When the pandemic universities to shift to a distance learning strategy that quickly morphed into a hybrid approach with students learning from various locations, Mexico’s La Salle University knew the laptops it provided to faculty at the onset of the pandemic would not be enough.
So, the university turned to collaboration technology provider Konftel and deployed over 100 videoconferencing kits to support hybrid learning and to connect professors and students at the university.
La Salle Laguna University, located in the northwest Mexican state of Durango and serving 1,450 higher education students, said that it wanted to be a leader in using technology to deliver high-quality education in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic which eventually led them to utilizing Konftel’s conferencing solutions.
Addressing the Hybrid Experience at La Salle Laguna
Although the university initially supplied professors with laptop computers and web cameras at the start of the pandemic, they soon realized that laptop conferencing wouldn’t be enough as some students returned to campus while others remained at home.
“The laptop computers and cameras worked fine when everyone was at home, but when we decided to bring back half the students at a time, we needed technology that would create a better experience,” explained Luis Arturo Dávila de León, dean of La Salle Laguna. “We wanted something that was easy to use and that allowed remote students to see professors and students in the classroom and interact as if they were in the same place.”
The university revealed that for effective hybrid learning, the solution needed to fit seamlessly with the university’s commitment to exceptional education. According to the university, the conferencing technology had to not only make hybrid learning possible under the circumstances, but also match the learning experience expected by professors, students, and their families before the pandemic.
Determining the Needs of La Salle Laguna
“We needed a service that everyone would be happy with so that all our classes would retain their same high quality,” said Dávila. The university leadership said they turned to local technology integrator Orange Tech AVA and Konftel distribution partner Neocenter SA de CV to identify the best hybrid learning solution.
Orange Tech AVA began testing the Konftel C20Ego to see if it would meet the university’s needs, and determined that it could support the seamless, integrated, easy-to-use classroom experience required by the administration.
According to Kontfel, the C20Ego is an all-in-one solution featuring a Konftel Cam20 4K conference camera, Konftel Ego speakerphone with OmniSound® audio quality, and Konftel OCC Hub for connecting everything to a laptop with a single USB cable.
“Along with La Salle Laguna, we found that having a camera with a remote control, digital zoom, and presets is very useful in classrooms,” said Isaac Sedano, commercial director for Orange Tech AVA. “The speakerphone that comes with the Konftel C20Ego kit has the perfect reach for the classroom size, and teachers really appreciate the unique hub that allows them to easily connect everything to their laptop.”
Installing the Conferencing Solutions
According to the company, the Konftel solution also supported easy, flexible installation, an important factor considering Orange Tech AVA had two months to integrate more than 100 systems. The company stated that they closely mimicked an in-class experience at La Salle Laguna where the Orange Tech AVA technicians hung ceiling mounts in the center of classrooms and installed the C20Ego components, as well as a flat-screen display. This allowed professors to address remote students onscreen who could also see everything taking place in the classroom.
“We took measurements so that the Konftel cameras and speakerphones are at the right height for professors and ran cables up through the mounts, so they aren’t visible,” explained Sedano. Additionally, Orange Tech AVA said they ran acoustic and visual tests to maximize the high-quality sound and video from the Konftel solution for all participants.
According to the company, La Salle Laguna installed 107 Konftel C20Ego videoconferencing kits throughout the campus, controlled and monitored from a central location, and after a week of faculty training, the university was ready for hybrid learning.
“Using the conferencing technology is very comfortable,” remarked Samuel S. Ramírez Cortéz, a professor at the university. “It allows faculty a perfect combination of a virtual space with a physical classroom. It is easy to speak to remote and in-person students at the same time and use the blackboard or in-class computer very naturally.”
Furthermore, the university uses Google Classroom and Google Workspace as its primary online learning and collaboration platform, but Cortéz added that the staff occasionally used Zoom and other services. Konftel stated that their technology is agnostic, thus allowing education institutions to use collaboration platforms of their choice for high-resolution conferences with ultra-clear sound quality.
“Feedback has been very positive,” mentioned Cortéz. “The students at home don’t feel alone; teachers are still able to teach the way they know best; and parents trust the university because the technology proves our commitment to high-level teaching.”
As professors and students began using the Konftel solution, university officials acknowledged that the technology had an even greater impact by helping unite the surrounding community.
Connecting to the Community
The university revealed the solution’s success where they said that not only did enrollment increase, but local associations, business groups, and others also became more engaged with the university due to the collaborative features of the technology. According to the university, some even asked to use the university’s Konftel-enabled spaces for their own virtual meetings.
“We don’t just focus on academics. We play a role in fostering the broader society,” said Ivonne Escalera Leyva, who oversees external relations.
La Salle Laguna added that it has now opened its physical and virtual doors for meetings, exhibitions, workshops, trainings, work meetings, and more. It also has an innovation park to connect students with local companies and collaborate on projects that benefit the region.
“The technology helps keep activities going and maintains connections with the community,” says Leyva. “We want to be in touch with other sectors that need to optimize their resources and adapt to the new reality.”
Dean Dávila credited the university’s adaptability for its success in navigating the pandemic.
“The university continues to reinvent itself and does not remain static,” he said. “If we are going to use new technology, we are going to use it well. That’s why we incorporate technology not only in the educational process, but also in academic monitoring processes, teaching performance, and above all, the time scheduled for the teaching of classes,” concluded Dávila.