When Rutgers University‘s Newark and Camden Law Schools began considering a proposed merger into one, 1,100-plus student entity encompassing both locations, they began exploring ways to join some of the classes.
The Newark campus is in the northeast side of the state, ten miles from Manhattan; the Camden campus is on the other side of the Delaware River from Philadelphia, nearly 100 miles away.
As a result, the university looked at audio-video technology as a solution.
“To harness the strengths of our two faculties, we needed a way to integrate the curricula of the two law schools,” says Dean John Oberdiek, Acting Dean, Rutgers School of Law, Camden. “Specifically, for classes and activities where you would look to foster discussion among professors and students. It was important that classes were as good and real as classes on their home campus with a live professor so there was no incentive to avoid classes at the other location.”
“We already had traditional distance learning equipment, and still have it,” notes Tom Ryan, Director of Information Technology at Rutgers. “The question was, ‘What can we do to bring the students together, to collaborate and meet?’ It’s not just a merging of our classes, but also the schools, the law clinics, the law journals, etc. The question was how to enable collaboration that camera-on-lecturer distance learning doesn’t provide.”
After reviewing responses by vendors and integrators plus other research, Rutgers selected an “immersive telepresence” solution based around Polycom’s RealPresence Immersive RPX 428, through BT Americas, with BT also providing project management, installation, integration, support and other services.
The Polycom RPX is a fully integrated, all-inclusive, freestanding, modular environment. Tech gear in the RPX 428 includes (for each room):
• Four, four-foot x 42-inch-high HiDef DLPA Projection screens, totaling 16 feet x 42 inches
• 3 CCD High Definition video cameras
• ceiling microphone arrays
• 20, 19-inch displays embedded in the multipurpose conference table (for viewing presentations and other content).