Greater Collaborative Teaching at the University of Tennessee
ViewSonic® 70" IFP and Solstice Software
Customer
Profile

The University of Tennessee at Martin provides high-quality undergraduate and graduate educational programs to West Tennessee and beyond. Located in Northwest Tennessee, the University of Tennessee at Martin serves more than 6,700 students representing 42 states and 34 countries. Boasting a graduation rate among the highest in Tennessee for state universities, 95 percent of UT Martin graduates are currently employed or participating in advanced programs.

In my opinion, Solstice coupled with the [ViewSonic] interactive panel is the pinnacle of a collaborative teaching space.

— Alan Franklin,
Technology Support Services Manager

Summary
Challenge
  • Update classroom technology to eliminate the hassles of projection: bulb replacement, ambient light interference and shadows.
  • Deliver a solution with enhanced collaborative capabilities that lets instructors use their preferred interactive software.
Solution
  • The ViewSonic CDE7060T 70’’ Full HD interactive flat panel display with Android OS and integrated PC slot delivered connectivity, clear images and the ability to support existing software.
  • Solstice wireless collaborative software enabled unlimited simultaneous content sharing and manipulation over the network from any faculty or student device.
Result
  • Replacing projectors with the CDE7060T has eliminated bulb maintenance and shadow interference and delivers easily viewable content even in high ambient light conditions.
  • Professors enjoy using the interactive software of their choice while gaining advanced interactive capabilities.
  • The interactive multi-touch display combined with Solstice software enables advanced content collaboration over the LAN with unlimited simultaneous connections and concurrent internet use.
The
Challenge

With learning technology installed in nearly every classroom on campus, the UT Martin IT team has their hands full with upkeep, management and maintenance. Projection installations are particularly troublesome. Along with requiring maintenance time to change out bulbs, ambient light and shadows present challenges to delivering consistently visible content.

"We’ve wrestled with all the things that go with projection technology that can be a hindrance in a classroom environment," said Alan Franklin, Technology Support Services Manager. "Our projectors are mounted on the ceiling, so when instructors walk up to use the interactive whiteboard, they’re walking in front of the projector, which casts a shadow on the whiteboard."

The time came to move away from projection and look for new classroom technology. Franklin and his team began looking at the interactive flat panel (IFP) market as the answer to their persistent issues with projection.

The
Solution

Franklin’s objective was to find a solution that would let the faculty use their preferred interactive software – particularly the Smart software they were accustomed to – while also adding new collaborative capabilities to the learning environment.

After assessing products from several manufacturers, Franklin selected the ViewSonic CDE7060T 70" Full HD interactive flat panel display.

"After looking at numerous interactive touch panels from several manufacturers we selected the ViewSonic 70-inch primarily because of the Android OS with interactive controls, which was far and above what many competitors had to offer," said Franklin. Running a close second in terms of compelling features was the embedded PC module, which Franklin said wasn’t available with any of the other products he looked at.

"There were many positive aspects to the ViewSonic CDE7060T. We put the products side by side and did demo tests and found it superior in many ways," said Franklin. "The clarity of image was very good, and it had a higher refresh rate. It also had multiple inputs – three HDMI, VGA, composite – providing the ability to connect many devices, which we find we really need in a creative learning environment."

The Result

Now in year two of the deployment roadmap, the ViewSonic CDE7060T is installed in classrooms across the campus. According to Franklin, it’s been an ideal replacement for their projector installations.

"The CDE7060T gave us the ability to put just a panel with PC module in a room and it was enough; we didn’t have to do anything extra to equip the instructors," he said. "With this 70-inch IFP, the professors can have the same type of experience they had before, plus the added ability to use the interactive capability – with none of the problems of projection."

The benefits of this new interactive technology have inspired further exploration into how to exploit its advantages, including the addition of 3-D modeling software that lets professors and students display and manipulate lifelike images on screen.

The university is also in the early stages of plans to deploy Solstice collaborative software to maximize the interactive potential of the CDE7060T.

"In my opinion, Solstice coupled with the interactive panel is the pinnacle of a collaborative teaching space," said Franklin, who selected Solstice after assessing several wireless collaborative solutions, all of which had notable disadvantages.

"With the competitors’ product there was always an issue we would run into – the streaming was poor; or it offered only PowerPoint display, not video or audio; or the streaming was good but the number of simultaneous connections was limited to four or six," said Franklin, also noting that many of the other software products prohibited simultaneous use of the Internet.

Solstice, said Franklin, solved all of this.

"With Solstice there’s no limit on connections, and it existed on network so we could use the WiFi card to access the Internet while connecting to Solstice," said Franklin. "And it does a pretty good job of streaming video, too."

In addition, the team liked that the Solstice wireless solution was completely device agnostic, enabling students and instructors to use their preferred personal devices, as well as those provided by the university. What’s more, Franklin noted, Solstice does more than just facilitate content sharing.

"One of the things we really liked with Solstice that we didn’t see with others is the collaborative component. With Solstice you can gather documents from a collaborative audience then split them up, arrange them, work on them. This allows students to engage with each other in an interactive space with the ViewSonic panel as a central focal point the information, and students can interact on it using their own devices."

Solstice (along with the ViewSonic CDE7060T) is scheduled for installation in one of the university’s living-learning communities, an interactive space where students come together to work, and a faculty R & D environment. Feedback, said Franklin, has been highly positive.

Similarly, Franklin said he’s had nothing but positive experiences working with ViewSonic.

"We primarily work through a third party – PCS in Knoxville, but even though we’re not buying directly there’s never been a time I didn’t have a direct line of communication with ViewSonic. They’ve been there to help whenever we’ve had a question, and they’ve been very good about supporting us and doing everything possible to make our rollout successful."

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