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Episode 13 – Digital Canvas: the Modern Classroom

Today’s students live in a vastly different world of technology than the generations before them. Consuming content on multiple screens simultaneously is, for them, the norm. In this week’s episode, professor Gary Kayye shows us that the future is happening now. In the modern classroom, the display is not a single monitor or projector connected to a single video source, but a complete digital canvas on which content may be positioned. Where traditional presentation systems ask “which single content do you want on the single display”, this new approach to presentation asks “which content is most important right now”, leaving other content on screen for context and background, ready to be called to the front at a moment’s notice.

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Gary Kayye

Episode guest

Gary Kayye
Founder of Kayye Consulting and president and CEO of rAVe

Gary has worked in technology branding and marketing for more than 25 years. He was the founder of Kayye Consulting, a technology consulting company, and currently serves as president and CEO of rAVe [Publications], a publishing and digital strategy and communications company that he founded in 2003. Prior to that, he served as the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Extron and a VP at AMX Corporation.

Gary’s been the keynote speaker at over 1000 technology shows and events because of his extensive marketing and branding expertise as well as his entertaining and approachable speaking style. He has either assisted or helped create a number of branding campaigns for dozens of tech companies (including brands like Cisco, NEC, HP, InFocus, Sony and even the University of North Carolina) and has even served as an expert witness in branding court cases.
In addition, he also teaches classes, leads workshops and writes about technology and the future of adverting, marketing and public relations. Gary is recognized as a social media and new media technology expert, especially in the B2B markets.

Episode transcript

Justin Kennington (00:07):

Hello, and welcome to SDVoE LIVE! I’m your host, Justin Kennington and this is TV for pro AV. We have a super cool show for you today, a very special guest, our dear friend-of-the show, Gary Kayye. Can I say it – a towering figure in pro AV? You all know him as the head of rAVe Publications, but I think you’re going to find out about some of his other talents and abilities today. We’re going to hear more about that. Also, you’re going to see in just a few moments, we’ve made some big upgrades to our set. We’ve done those in relation to today’s topic, which is about some of the big trends that are happening in the education space, especially higher ed, around pro AV technology, something we call the “digital canvas”.

We’re going to show you what that means today. We’re going to talk about it with Gary and see what an exciting capability it can be for the learning experience.

Without any more from me at this moment, I’m going to send it over to Matt Dodd in the classroom. He’s going to run you through a preview of a new course here in SDVoE Academy, “SDVoE in Education”.

Matt Dodd (02:32):

Let’s take a little look at a little clip. I think you’ll like this one.

It wasn’t that long ago when lecturers used to rely on blackboards, dry whiteboards, and flip charts to deliver seminars to students. We used overhead projectors and acetates to project content onto a screen long before the days of PowerPoint or Keynote. To present video footage, we wheeled in a CRT TV on a trolley with a videocassette recorder. While it’s nostalgic to look back on those days, it’s fair to say we don’t really miss them and thankfully things have massively changed since then. This course will walk you through the evolution of the classroom and give you clarity on how the modern-day education space is taking full advantage of SDVoE technology.

The student experience in schools and universities has changed dramatically in recent decades. Whiteboards have been swapped out for smart boards to help students interact with the rest of the class directly from their own laptops, in turn, allowing the process of facilitation to transform the way they learn. Lecturers no longer need to remain at the front of a classroom, they can move around the room and interact with the class while maintaining control of the AV systems by the use of a simple client interface on a tablet. The advent of learning pods has also allowed groups of students to work together, often using a large display to share content, not just with each other, but with others within the university in real time. The adoption of these learning pods in universities across the world has allowed networked AV technology to introduce new, innovative educational approaches, which are changing the way that students learn.

Justin Kennington (06:11):

Should we tell them what this is? This is our digital canvas, right? This is that concept we wanted to talk to you about. The idea of rather than putting a single piece of content on a single display and focusing on that as the centerpiece, of in this case education, having such a large display where we can now bring multiple pieces of content. Here’s one as a center of focus, but here’s what’s coming up next. We’ll be able to keep a history of what’s been on the screen. We’ll hear more when we talk to Gary about how this can be used in the classroom, but this really shows you what that digital canvas is about.

