Osaka University embraces hybrid teaching and learning

November 30, 2023

Graduate School of Engineering Science offers all students a high-quality learning experience, either online or in person, while easing the load on busy lecturers.

How we helped
The Challenge
  • University faculty needed to embrace ‘hyflex’ teaching model in response to Covid-19 pandemic
  • Budget-priced web cameras offered poor picture quality
  • Setting up and operating equipment was time-consuming for teaching staff
The Solution
  • SRG-X120 and SRG-300H remotely operated PTZ cameras
  • REA-C1000 Video Edge Analytics Appliance
  • BRAVIA BZ35F 49-inch 4K professional displays
  • VPL-FHZ65/VPL-FWZ65 laser projectors 
The Outcome
  • High image quality of online lectures has increased student satisfaction and engagement
  • Burden on teaching staff of preparing for lectures has been reduced
  • Easy one-person set-up and operation of AV equipment by lecturers during lectures

We are very satisfied with the system we have installed. We initially started with three classrooms and increased the number of classrooms where the system was installed, using it as the de facto standard.

Professor Akira Sekiyama
School/Graduate School of Engineering Science in Osaka University

Evolving teaching models

During the global Covid-19 pandemic, teaching staff at School/Graduate School of Engineering Science in Osaka University were forced to move classes online. From mid-2020 the university started to consider the reintroduction of in person classes. However, a limited number of lecture rooms and accompanying admission restrictions meant that it was not feasible to provide in-person lectures for all students. The university thus needed to implement a ‘hyflex’ (hybrid/flexible) teaching and learning model, offering students the same quality of learning experience whether they attended classes in person or remotely online.

A classroom with three screens
A university lecturer delivering a lecture

Challenges faced by educators

Faculty staff had expressed dissatisfaction with earlier experiences of online teaching using poorly specified webcams. Lecturers were also unhappy with the pressures of setting up equipment at the start of each lecture, with insufficient time between teaching sessions to ensure that everything was working correctly.

The faculty’s chosen technology solution demanded permanently installed equipment that required minimal set-up by staff. Just as important was the requirement to accommodate lecturers’ different teaching styles, such as staff who preferred to present slides from a PC or those who favour writing on a blackboard or a whiteboard.

Always giving students a clear view

Robotic PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) cameras are permanently installed on the lecture theatre ceilings at School/Graduate School of Engineering Science in Osaka University. Sony’s innovative Edge Analytics Appliance uses AI to automatically track lecturers as they move freely around the room, ensuring they’re always clearly framed without an operator to adjust the camera’s movements. Lecturers who prefer writing on a whiteboard or a blackboard are also catered for. The camera’s preset position function allows easy switching between multiple camera angles using a remote control, so students can always see clearly what’s being written. The PTZ cameras’ excellent image quality and colour reproduction ensure that different colours of chalk – including white and yellow – can be clearly distinguished by online viewers.

In online classes, it is also important for lecturers to know what students are seeing on their own screens. A BRAVIA professional display acts as a monitor for teaching staff to check camera images that are being streamed. A further BRAVIA display shows what’s on the lecturer’s PC, allowing them to see remotely connected students.

A ptz camera and a projector attached to a ceiling
Remote control panel

Intuitive operation for teaching staff

Lecture preparation is quicker, easier and less stressful for teaching staff at Osaka University, who no longer have to spend time setting up and controlling cameras during each class. Excellent video quality has also contributed to improved student engagement.

The simplicity of the system has also found favour with teaching staff, who are able to operate the intuitive system ‘solo’ during lectures without needing additional help.