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Remote control for AV classrooms.

Educational institutions are upgrading AV systems in classrooms to keep pace with advances in multimedia and communications as beneficial tools for instruction (such as DVD and the Internet). As with the introduction of any new technology into a learning environment, these new AV systems bring new pedagogical opportunities for teachers. In order to maximize their value, these systems must be user-friendly and non-intimidating. They must also be easy to maintain and support throughout a school or campus.

In addressing the challenges of upgrading AV systems in classrooms, technology managers have recognized remote control as an important element in the successful implementation of new AV systems in classrooms. Solutions have been introduced allowing the teacher to directly control AV equipment within a classroom from a simple, centralized location. Also, multiple AV systems can be controlled for remote management and technical support.

AV Control Within the Classroom Typically, the instructor is the end user of an AV system in a classroom. The instructor must be able to operate the system from a central location, effortlessly and with minimal training. Other important considerations are longterm reliability and reasonable cost for implementing AV system control. How can these be achieved? One approach is to implement a system requiring touch panel modules. Such control units, with touch-sensitive LCD screens, are relatively expensive and imbue sophistication and high-tech appeal. They offer wide-ranging possibilities for the visual styling of the displays, and allow for multiple layers or "pages" of displays. Other advantages of touch panels are that they can display only the relevant controls for the current device and they have the ability to program multiple AV functions at the touch of a button, also known as a macro.

Alternatively, less expensive control systems ore available that employ simple control panels with tactile push buttons and controls. Many of these simplified control systems have been designed specifically with the instructor in mind, for quick and intuitive interaction with the buttons and controls. They offer durability and longterm reliability, having been designed for repeated, rugged use in institutions. The buttons are abundantly sized, clearly labeled, and often are backlit. Because these simple control panels are fixed in design, they can easily be duplicated in multiple rooms. Many of these products have integrated device control, therefore providing a one-product solution for essential control of projectors in small classrooms, as well as other devices including screens and DVD players.

Managing Multiple Classroom AV Systems Control via IP AV systems for classrooms and lecture halls are likely duplicated throughout a school or the entire campus. Supporting all of these systems may seem a daunting task for a staff of professionals and technicians, but AV system operation can be integrated with IP networking technology for centralized control over wide areas.

The integration of AV systems and IP networks allows For facility-wide and administrative approaches to remote management, monitoring, scheduling, security, and maintenance. Complete system technical support can be provided from a remote help desk location, whereby administrators can operate and configure AV systems, check system or device status, and run diagnostics. What are the practical benefits of remote access to AV systems? By assuming direct control of a system, administrators can immediately assist an instructor with operating difficulties. The ability to monitor a projector's elapsed lamp hours is useful in assessing whether lamp replacement is necessary. Furthermore, scheduling projectors to shut off at specific times will help conserve lamp life.

Systems that remotely access AV systems can be programmed to send instant notifications to administrators via email. And since projectors installed in classrooms may be susceptible to theft, administrators can be immediately notified whenever online connection to any projector has been compromised.

Eventually, all AV systems will depend on IT technology, not only for control but also the exchange of digital AV content. Ensuring a comprehensive data network infrastructure today for classrooms and schools is an important step forward in meeting the needs of tomorrow's AV communications.

For more information, call (800) 633-9876 or visit

Lee Dodson

Vice President Marketing (Worldwide)

Extron Corp.
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Author:Dodson, Lee
Publication:District Administration
Date:Sep 1, 2004
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