Yamaguchi University enhances hybrid teaching for veterinary students

Joint Faculty of Veterinary Medicine upgrades ‘hyflex’ learning solution for students, combining online and in-person teaching and learning.

How we helped
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The Challenge
  • Joint Faculty of Veterinary Medicine needed to update its original ‘hyflex’ teaching system
  • Requirement for high quality images and audio to support and enhance students’ engagement and improve their concentration during lectures
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The Solution
  • PTZ and fixed cameras installed at different angles capture lecturers and the board
  • Easy control of PTZ camera via intuitive touch-panel
  • Edge Analytics Appliance for highly effective educational content in the future
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The Outcome
  • High video quality of remote cameras enhances quality of teaching to veterinary students studying online
  • Flexible solution accommodates a range of lecturers’ different teaching styles

The Sony remote camera we have installed produces very high quality images. This helps students in the classroom and remotely connected students feel a sense of unity, and encourage them to focus on the class.

Professor Koichi Sato
Joint Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Yamaguchi University

Connecting staff and students at sites 400km/250 miles apart

Rising demand for veterinarians educated to high international standards – coupled with a limited number of faculty members – led Yamaguchi University in 2012 to establish a Joint Faculty of Veterinary Medicine with Kagoshima University. Recognising the time and cost spent by faculty members traveling between the two sites 400km apart, the university introduced a ‘hyflex’ (hybrid/flexible) environment, offering remote teaching for remote students as well those attending lectures in person.

As the system was deployed, however, it soon became apparent that students found it difficult to concentrate on the lecture being taught if video and audio quality were not sufficiently clear. In particular, the poor video resolution and audio quality of recorded classes discouraged students’ motivation. Through classes given in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, it became clear that improvements to the existing remote learning system were necessary.

A classroom with two screens and a SONY PTZ camera
A PTZ camera and two computer screens on a wall

A clearer view for every learner

The upgraded solution permits multiple connections with existing remote lecture systems. This allows students to participate online from any location. A remotely controlled PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) camera in the classroom captures video of the lecturer as they teach, while a further fixed camera provides an overhead view of the board. An intuitive touch-panel makes operation of the cameras easy, even for members of staff who are not familiar with its operation. The flexible system adapts readily to accommodate various teaching styles, such as lecturers who prefer to write on the board or rely on projected presentations.

To convey a greater sense of realism in practical training classes that are common to veterinary schools, a wearable camera captures footage from the instructor’s own point of view, leading to greater understanding for students, whether they’re present in the room or attending remotely.

Further support to delivering high quality teaching content is provided by Sony’s AI-powered Edge Analytics Appliance. This will allow creation of a chroma-keyless combined image of the faculty member and their handwriting on the board.

Unifying achievement of students in the classroom and off-campus

“Although it can be difficult to create a sense of realism in online classes, the Sony remote camera we have installed this time produces very high quality images. This helps students in the classroom and remotely connected students feel a sense of unity, and encourage them to focus on the class” notes Professor Koichi Sato. “Although there are a few opinions that are critical of remote and online classes, analysis of student exam results and other data from the last ten years of our operations has shown that the effectiveness of learning is the same whether it is in-person or remotely.”

Looking to the future

“Even with current systems, it is very difficult to remotely convey the practical training with animals that’s so important in veterinary medicine” states Professor Sato. “For example, we would like to see 3D displays of animal organs as if they were real, with cross-sections that can be shown at any angle, and the ability to remotely convey the feeling of touching an animal as if you were examining it with your own hands. I hope that in the near future Sony will come up with more innovative proposals to revolutionise the nature of education.”