A Peek Inside SC’s Enhanced Learning Center

At the University of South Carolina, remote monitoring, control, and AV touchpanels are part of the curriculum.

A Peek Inside SC’s Enhanced Learning Center
The University of South Carolina's College of Business and Economics has 12 remote-controlled classrooms, along with audio processors, amplifiers and lectern-mounted touchpanels.
A Peek Inside SC’s Enhanced Learning Center
The University of South Carolina's College of Business and Economics has 12 remote-controlled classrooms, along with audio processors, amplifiers and lectern-mounted touchpanels.

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A Peek Inside SC’s Enhanced Learning Center

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The University of South Carolina (USC) Upstate Campus built its new 60,000-square-foot, $30 million College of Business and Economics – dubbed “The George” Building – in the heart of downtown Spartanburg, several miles from the main campus.

The USC Upstate Information Technologies and Media Services departments currently maintain 84 technology-enhanced classrooms and six distance learning classrooms. Depending on room size and requirements, the school’s standards for technology-enhanced classrooms include the Crestron Multimedia Presentation Systems (MPS) integrated control system, multimedia switcher, audio processor and amplifier; lectern-mounted TPS-6L touchpanels, and QuickMedia (QM) 3-channel multimedia audio amplifiers.

Location Initiates Need for Remote Monitoring/Control
USC’s AV systems design technician Billy Geier was put in charge of “The George” project, in which a major challenge was the remote location of the building. Support from a distance was a concern. Standardization of equipment was a priority, to maintain ease of use and upkeep.

Crestron RoomView Server Edition provides local and remote monitoring and control. Capabilities include signal sensing, to determine whether connected devices are on or off, plus touchpanel monitoring for inactivity. Automatic system shutdown will occur in any room after 90 minutes of inactivity. At system startup, volume is ramped to 40 percent within five seconds, and at system shutdown, volume is ramped to zero. At 10:00 p.m. daily, all rooms automatically shut down. Additionally, lamp hours and projector temperature are continuously tracked.

Crestron provides control of source selection, volume control, zoned lighting control and system power on/off in 12 classrooms in The George. Five basic classrooms are Crestron-equipped with MPS-200s. Ceiling-mounted widescreen video projectors feed electric 16:10 123-inch wall-mounted front projection screens. One of these rooms also controls electric dual roller window shades, which deliver both light defusing and room darkening. Most rooms also include a SMART Podium that supplies computer video and annotation capabilities at the lectern.

One regular classroom and a stock trading room are similarly Crestron-equipped, with added QuickMedia distribution amplifiers and receivers that manage and distribute the output of PCs, laptops, document cameras and DVD players to two 65-inch LCD screens. Because Crestron designs its products to work together seamlessly, it was easy for Geier to modify the classroom standards to suit individual room requirements.

450-foot Signal Distribution
QuickMedia transport allows distribution of WUXGA signals up to 450 feet over a single QM cable, greatly simplifying installation when the AV equipment room was 100 feet or more away from a given classroom.

One tiered classroom uses a Crestron MP2E control system to manage all devices, including two widescreen projectors and wall-mounted front projection screens and motorized shades; another tiered classroom features the MPS-200 and two 65-inch LCD monitors.

The distance learning (DL) classroom system is driven by a Crestron PRO2 professional dual bus control system, and the lectern-mounted touchpanel is a TPS-15. The room has a ceiling-mounted widescreen video projector and electric 16:10 123-inch wall-mounted front projection screen, as well as two 46-inch LCD monitors mounted in back of the classroom.

Cameras Incorporated in Front and Rear
An instructor camera is in the back of the room, pointing towards the lectern. A student camera is located in the front, and is focused on a wide angle of the room when no student is talking.

The DL room has desk-mounted microphones with pushbutton switches, so that when a student presses the PTT (push-to-talk) button, the camera pans and zooms to the student’s location. System functionality is the same as in the classrooms, with the addition of full control of a Tandberg Codec plus remote dialing via IP and PBX (Private Branch Exchange telephone switch) access to up to five sites; audio conferencing; PiP (Picture in Picture) capabilities and selectable dual video streams.

The George also has two conference rooms, both with 65-inch LCD monitors. One is equipped with a Crestron QuickMedia FlipTop Media Center; Room Media Controller and Receiver; 3x1 Mini-Switcher and Wall Plate Media Center to manage and distribute source output. The other utilizes a Crestron iMedia Wall Plate Computer and Video Center, iMedia FlipTop Computer & Video Center, and iMedia Receiver. iMedia is a simple and affordable multimedia presentation control solution for small conference rooms and training rooms.

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