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Northern Arizona University

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INTRODUCTION

Home to more than 31,000 students, Northern Arizona University (NAU) provides a student-centered experience through distinguished programs led by committed professors. The university’s main campus is located in Flagstaff, Arizona, with an additional 19 satellite community campuses statewide. As a public research institution, NAU is committed to developing solutions to challenges while driving innovation in a supportive, inclusive, and diverse environment. 

THE CHALLENGE

The classroom AV technology deployed throughout the academic buildings was highly inconsistent. Each department had its own platform, resulting in different operational, infrastructure, and support requirements. Faculty and students who moved between buildings had a difficult time learning how to use the different classroom technologies, resulting in wasted class time. Compounding the issue was the lack of a centralized IT department for the campus.

THE SOLUTION

The Classroom Support Team, responsible for managing the technology on the main campus, led an initiative to create a standardized, simplified AV solution for all classrooms on the main campus and all satellite community campuses state-wide. This would also improve the quality and expediency of support provided to faculty. Additionally, the team wanted to implement network AV technology in select large spaces, plus try it out in conference rooms around campus.

THE TECHNOLOGY

During the project’s early planning stage, the team knew that Crestron solutions were already the most utilized across campus. After finding success with Crestron Fusion® management software, the university wanted to expand its Crestron footprint with more AV technology. "Our College of Engineering, Forestry, and Natural Sciences already had Crestron Fusion set up," says Remington. "We decided to piggyback off of that."

The team established a new AV technology standard for all NAU classrooms based on Crestron technology. This included: powerful DigitalMedia™ DMPS3 Series all-in-one presentation systems; DM® receivers / room controllers; AirMedia® presentation gateways for wireless presentation from laptops and tablets; 7" TSW touch screens for room control; FlipTop™ in-table connectivity and cable management solutions; and Saros® in-ceiling speakers. NAU also deployed DM matrix switchers in collaborative spaces where three or more displays are present. Crestron Fusion software allows the team to centrally monitor and manage it all from a web-based dashboard. They receive alerts in the event of technical issues, enabling them to resolve them remotely without having to dispatch staff and, thereby, minimize disruption of class time. 

Finally, DM NVX™ network AV technology was utilized in the Cline Library Assembly Hall, the school’s largest classroom, seating 400 students, as well as in some simple conference rooms around campus. DM NVX delivers flawless 4K video over existing 1Gb networks, with no latency.

The Crestron A+ Educational Partner Program also played a key role in the university’s decision to standardize on Crestron. The program is designed to support the needs of the academic community by facilitating learning with the latest classroom technology. Colleges and universities receive special pricing on equipment, free travel for training, and system design assistance, among other benefits. Members of the Classroom Support Team found the Crestron training especially helpful and, in turn, passed along their new knowledge to the rest of the team. 

RESULTS

A total of 177 mediated (tech-enhanced) classrooms are now fully outfitted to the established Crestron standard, providing a simple, consistent user experience in each. The faculty now has the tools they need to start their lectures on time every time, with pristine video quality, and without disruption or confusion. Students enjoy the cutting-edge learning tools, particularly the ability to present wirelessly. It’s a lesson in how standardization can optimize education. 

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