As classroom technology refreshes go, there are yawners and there are gamechangers. Gateway Technical College (GTC) chose Option B when they implemented Wolfvision Cynap presentation solution into 22 classrooms this year.
Gone are the old Frankensteined hodgepodges of in-wall controllers, presentation switchers, wireless receivers, distribution amplifiers, audio mixers, and then even more controls for dropping projection screens out of the classroom’s ceiling.
“It was a little bit too complicated in the sense that it was complicated from a user-support side, and also from our technology infrastructure side for the guys who put it in and maintain it,” says Jeffrey Robshaw, GTC’s Chief Information Officer and VP for Learning Innovation.
When members of the GTC IT team saw the Cynap system at the 2018 Brainstorm conference they returned to campus and worked with the school’s decision-makers to adopt the solution. “The response during that demonstration — it was amazing,” says Eric Doherty, IT Director of User Experience at GTC.
“Seeing something that was simpler was one of the draws. We have had a lot of issues with the (old) rooms.
With Wolfvision… it’s an HDMI cable to our TV in the classroom.” The school rolled out the Wolfvision Cynap solutions — complete with BYOD screen sharing; digital whiteboarding; HD recording; and a 4K document camera, among other offered features — in five pilot classrooms.
That went so well that they expanded into 17 more classrooms within the next year.
“Those installations were so simple that the IT team did it themselves, without the help of outside integrators”, says Robshaw. “It’s been a great deployment,” Robshaw says.
“As a technology person, you’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop on a new type of deployment to see how it’s received.” So far, the feedback has been off-the-charts positive, including the best type of feedback when implementing classroom solutions — silence.
“Outside of my staff being on the floor for the first day of classes, we haven’t heard anything regarding support, regarding ‘help me do this,’” Doherty says. “It’s just been very intuitive for them.”
Now, teachers who never used the old classrooms’ document cameras can use the Cynap’s digital whiteboard, if they choose.
Plus, whatever presentation option they pick, they can also take snapshots and make annotations over their content that they can then add back into their online class.
Though Gateway has traditionally used other products for wireless presentation in the classroom, they’ve also begun to leverage their Cynap systems for wireless presentation.
“The Wolfvision Cynap handles video in such a better way that it was really no contest,” Robshaw says.
Meanwhile, the functions that enhance teaching are all made possible by an intuitive setup that is easy for instructors who aren’t tech savvy to use — if they can turn on their TV with a remote at home, they can use this system, Doherty says.
“If you’re fighting with troubleshooting the basic operation of a unit all the time, you’re never going to get people to use it at a very high level, because they’ll be happy if it turns on and works,” Robshaw says.
And that ease of use takes the load off the IT support staff, freeing them up to help faculty with other issues in other classrooms, or to provide forward-looking training, not just troubleshooting.
The systems are so simple to install that if maintenance does pop up, the singular systems can be swapped out for replacement in minutes Upgrades are easy, too, says Doherty.
The school standardizes its firmware each semester, rolling out updates in between semesters by pushing them out to the various IP addresses. But the Cynaps don’t require new configuration unless they want to unlock a new Wolfvision Cynap feature.
“It takes the configuration that’s on the device and ports it over to the new version, so it’s not even a reprogramming like we would have to do with some of our old equipment,” Doherty says.
The Cynap users in these 22 classrooms are already reaping the benefits, and up next, says Doherty, is a remodeling of another building, which will be fitted throughout with Cynap systems in all of its classrooms and conference rooms.
And as the Cynap integration rolls out through the rest of GTC, so does an enhanced appreciation of technological simplicity. “It really has changed our approach from potentially overly complex to a feature-rich system that is easy to deploy and loved by faculty.” Robshaw says. “And…it streamlines a lot of our operations.”