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Hybrid classroom technology for flexible, forward-thinking learning experiences at King’s College

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Hybrid classroom technology for flexible, forward-thinking learning experiences at King’s College
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King's College in Pennsylvania pursues excellence in teaching and learning through a rigorous core curriculum with nationally accredited professional programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. In 2020, they implemented a Barco weConnect hybrid classroom that enables high quality, flexible, digitalized and student-centered learning experiences for their students.

King’s College in Wilkes-Barre (PA) enrolls full-time, part-time and graduate students from over 17 states and 14 different countries. Founded in 1946 by the Congregation of Holy Cross Priests and Brothers from the University of Notre Dame, it has been dedicated to transforming both the minds and hearts of its students through the College's commitment to academic excellence, creative pedagogy, engaged mentorship, co-curricular participation, and a collaborative spirit.

Innovation as a core value, in theory and in practice

The William G. McGowan School of Business is part of that commitment. Established in 1990, the AACSB International Accredited School of Business offers innovation in program development and a forward-thinking approach using cutting-edge technology. 

Innovation as a core value is what helps the School remain competitive, differentiate itself and attract students in a fast-paced world and a continuously evolving market. Classroom innovation began in the early 2000s and culminated in 2020 with an ultra-modern hybrid classroom solution to fit the new digital era, implemented by Barco and technology partner Vistacom.

Seamless, unified learning experiences in the hybrid classroom

King’s College implemented a weConnect hybrid virtual classroom that welcomes 48 virtual students displayed by a Barco UniSee high-definition LCD video wall in the physical classroom. A camera is strategically placed in the center of the video wall, capturing the instructor and the 24 onsite students split into 4 pods.

This way, remote students and onsite participants can see each other and enjoy a shared, common experience, no matter their location. The setup gives online students in particular the feeling of being in the physical classroom together with their peers.

It is also convenient for instructors, who do not have to switch between online and offline audiences and can see all students, in life size, face-to-face or on screen. ´It’s as if every student is in the front row of the classroom. ´ said Raymond Pryor (Managing Director of User Services, King’s College).

In-depth collaboration and interaction regardless of location

In addition to the large video wall displaying remote participants, there is also a screen installed in each pod. This way, remote and onsite participants are perfectly able to engage in in-depth discussion and quality group work.

The hybrid classroom technology creates a real-time collaborative environment that’s designed for sharing ideas, while active participation is encouraged with polls and quizzes. Pryor states: 'Students can raise their hands or participate in real-time polling as if they’re in a face-to-face classroom.

Tara Shawver (Chair, Kearney and Company Department of Accounting) adds 'As a professor, the technology that's most important to me is one that increases student interest in my course. So using the collaboration modes in the classroom allows my students to talk out problems. It builds teambuilding, critical thinking. It allows us to explore topics more deeply.

Flexible setup and delivery for optimal results and high learner satisfaction, no matter the conditions

In a time of continually shifting travel policies, limited room capacity due to mandatory distancing or classes going fully online because of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, flexibility is essential.

Thankfully, weConnect enables King’s College to lead not only hybrid sessions with participants onsite and online but also fully virtual or fully in-person experiences. The great thing is, four or five faculty members are using the room and they’re all using it a little differently,´ Pryor says. ´They have the flexibility to be creative and deliver their content in a unique way to the students.

And what are the students saying? They are just as content with the solution. Hannah Marvin, (Accounting & Finance major) shares her experience: ´It was really seamless when we went virtual with this room because you didn't miss a beat. You saw your professor. You saw your PowerPoints and you saw everybody else and then the breakout rooms on top of it. You really had a normal class setting and then when we jumped back into going in-class, it was like nothing changed.