The University of the Incarnate Word, Texas’ largest Catholic university, is no stranger to innovation.
As the first institution to offer higher education for women in central and south Texas, UIW is known for pioneering new programs and prioritizing every student’s progress.
Now, since 2020’s nation-wide shift in education environments, UIW has again led the charge by instituting a revolutionary hybrid academic approach. Cardinal Flex, the university’s hybrid program, features both synchronous and asynchronous classes and grants students an equally interactive educational experience, whether in-person or remote.
Hybrid Program Creates Need For Audio Solution
Prior to officially launching this program, some variations of a hybrid model existed throughout campus. However, the experience fell short of UIW’s standards.
“We were doing it, but it wasn’t the quality we needed it to be,” explains Dr. Denise Staudt, Dean of Education at University of the Incarnate Word. “We brought in a consultant for the faculty to help redesign their courses to perform well in a hybrid model.”
In addition to updating the course material to prepare for Cardinal Flex, the university faculty also advocated strongly for a major AV technology upgrade, knowing the upgrade would be necessary for a successful roll out. Though classrooms were already outfitted with webcams for faculty, there was an unstandardized approach to audio: some classrooms had mics hanging from the ceiling, while others used tabletop microphones.
“There was always an issue with audio,” said Kathleen Bottaro, Assistant Provost, Office of Teaching, Learning and Technology at UIW. “Though remote students could usually see and hear the faculty members, they couldn’t see or hear their classmates.”
To resolve these issues, the UIW staff consulted their long-trusted integrators, AVSANT of Richardson, TX. They suggested installing Yamaha’s RM-CG Ceiling Microphone in classrooms and conference rooms; and the UIW staff gave it a try.
Soon after, success followed.
RM-CG Provides Perfect Fit For Hybrid Classroom
“What do you want me to say? The mics just work. We can hear,” said one HR professional from UIW when asked for feedback about the RM-CG’s audio quality.
In audio, no news is good news. When audio is working as it should, it goes unnoticed; and students and faculty members are free to focus on what’s most important: education.
“The quality of the microphones allows me to offer the flexibility of hybrid options without concern for audio quality,” said Dr. Norman St. Clair, the Director of Graduate and Doctoral Studies at UIW. “I can confidently offer these options, and students appreciate the reliability and flexibility. Based on student feedback, it’s been a smooth experience without any disruptions when interacting with each other.”
Students aren’t the only ones pleased with the RM-CG’s audio quality.
“The faculty have quickly gotten on board, and they are pushing it,” said Dr. Staudt. “We’re not having to urge the faculty to use them.”
Media Services Manager, Rodney Evans, puts it this way: “We desired a microphone solution that would capture speech clearly in large spaces with minimal equipment. We required a highly reliable microphone with a Dante interface that married effortlessly with our AV control systems. The Yamaha RM-CG Ceiling Array microphone afforded that solution with a concealable and aesthetically pleasing look to our learning spaces.”
Ease of Use and Install Leads to Campus-Wide Installations
In fact, positive feedback from faculty has led to the multiplication of installations across campus. Yamaha’s RM-CG Dante-enabled ceiling microphones have now been installed in several classrooms and conference rooms throughout the university. Each classroom seats up to 25 people, while conference rooms hold around 15 people.
Multiple installations are no match for AVSANT, one of the leading AV integrators in Texas.
“We have appreciated the opportunity to work for many years with the great team at UIW led by UIW’s CIO, Neil Schroeder and Kathleen Bottaro, and we know that we must perform 100% with our best efforts on every project,” said Rob Tellone, President of AVSANT. “Using Yamaha’s ADECIA RM-CG ceiling microphone allows us to do that and provide 100% quality for their classroom and conference room audio.”
David Hoyle, VP Account Management at AVSANT, also added, “The ease of installation of the Dante-enabled ADECIA solution with the complete Ethernet connectivity and automatic audio tuning really helped simplify my team’s execution of the project installations on campus at UIW.
We know that with Yamaha quality, every product will be installed and operated without failure the first time, and every time. The Yamaha ADECIA RM-CG is now our ‘go-to’ solution for applications requiring ceiling grid microphones.”
Once class begins at UIW, faculty can initiate the virtual classroom via either an in-room laptop, or by using their own device. Faculty members are also working with interactive displays and cameras – so the RM-CG’s simplicity and functionality is a welcome addition to the room.
“Yamaha’s mics have been the least problematic piece of the whole puzzle,” said Kathleen Bottaro. “You don’t have to learn how to use the mics. You have to learn how to use the cameras, but there’s no learning curve on the mics.”
Even so, training on updated technology was made available over the summer, so faculty could get accustomed to using the new technology before the first day of school. If that isn’t enough, Kathleen’s team stood outside classroom doors on the first day of school ready to provide IT support if needed, fully committed to the success of their faculty and students.
“We have not had any trouble in the rooms,” said Dr. Denise Staudt. “The faculty is very pleased with the equipment and the sound. It’s allowing us to go even further than we thought we could.”
Yamaha’s RM-CG Dante-enabled ceiling microphone, certified for Zoom and Microsoft Teams, contains four dynamic beams for optimal room coverage and is packed with Yamaha’s signature audio technologies, such as Human Voice Activity Detection, Auto Gain Control, Dereverberation, and Noise Cancellation.
For more information on the RM-CG, click here.