Matt Dodd (06:44):

Let’s see it in action. Let’s have some news. See how the whole digital canvas moves around. We still have information you can see up here so you can still remember what we talked about last time. We’re not using the flip, moving really valuable information out the way, we’re keeping it in front of you. This is great news, this is good. This is a great investment, Justin. This first piece, “Building Long-Term Educational AV Out of Short-Term Hybrid Uses” has a chunky title, but it was a really good piece. (Visit “Resources” on the episode 13 page in SDVoE Academy for links to the news articles.)

Where did it take you?

Justin Kennington (07:28):

The thesis of the article was about, look, COVID hit a year and a half ago, educational institutions had to make fundamental changes to how they deliver education. The article here is about how we turn those changes into long-term benefits. What lessons do we take? How do we leverage the technology that was built in? One of the interesting takeaways for me was how much this article focused on the benefits of AV over IP specifically and the way AV over IP gives a classroom flexibility for what devices are in use, for where those devices are located in the room. It makes it easy to give an educational presentation to the students in the classroom, to the students maybe in an overflow classroom nearby, and then to the students who are remote somewhere at home, or elsewhere.

Matt Dodd (08:22):

I think for me it’s really shown we don’t like to refer to the COVID-19 pandemic thing too much because, hey, it’s around us all the time. I think what it did do in this space, and this article has told me, it’s really forced behavioral change, not just in the tutors and the teachers, but also in the students when it comes to using educational tech. We often think that young people embrace new technology all the time, but it’s not entirely the case, especially when it comes to the education forum. Also, a real takeaway point for me on this was that the online services have really stepped up to the plate during this horrible time. They’ve really improved both reliability and performance to make these remote platforms much more accessible to the wider market. That’s been a real bonus.

AV over IP is being taken far more seriously now. This piece makes that clear, dedicated AV networks are being seen. They’re getting a lot more focus when it comes to the change management programs of these places. There’s a really good example in here of the University of Southern California who in 2020 alone, deployed an AV network to 248 individual learning locations in one year.

Let’s use our digital canvas. Let’s bring in the next piece of news “Past, Present and Present Again”.

Justin Kennington (10:27):

Anyone who listens to me present too often knows that I love context and I love looking at the history of things for long-term trends to understand how we got here and where we might be going. So yeah, to see this author start his piece on trends in education technology with Aristotle, I said, “Wow, I’ve got to read this. He’s really throwing it back, and brought us through.” He painted a picture that is obvious when you think about it, but I never thought about it. More than 500 years ago the only way to do education was to have a teacher who knew things and could just say words, talk to you and explain those things to you, to deliver the content to you.

Then 500 years ago, suddenly we got the printing press and now we can use books to learn from, and the teacher can be there to facilitate what we do with those books. One hundred years ago the motion picture was invented, and in the piece it noted that Thomas Edison himself predicted that in the very near future, probably nearer than actually happened, he said, “All education will happen through moving pictures and video instead of textbooks.” Maybe we’re just starting to get to that place now, but what the piece really painted a picture of, that I found most interesting, was a transition of the educator, of the teacher, from someone whose job is to deliver content into someone whose job is to interpret content. Now the teacher can bring in content from subject matter experts that aren’t themselves, and it’s the teacher’s job to facilitate and interpret rather than to just be that rote-memorized, delivery of content.

Matt Dodd (12:17):

The teacher teaches, the student learns. That’s the first thing you read when you read this article and it immediately gets the attention. It got my attention certainly as an educator. It goes through how, as you’ve just said, the technology has embraced and supported the fact that the teacher is now part of the class and not just the guy that stands there and pushes out the knowledge for the student to learn in any way he can, without the teacher really be engaged in that learning.

This article almost talks about the flipped classroom approach. By the time you get to the end of it, it’s really turned the whole concept of students learn and teachers learn. Teachers start the ball rolling, and the students and the teachers together keep that ball rolling. The rolling stone gathers no moss. I think he’s having a massive impact on education.

Matt Dodd (13:51):

So talking to subject matter experts, we’ve got Gary Kayye coming in. Hey, Gary, how are you?

