Three points about the new lecture theatre equipment

Bethany McNally
Friday 18 September 2020

We’ve installed new cameras and microphones in lecture theatres that will be timetabled for the dual delivery of teaching. On the 15th and 17th September, we did a live demonstration of the cameras in the lecture theatres and what you can do with them during class.

If you missed the demos, you can watch the recording.

 

#1 Use the camera presets for ease

Beside the teaching PC in lecture theatres, there’s an extron control panel. This is the small touchscreen you use to turn the projector on and choose what’s displayed.

This year you’ll see a new button called ‘camera controls.’ Once you tap through to this screen, you’ll see a basic screen that allows you to move the camera up, down, left, right and to zoom in and out.

You’ll also see the presets. These are camera angles which we’ve configured so you don’t have to do it manually during class. When you go into the room and are setting up for your lecture, try out the different presets. They’ll likely be:

  1. the teaching lecturn
  2. one whiteboard
  3. the entire teaching wall
  4. second whiteboard (if applicable)

 

#2 You can use your own laptop

Unlike the seminar room set up which requires you to use the teaching PC, you have the option to use your own laptop in lecture theatres.

If you’ve used Panopto with your own device before, you’ll be used to the silver USB cable which is used to connect to the audio system in the room. In addition to this, there will be a blue USB cable which allows you to connect to the camera system. This means your laptop needs to have 2 free USB ports for this.

 

#3 There’s a shotgun mic to pick up anything your audience says

If a student asks a question in the room, you don’t need to worry about handing them a microphone so the online students can hear – we’ve installed a shotgun microphone. This is a long narrow microphone which you can swivel to point at different parts of the audience.

The good thing about the shotgun microphone is that it integrates with the other audio in the room. Once you’re connected to the room audio on the teaching PC or your laptop, you don’t need to worry about switching audio sources. You can speak into the tie clip mic or lectern mic and have a student respond from the crowd without having to touch any of the audio settings in Teams or Panopto. This helps group discussions and Q&A sessions to feel more seamless.

However, it does mean that the microphones in the room operate on an ‘all or nothing’ basis. For example, if you wanted to ask your class a question and split them into breakout discussions for a few minutes, you would:

  • Speak into the lectern/ tie clip mic and instruct the class what you’d like them to do. You can also put this on a PowerPoint slide and share your screen for ease.
  • Advise the online students to form a separate group chat to do this online.
  • Mute the room mic in Teams. This means that audience discussions won’t be picked up and fed into the meeting.
  • When you’re ready, unmute the mic in Teams and continue the discussion.

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