Nestled in the Allegheny Mountains of western Pennsylvania, Duquesne University is a private Catholic research university with an enrollment of 6,000 undergraduates. The College of Medicine is opening an osteopathic medical school and identified a need to enhance the communication capabilities in their lecture halls. Ranging in size from 100 to 300 seats, the theater-style auditoriums are equipped with standard tablet/armchair seating. Even with acoustical treatments already in place, when filled the lecture theaters would have a significant amount of background noise that may make it difficult for students to be heard clearly when asking questions. Additionally, instructors may not be able to identify which student the question came from. Due to the dense nature of the subject material and limited instructional time, passing around wireless microphones was considered too much of a disruption.
The initial request from the College of Medicine was to install individual microphones at each seat throughout the lecture theater. However, given the ubiquity of smartphone usage among college students, the university decided to explore a communication solution using already-familiar technology. Given the size of the user population, the university has deployed multiple VLANs to partition network traffic, so the microphone solution had to accommodate network traversal. “Students are on one VLAN and faculty staff are on another. So for universities to use it, the solution has to be to able to work across VLANs seamlessly,” said Todd Hughes, Senior Classroom Technologist at Duquesne. Crowd Mics fit the bill nicely.
Crowd Mics empowers audience interaction by putting a microphone in the pocket of every smartphone owner. The key to Crowd Mics adoption and acceptance at Duquesne was its simplicity. “Go to the app store, download Crowd Mics, and boom. The students already know how to do this and Crowd Mics was very easy for the students to follow without any instructions,” said Lauren Turin, Director of Classroom Technology.
Crowd Mics provided a very cost-effective solution for enabling personal voice communications within lecture halls of varying size at Duquesne. Hughes confirmed “the price is absolutely right for what Crowd Mics can do and what it allows us to do in a large lecture hall.”