Background and Aim
The project was initiated in late 2018 to deliver a Teaching Learning Capture solution for St. Mary’s University, along with the relevant support service and policies, which enables the recording of teaching sessions (e.g. lectures, tutorials, workshops, group study discussions, etc.) and making those recordings available to students through digital channels.
Such solutions are used extensively across the Higher Education (HE) sector to provide students with an enhanced student experience via access to content from learning sessions for the first time, where a session has been missed or not attended, or to reinforce learning and revision following attendance.
The solution consists of:
- Audio visual equipment (cameras & microphones) which were installed in 50 St Mary’s teaching spaces.
- A software solution which enables video recording, storage and editing.
On 6th March 2019 a soft market test event attended by six invited potential suppliers was held to inform discovery of what is available in the market. St Mary’s academic staff were invited to attend and this provided an opportunity for the project to gather feedback from them and also to act as an initial staff engagement activity. The feedback received was generally positive but it also allowed any concerns to be aired.
In order to achieve a competitively priced and flexible solution it was decided not to procure a fully packaged solution from a single supplier.
A cloud-based solution rather than one that is internally hosted at St. Mary’s was preferred as the Learning Capture market is mature and, therefore, provides competitively priced, high levels of capacity and resilience that cannot be matched internally. Additionally, the software solution needed to be hardware-agnostic so that it would work with any existing or future AV equipment and PCs.
For the software solution a tender process was carried out with 6 potential suppliers via St Mary’s In-tend portal as a result of which the contract was awarded to: PANOPTO.
For the AV equipment (hardware) an in-house exercise was carried out in order to inform the tender specification by understanding (a) how fixed learning spaces are being used across SMU (b) how staff are using or would like to use video and audio capture within and without fixed learning spaces and (c) the types of fixed and portable AV equipment suitable for different spaces and teaching scenarios.
A tender process was then carried out with potential suppliers via St Mary’s In-tend portal as a result of which the contract was awarded to: Reflex.
AV hardware was initially deployed to 3 teaching spaces for end-to-end system testing and user acceptance testing prior to full rollout. Audio visual equipment (cameras & microphones) was installed in 50 St Mary’s teaching spaces.
The TLC service was launched 13th January 2020 prior to the start of undergraduate teaching on the 27th January.
Support staff were pro-actively deployed to teaching spaces to provide support to staff who had opted in to the service.
A phased uptake of TLC across the University was intended with academic staff opting in to the service over the proposed five year contract term. However, the TLC service has subsequently been a key component in enabling the University to provide a Remote Academic Teaching model as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This project kicked of in Summer 2020 to extend TLC to x23 more existing teaching spaces.
In addition, experience of using TLC in the phase 1 rooms identified that some of the lower spec equipment (i.e. webcams & boundary mics) wasn’t of sufficient quality. Therefore, this project also upgraded them (x30) to better equipment i.e. fixed wall/ceiling mounted Axis cameras and wearable Revolabs microphones.
The project also provided TLC for x3 newly created classrooms.
For procurement and installation of the hardware, it was agreed that given the relatively short time since the tender for phase 1 was conducted, it was unlikely that doing another tender would result in an alternative supplier who is better on both cost and quality. Plus, it made sense for the same contractor to continue with Phase 2 as an extension of phase 1 for consistency.
Installations were carried out in October working around occupancy of rooms and were completed at the end of October 2020.