NMP?
You can connect all kinds of multimedia products, and IoT/Networked devices to NMP for a unified control. For classroom multimedia products, you can connect such devices as wireless mic systems interactive flat panels, web cameras, lecture capture systems, and so on. For other electrical devices, you can connect lamps, fans, air conditioners, and electrical curtains just to name a few. And when NMP is connected to Cloud Sever, it just allows you to control the devices anywhere at any time.
- How you can control NMP on Q-NEX web console and Q-NEX app?
- NexNEX web console is the web portal where you can control NMP as well as the terminal devices to it. And Q-NEX is pretty much a mobile version of the web console on your phone.
Once NMP is connected to the cloud server, users can simply log in to Q-NEX Cloud Server web portal or Q-NEX APP to perform all kinds of controls anywhere anytime without being onsite.
- The deployment of NMP really brings users lots of convenience.
Teachers, can turn on or off the classroom multimedia devices with one tap on the touch panel or control panel attached to it, realizing one tap control for device power, AV-input source switching, and so on. When teachers are away from school, they can either turn on or turn off the power on the Q-NEX web console or simply on their app with no worries. And when the teachers find anything wrong with the device, they can report it to IT administrators on the Q-NEX APP. And teachers can upload the file from Q-NEX before they can present the teaching courseware on the screen, without being affected by the error files on their laptops.
For administrators, they can be saved from repeated work, such as turning on or off the device manually at a certain time during the day by predefining a certain automation task that will activate the device to perform certain tasks.
For example, you can either log in to the web portal or the app to check all the devices that are connected to it and turn it on or off remotely, and you can even predefine an automation schedule for example to turn on or off the device daily at a specific time. IT administrators can check on the device’s running status to turn it off if any teacher forgets to power off the device before they leave work.
For principles, they can cut down manpower costs for IT administrators and find out better ways to save power, thus bringing down the total cost of smart campus management.
To sum up, with NMP, the previous terminal devices are no longer separated because they can all be connected to all-in-on NMP for unified control, bringing huge convenience to all people involved on the campus. In the meantime, the convenience of NMP is reinforced by the Q-NEX web console and Q-NEX app, which allows users to control all the terminal devices including NMP wherever they like. For further information about Q-NEX solutions, please click here to contact us.
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