Gary Kayye (14:12):

I’m doing well, thank you. Thanks for having me.

Justin Kennington (14:20):

Thanks for joining us, Gary. I teased it a little bit in the introduction. I said everybody knows you as the face and the voice of rAVe. But you have another gig, right? You’re a professor?

Gary Kayye (14:33):

Since 2009 I’ve been teaching at the University of North Carolina, started as an adjunct for the first five, maybe six years and for the last five years I’ve been a full-time professor. I teach advertising, branding, and marketing classes in the School of Media and Journalism.

Justin Kennington (14:53):

So there you are. You’ve got a classroom, you’ve got a room full of students. You’ve lived in this world of AV technology. Now here you are as, let’s say, a real end user. Not just an AV guy like the rest of us. What’s that been like? How have you seen classroom technology evolving?

Gary Kayye (15:19):

It’s actually a really good question, because I think I sit in a very unique position. I might be the only person who’s been in AV a long time, who’s also an actual professor teaching, using the gear on an everyday basis. For the first half of my teaching career I was very frustrated. I was teaching in an 80-year-old building with technology that was probably 10 years old. We did have newer projectors, but not anything else. They were still using overhead projector, which no one was using. They were using document cameras, which one professor was using. They were using just old technology. The screens were 4×3 for the most part. And so I said, “Hey, I teach only with technology”, meaning I didn’t bring anything physical to teach with. I was always plugging in my laptop and just teaching.

I would bring in guests using Skype and things like that back then, before Zoom and it was very frustrating because I’d have to bring in my own camera. I’d have to bring in my own computer specifically for Skype, which was separate from my computer that I was generating my slides with. That’s because as soon as I had Skype up, it was on top of the slides. I couldn’t have the slides up. The person presenting couldn’t present and talk at the same time, and of course we didn’t have production switchers in the room, so I said, “Hey, give me a room, and let me design a room to be a super high tech room that does exactly what I want. And I’ll get it all outfitted for you for free and test it out and see if other people like it.”

I designed a room for myself. Selfishly, I went to all the brands out there, the major brands and said, “Hey, will you donate equipment to this room?” which they all did and said, “Hey, I want to build the perfect classroom, which I wrote a case study on, which is available online.” I built a room that allowed me to teach nonlinear and that’s the key. Prior to this room existing, everyone at UNC, pretty much everyone at every college nowadays still teach linear, meaning slide one to slide two to slide three. Then if you need to show a video on YouTube, you close PowerPoint or Keynote, which is what I use. Then you open that back up, show slide five, six, seven, then close it and then open up a browser, then open that back up. You’re kind of teaching in this linear method, which was crazy. So I built a classroom that was completely nonlinear, which is what gave birth to the concept of the digital canvas.

Justin Kennington (17:49):

You know, in the piece we were just chatting about before, the author noted that today’s higher ed students are the first generation who have never learned from a textbook-first approach to education. There’s a cultural shift with this generation. How does the digital canvas serve today’s college students who are so primed for consuming content from multiple places at the same time?

Gary Kayye (18:27):

You should start with one little interesting fact. Prior to the printing press, the way that you got all your information was word of mouth. How accurate is that? History is incredibly inaccurate. It’s all based on what a person actually wrote. Nowadays we have the ability to bring in the experts from anywhere in the world.

The advantage of the digital canvas, let’s talk about the concept. The concept is, I have a room, whatever the size of the room is, the CTS guidelines tell me exactly what size of screen I should put in there or how big of an image I should project in the room based on the least favored viewers, the ones sitting the furthest away. Depending on how big that screen is, that tells us how far back to make the first row.

Now that needs to be updated because that data is incorrect. If I put a screen in based on that, then that’s the size of my PowerPoint slides. But that concept came about prior to the digital canvas. Now, what we do in our classrooms at UNC is we make the screen floor-to-ceiling and as wide as we can, and sometimes larger than 16×9. I have one classroom with a screen 32×9, like yours. I can put up my PowerPoint or Keynote slide, the normal size it would have been, which takes up one third the size of the screen. Then I could put all my other content up at the same time. So I don’t ever have to close anything.

