Many schools and enterprises quickly shifted the bulk of their students and employees to some version of remote collaboration in the spring of 2020. Now that hybrid work and learning are the norm; temporary fixes must be updated to deliver permanent, equitable solutions. This article explores the critical role of AV technologies in supporting collaboration now and in the future.
When the world went fully remote, almost overnight, administrators and technology leaders expected it would be for some undefined, temporary period. We thought we’d return to our classrooms and conference rooms as we left them. But that’s not how things turned out.
In most cases, when we suddenly had to work and learn from home, our technology managers were already supporting some sort of distance learning or teleworking solutions. It was just a matter of getting it to scale exponentially and plugging the holes where there were significant issues.
The Role of AV Technologies in Hybrid Collaboration Solutions
Two years later, the lessons we learned from this trial by fire have us rethinking everything about how our stakeholders communicate. It’s time to re-evaluate the critical role of AV technologies in equipping collaboration in what is sure to be a very different-looking world in the future.
If you ask technology managers what they think the future of collaboration looks like, most will tell you they do not know exactly. However, it will not look like the past. There is a distinct need to evolve our collaboration technologies and build in a level of adaptability.
This flexibility will enable ongoing evolution in a future that is unclear. There are some common themes about the lessons learned and future goals, such as enabling meeting equity, that we must deliver.
The Proliferation of Web-based Conferencing Solutions is Here to Stay
Applications like Zoom, WebEx by Cisco, Microsoft Teams, etc., enabled many of your teams to maintain a rather unexpected level of productivity on a grand scale. Any organizational or individual resistance to these solutions came crashing down quickly and out of necessity in most cases.
But those meeting solutions are not perfect. For example, there will always be challenges around network bandwidth, security issues, and meeting equity to address.
Even as some organizations plan to return to their physical office spaces, it will be part of our next normal to have hybrid meetings. Some portion of attendees will be remote, and others will be in some sort of meeting room or huddle space.
How to Enable Meeting Equity
The challenge for AV technologists is to figure out how to make these collaboration experiences more consistent and equitable for all. We now know that our pre-pandemic selves tolerated a sub-par experience for our remote conferencing participants.
For instance, many side-bar conversations by those in the physical room were never heard by remote attendees. In the spirit of innovation, someone might spontaneously share a piece of content in the room, telling those on the remote end of the call, “we’ll send it to you later.”
Going forward, we need to be better about ensuring that everyone in the room (both physical and virtual) are seen and heard as equal participants. For this reason, organizations are installing larger, high-definition displays so that the facial expressions of remote participants can be experienced as though they are in the room.
In addition, devices such as windowing processors are being used to incorporate multiple content streams into the meeting experience. Microphone technology is more important than ever too. Specialized boundary layer microphones have configurable coverage patterns and intelligently-tuned acoustics.
These features reduce background noise and ensure speech intelligibility of everyone in the physical room, regardless of their natural voice pitch or where they are seated.
Empowering Remote Participants
For the remote user, the standard laptop microphone will simply not cut it. A professional-quality USB microphone offers multiple coverage pattern options, so off-site team members can be heard clearly while reducing background noise. With these audio solutions, you can even have two or more participants on the remote end sharing a microphone.
Also, if the remote participant is in a “multi-function” home workspace, a pair of USB or Bluetooth-enabled noise-canceling headphones will allow them to isolate their session from whatever their spouse or child may be doing in the background.
AKG Microphone and Headsets for Hybrid Meeting Rooms and Classrooms
AKG and AVI-SPL work together to deliver solutions that ensure quality sound. Whether it is a professor instructing a lecture hall full of students, business colleagues collaborating via audio-conference, or an artist creating music or other content to share with the world, AVI-SPL and AKG help make sure everyone is heard.
The Role of the Office in “Going to Work”
When teams return to work, whether in the office or from a remote location, the meeting experience should be seamless. Collaboration tools must be easy to use and maintain. Since all rooms must be video-enabled, affordability is a key component as well. With that in mind, purpose-built AV systems with low complexity and manageable costs are essential to hybrid workplace success.
Options like the AMX Precis line of matrix switchers help manage disparate technologies by ensuring they work reliably and cohesively while allowing users to focus on communication rather than the technology tool they are using.
Hybrid Learning Solutions on Campus and at Home
To enable a positive hybrid learning experience for teachers and students, everyone must be seen and heard whether they are in the room or working remotely. Instructors also need easy-to-use solutions to manage and share content from multiple sources like AMX Precis switchers. Additionally, AMX SVSI networked AV encoders and decoders deliver live streaming video content with vivid color and low latency.
AMX N2300 & N2400 Stunning 4K over Standard Gigabit Networks
For students attending virtual classes from home, AKG ARA microphones and headphones can help them be heard and focus on the material being presented.
Upgrade Your Hybrid Meeting Rooms and Classrooms Today
AVI-SPL partners with innovative visual collaboration technology manufacturers like AMX and AKG to give you access to the most advanced, secure, and effective sound, control, collaboration, and lighting solutions.
Contact us today to help ensure your collaboration and classroom AV technology delivers a positive user experience that also supports meeting equity.