All photos courtesy of Pellissippi State Community College

Extron Presentation Switchers Keep Classroom AV Simple at Pellissippi State's Bill Haslam Center for Math and Science

After two to three minutes of familiarization with the AV system, instructors say ‘Wow, that's easy!’ The systems are now in daily use. I measure success by the total lack of calls for assistance. That says it all.

Scott Bell, Coordinator of Audiovisual Services at Pellissippi State Community College

Pellissippi State Community College – PSCC – is a public community college located in the Knoxville, Tennessee suburb of Hardin Valley. Since its founding in 1974, PSCC has expanded the teaching of technology, the use of technology in instruction, and the transfer of technology to local business and industry in support of regional economic development. It is the largest community college in Tennessee, with 8,835 students pursuing career-path associate degrees, associate degrees for transfer, certificates, and continuing education enrichment classes.

Challenges

To meet increased demand for classrooms and lab spaces, the Bill Haslam Center for Math and Science opened its doors to students for the Fall 2021 semester following two years of construction. An investment of $22M, the new 82,000-square-foot building houses 18 classrooms, six computer labs, and nine science labs, as well as a teacher education center. In keeping with the goal of incorporating state-of-the-art technology into its teaching pedagogy, PSCC equipped all of these spaces with AV systems that allow instructors to effortlessly incorporate multimedia into their lessons.

Design Solution

For Scott Bell, Coordinator of Audiovisual Services at PSCC, simplicity was the key to success when it came to equipping the Math and Science Center with versatile, approachable AV systems on a budget. In 10 days, Bell and AV staff associate Steve Moore installed 33 identical AV systems built around Extron IN1606 Scaling Presentation Switchers and MPA 601 60-watt amplifiers.

Manual Control Requires No Programming,
AV Operation is Intuitive for Instructors

All rooms have the same AV system. The design includes a laser projector with built-in interactive annotation and touchscreen capability using fingers or electronic styluses. Annotations made on the projected images can be saved as class notes.

The instructor desk houses a PC, a document camera, and wired HDMI and VGA connection points for a guest laptop. The document camera can swivel to provide images of the instructor or the whiteboard. The document camera outputs HDMI and USB, allowing it to supply images to the projector and the PC simultaneously. Zoom and Teams software installed on the PC support distance learning.

The instructor selects between AV content from the PC, the guest laptop, or the document camera by simply pressing clearly labeled buttons on the front panel of the IN1606 switcher. Adjusting the sound level is easy and intuitive using the volume control knob on the front panel of the IN1606. The IN1606 audio output is connected to an MPA 601 amplifier which drives the ceiling speakers.

Results

Sometimes, less is more. For PSCC, this simple classroom AV system, designed and installed by the school’s own technical staff, is all that’s needed for effective teaching. Built around a single Extron presentation switcher, seamlessly integrated with an Extron amplifier and a very capable projector, the cost of the AV system fit within the available budget. The systems were commissioned in time for the return of students and faculty to campus for the Fall 2021 semester. Scott Bell says that after he provided instructors with two to three minutes of familiarization with the AV system, they said “Wow, that’s easy!” The systems are now in daily use. Bell measures success by the total lack of calls for assistance he’s received for maintenance or operation. He notes, “that says it all.”

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