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Delivering World Leading Physical and Online Learning Spaces

Delivering World Leading Physical and Online Learning Spaces

Based in Perth, Western Australia, and with an increasingly global presence, Curtin University is known for an innovative approach to teaching and learning that includes a true commitment to learning space innovation. From lecture capture and live streaming classes with tracking cameras and overhead microphones, to recording practical lessons in simulation labs and real-life patient care clinics, Curtin has installed technology in spaces that allow opportunities for learning in as authentic a way as possible – even when students are not on campus.

Since partnering with Echo360 in 2001, Curtin has seen a steady increase in student use of video as an aid to learning that reached 1.6 million views and 600,000 hours viewed in 2018. While this includes the use of capture technology in traditional lecture theatres, Curtin also has venues equipped with multi-camera installations allowing them to record students involved in active discussion as well as practical demonstrations.

Recording Student Demonstrations for Observation, Self-Reflection and Support

One example is within the Health Sciences Department and Medical School where there are many venues that use multiple cameras to record clinical sessions of students. Students come in throughout the day and evening and practice their techniques with each other as well as with real clients. To record a session, the student simply hits “record” on a PC or MAC equipped with Echo360’s Universal Capture software. There is a microphone and tracking cameras in the ceiling that require no additional set-up. Because everything is so easy to use, the usage is very high. Once the session is finished, the video is available for student, supervisor, or peer review. Students can get immediate feedback on how well they performed the procedure which becomes an invaluable resource for them.

Flexibility for students and lecturers is a critical part of Curtin’s ethos. Using health sciences as an example again, the technology used at Curtin allows lecturers on the main campus to observe and support students while they are working at a clinic 20km away. Echo360 is an important part of that ability to save time and support learning.

Capturing the action in Interactive Learning Spaces

Back on campus, auto-tracking cameras in collaborative teaching spaces follow lecturers and zoom in as they write on the whiteboards.  Audience participation cameras equipped with audio and facial recognition determine who is speaking so that when someone starts to talk, a camera will zoom in to recognize the person speaking.  A further example is Curtin Law School which houses a simulated courtroom for moot courts and mock trials where students can debate topics in front of judges and a courtroom audience just as they would in a real court of law.  These cameras solve the problem of capturing all of the action from people facing in multiple directions such as from the judicial bench, at a lectern, from the defendant’s dock, or from other locations within the courtroom including the audience.

Moving Beyond Live Streaming: Making Online Learning as Engaging as the Physical Classroom

Expanding yet again this year, Curtin is using Echo360’s live webcasting and is streaming almost a third of the 50 live classes captured every hour. This capability brings remote students into a live classroom environment. However, it’s not enough to simply live-stream a class. Online education must be interactive and engaging for students.

The student engagement tools within Echo360 allow remote students, as well as those in class, to interact with other students as well as their instructor. They are able to participate in polls and quizzes posed by their lecturer and also ask or answer questions with other students using the in-class discussion tool. The instructor can, in turn, adjust the presentation by monitoring student confusion tags and participate in Q&A sessions. After class, teachers can also use the Echo360 analytics to help identify students who are not engaged or responding incorrectly and therefore may be at-risk. The data in the analytics allow lecturers to make proactive interventions as required.

High-quality audio-visual installations have always been a strong point for Curtin University, and they take great pride in creating a quality teaching and learning environment. Video, classroom capture, and Echo360 have been a big part of their success.

‘Echo360, I think is a very rich system that is not just strong in the capture space, but also strong in the engagement and the active learning space where so many more interactions in the class, in the lab environment, in clinical situations can all be captured can all be enhanced with active learning tools to make for a richer experience for both staff and students.’ —Martin Hill, Team Leader, iLecture Systems, Curtin University