I can have my YouTube video playing. I could have my browser up, I’d have my Twitter feed for my class. The students can interact. I can have the QR code for them to actually wirelessly share their content. I can have anything I want up there. In fact, I can have another content from another class playing because our rooms are AV over IP, but the real evolution in digital canvas came with 4K. With 4K, the PowerPoint slide is in full resolution. With 1080 I was having to chop down the resolution to do a digital canvas, but in 4K I can have it in its native resolution, which in most cases is 1280×720. I still have a ton of room to have more content up there, right? Most people aren’t making PowerPoint slides that are much higher than 720, or maybe 1080, which is still one fourth the resolution of a 4K.

But here’s the thing, the density of the pixels is four times that of 1080, which means that the front row can now move closer to the screen. Students can be sitting closer to the screen and not see the pixels, which is, by the way, the reason why the front row parameters existed. The CTS design parameters are so you’re not sitting too close to the screen so you don’t see the squares, the little pixels. Therefore, now I’ve actually increased the capacity of the room. We took rooms literally that seated 25 people that now seat 50 people because of the digital canvas.

Justin Kennington (21:33):

Interesting. Because now you can get people closer to the screen and you’ve got a big screen, you can get people farther from the screen and it fits in.

Gary Kayye (21:39):

Wider out, everything, and of course put collaboration displays in there too, so that they can turn any direction and see the content if they want.

Justin Kennington (21:48):

How does this all affect the learning itself? Have you seen a quantifiable effect that people learn better?

Gary Kayye (22:01):

For anyone over the age of 40, this freaks them out, because we usually single tap the browser, then we go back. But if you look at anyone under the age of 40 and look at their desktop, their desktop is filled with content. So let me back up, let me just show you my desktop. Look at how much stuff I’ve got open at the same time here on my desktop. This is very typical for younger learners. They are multi-taskers. They have lots of things open at the same time. Maybe the professor’s intimidated by having four pieces of content up at the same time, but we’re not teaching to the professor. We’re teaching to the students. The students, even when you only have one content on, they’ve got two or three things open on their computers while they’re sitting in class. So the multitasking actually doesn’t bother them. Actually they are used to it in the way that they learn. It enriches the experience because then they’re paying attention to whatever you’re putting up there all the time.

Justin Kennington (23:05):

It’s almost like with so much on the screen they’re going to be distracted, they’re going to be distracted by some of your other content, rather than distracted by something that’s irrelevant to class, poking at their own cellphones and not listening.

Gary Kayye (23:18):

If you have a digital canvas, you can put up your current slide, but put up your past slides too. So a student never has to say, “Hey, can you go back to the last slide?” That’s one thing you can do with the digital canvas that you can’t do without it. That’s one example. Another example is, you can have closed caption content up, not on top of the image stuff that you’re presenting, that could be in a different location. Those are two examples.

There’s lots of other examples of content you could be putting up there. Like I said, the ability to have students collaborate with the content on the screen, not just wirelessly share, but actually collaborate, having a QR code on the screen using, for example, any of the collaboration software platforms, Bluescape, or Entelo, it doesn’t really matter. You scan a QR code and then they can collaborate in the classroom with whatever content they’re working on with the rest of the class, especially in group projects.

Justin Kennington (24:11):

So I’m going to pause this for now, because there’s a lot more I want to hear. I’m interested to hear about how you prepare for a class in this environment. Join us for the aftershow and we’ll talk about it there.

Matt Dodd (26:57):

Next show is episode 14, “The New AV Frontier: eSports”, this looks interesting. Tell us more.

Justin Kennington (27:19):

I’m excited about this. Our guest is from New Era Technology. This is a systems integrator who has had some focus on the e-sports arena. Mike Morgan is going to talk about the business side of e-sports. We’ll touch on the technology, of course, but what I’m interested in is the way that, for example, some of the smaller universities are starting to use e-sports as a recruiting tool. It has real implications on their university business. And of course, we’ll see how technologies like AV over IP and in particular SDVoE can fit that application. It’s going to be a really interesting show to look at the bigger picture of what e-sports means today.


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