Beijing Foreign Studies University Builds 4K Smart Classroom
BFSU opened the first 4K IP-based smart classroom in China supported by NewTek’s TriCaster TC1 and NDI. The project turned out to be a remarkable innovation for education.
Perhaps no other type of room holds more potential for sparking imaginations and spawning ideas than the classroom. Teaching and storytelling have been intertwined since the first school bell ever rang. In the software-driven, digitally-defined networked age that we live in, it was only a matter of time before advances in video storytelling would begin to replace the traditional chalk and blackboard approach to education, transforming the way learning material is delivered to students. After face-to-face interaction, video is the most powerful form of communication. Inside the classroom, why not have both?
Perhaps nowhere else in the world has this idea been advanced further than at Beijing Foreign Studies University or BFSU.
Promoted by the Ministry of Education, BFSU created a pilot project to build a 4K IP-based smart classroom. In cooperation with NewTek and Beijing Itsync Tech Co., Ltd. (Itsync), education experts from the university and technicians from these high-tech enterprises jointly explored the building of smart classrooms combined with advanced teaching concepts. At the end of 2019, BFSU opened the first 4K IP-based smart classroom in the country. The project turned out to be a remarkable innovation for education.
The smart classroom relies on IP-based production of broadcast-quality videos for teaching purposes. It has integrated advanced technologies that enable the university to conduct interactive virtual classes as well as to produce teaching materials such as recorded lectures.
Using the existing VLAN network infrastructure within the university and NDI® technology, video materials are transmitted between classrooms and even across campuses with excellent transmission signal quality up to 4K UHD at a minimum cost.
NDI is a royalty-free standard and a brand of the Vizrt Group developed by NewTek that allows video, audio and metadata to be shared bi-directionally across a standard Ethernet network in real time with very low latency. Using NDI-enabled devices at BFSU eliminates the need for lengthy and costly uni-directional cable runs connecting one channel per cable. It saves time and money and opens up creative connectivity possibilities that otherwise would not exist.
Relying on the NDI and the high-speed UHD 4K video signal transmission, BFSU can do cross-regional and cross-border remote teaching. This makes it possible to optimize educational resources for distance learning and make them more accessible and engaging.
A NewTek TriCaster® TC1 live production system serves as the central hub of the broadcast production, covering multi-channel/camera real-time signal acquisition, source switching, recording, virtual production, editing, and live broadcasting.
The smart classroom supports various functions including data collection for analysis. It has user-friendly desks and chairs, practical podium as well as multimedia equipment.
The traditional blackboard is replaced by a high-tech memory whiteboard and a large high-definition display. It allows the teachers to write, mark, erase content and explain key points conveniently. The whiteboard can be accessed in the cloud and can be seen by the students in real time.
The classroom has a green screen and can be turned into a virtual studio using the TriCaster TC1 3D virtual scene keying tool. This set-up enables BFSU to produce broadcast-quality 4K videos in real time for live broadcast and rebroadcast.
In addition, they also have a separate observation area equipped with a one-way observation window and a large live broadcast screen. Experts may observe classes, exchange ideas, do real-time recording, add labels and comments without interfering with teachers and students.
BFSU has set a new benchmark for building a smart classroom with innovative ways to enhance teaching and learning experience.
Regarding the entire production system, the project leader from Itsync said, “The 4K IP-based UHD recording has several advantages. The first one is the convenient transmission. It allows concurrent transmission of the video, audio, communication, time synchronization and control signals by fully leveraging the IP network. Another advantage is the high interactivity. Reliable IP switches are based on signal transmission, switching and dispatching. The availability of the core network switch provides fault resilience. The system is backed up in real time to ensure security and reliability. In this way, synchronization problems with traditional recording and broadcasting systems are solved.”
The high-speed transmission and fast exchange of high-quality academic resources open up more opportunities for continuous cooperation and advancement in education. The successful implementation of smart classrooms in BFSU is an excellent example of how IP and video production technologies can help schools and universities transform the ways educators teach and students learn.
NewTek will also continue to invest in the 4K IP technology which can lead to the development of more innovative solutions in the field of education.
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