The prestigious Comillas University, with over 15,000 students and 2,000 lecturers teaching 120 different subjects in Spain, has opted for Sony solutions to offer its students the same quality learning and assessment experience in both face-to-face and virtual settings.
Luis Francisco Blanco, CIO of Comillas University, explains: “Following the COVID-19 crisis and seeing that we would need to continue teaching our students from home, we started to plan possible future scenarios back in May. We got in touch with various providers that could offer solutions to meet our needs. When we saw the possibilities afforded by Sony solutions, we didn’t think twice. We wanted to offer an experience that was as close as possible to physically being in class and, with Sony, we have achieved that. Comillas University has developed a system called simultaneous bimodality which consists of half virtual and half physical contact with the students to make sure they all receive the optimal experience from us regardless of where they are.”
Although Comillas University already had some ways of streaming classes online, the change in circumstances meant that learning that was previously totally face-to-face had to become 100% virtual, during some of the toughest months of confinement, with the university’s needs changing as a result. As such, and with the aim of being able to offer a learning experience of identical quality to those students at the university itself and those attending from home, they decided to upgrade their equipment. There was already some equipment in place, but not enough to meet the university’s needs. They required cameras and microphones that offered the closest experience possible to physically being in class. “We wanted cameras with a large zoom range to allow a view of the entire class as well as more focused shots with easy preset adjustments using the remote control. We wanted it to be simple for lecturers while also making the student experience as similar as possible to being in the classroom,” says Blanco.
The University therefore decided to fit out its 228 classrooms for this bimodal set-up with Sony SRG cameras and Sony MAS-A100 hands-free beamforming microphones. The Sony SRG cameras have six automatic settings that adjust the distance and frame using infrared, with a Full HD image and remote control, allowing lecturers to easily adjust to the best framing and picture quality. The microphones capture the voices of lecturers and students in the class in a way that a portable microphone or body microphone can’t. They also avoid potentially spreading germs as users don’t have direct contact with them. These microphones enable greater mobility and enhanced audience participation. They also have digital signal processing (DSP) and unique algorithms that extract speech while suppressing unwanted feedback and noise.
“At Sony we work closely with our customers to understand their needs and provide the most suitable solutions for them. With Comillas University, we wanted to give the students and lecturers the best possible experience, both in their classes and in their assessments,” says Maxime Lemoine, Segment & Trade Marketing Manager at Sony.
Since 7th September, Comillas University has given, on average, over 900 hours of classes to more than 6,000 students a day using this new system.