Being a home to nearly fifty thousands of students (who are paving their way towards becoming tomorrow’s talented engineers, doctors, artists and other skilled professionals), demands lots of creative thinking and ability to evolve, improve and adapt to drastic changes in order to survive and stay relevant. This is the reason why the USF IT team was on a quest for innovative technological solutions that could provide a better hybrid learning experience even before COVID-19 had started to have any impact on our everyday life.
With the help of cutting edge equipment provided by Sennheiser, they have managed to convert nearly a hundred classes across seventeen buildings into spaces that can provide a flawless hybrid learning experience, both for students and lecturers who attend in-class and virtual lectures. The first and the most significant tool that paved the university’s way towards adaptation to hybrid learning was Sennheiser’s “TeamConnect Ceiling 2” ceiling microphones’ array system (also known as TCC2). These discrete microphones are installed on ceilings and they are able to detect the exact location and position of the speaker automatically (whether the speaker stands, sits or moves around the room) and concentrates on what that person says.
Alongside such tools as TCC2, ZOOM, various types of qr code attendance tracker apps for teachers and cloud-based data storage software make it possible for lecturers and students to communicate effectively both when they are located in a classroom and when they are spread in numerous different locations (even worldwide). These hybrid learning related solutions not only help to create a smoother learning process for those who are not always able to attend a lecture in a classroom, but also solve other universal issues that had not been solved for centuries until now.
The students attendance tracking problem is a great example of an issue that both teachers and students have considered an obstacle for many generations, because it’s a repetitive and annoying process that wastes time whenever a new lesson starts. Not only do teachers dislike this process (due to the fact that some students consider it an opportunity to come a couple of minutes later and other students manage to find loopholes and skip classes altogether without their absence being noticed), but students dislike it too. A dynamic qr code based attendance measuring app makes it possible to track attendance of hundreds of students within less than a minute and it cannot be cheated, due to its advanced features that a human lecturer simply cannot replicate.
Overall, contrary to how things looked as little as 10-15 years ago, the future of hybrid learning looks bright nowadays. All the infrastructures that are needed in order to convert a school, college or university into a part of a hybrid learning-friendly ecosystem already exist and they keep getting better and more competitive all the time. University of South Florida’s quick adaptation (within only 3 weeks from the moment the pandemic started) is a great proof that not even a pandemic can prevent the process of education in the 21st century.