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Controllers as Part of the Integrated Classroom

The increase of technology devices in the classroom has presented the challenge of managing control for each component. Similar to home audio video equipment, an Infrared (IR) remote control is included with each device to allow control of various features such as turning power on or off, input selection and volume adjustments. The implications of utilizing IR remotes in a classroom environment can be detrimental to the educational experience. Since Infrared is a form of wireless communication using invisible light other light sources such as florescent lighting can cause interference, preventing devices from receiving remote commands. Multiple remotes can be disruptive when the teacher has to locate each remote in the system and recall the proper sequence for the desired activity. Lost or stolen remotes can impede value activities such as showing a DVD movie or using the projector for slide show and visual aid content.

To overcome the challenges of Infrared remotes a classroom controller can be introduced to operate as the "nerve center" of an integrated classroom. A controller provides the teacher with the ability to control all of the classroom's Audio/Video devices from a single key pad, rather than multiple remotes. The controller unit can be programmed to perform multiple commands upon a single button press. For example, pressing a single button may turn on the classroom's Blu-ray player, turn on the classroom's projector, switch the projector to the appropriate input, and adjust the audio system volume to a preset level for the Blu-ray player. Since the controller can be affixed to a wall box or piece of furniture in the classroom, the obstacle of lost or stolen control capability is virtually eliminated. This reduces the complexity of the A/V system and allows the teacher to spend more time focusing on teaching rather than searching for remotes and recalling specific input sequences.

Most controllers are capable of utilizing control from Serial RS232 protocols and connectivity. RS232 is a form of serial communication where commands are sent as an electrical signal through a cable causing a device to perform a function. Unlike IR, RS232 requires a direct cable connection between the controller system and the device. A direct cable connection eliminates the risk of interference from light sources and guarantees reliable operation. To reduce the risk or interference from light sources and provide stable operation, a classroom controller will typically have an IR emitter that attaches directly over the IR receiver on the A/V device. Most controllers will offer both IR and RS232 connectivity to accommodate equipment needs and available control type.

Premium classroom controllers are customizable to meet the needs of any installation. Since the key pad for an installation can be standardized to each room training teachers on the system becomes simple process. Uniformity of the key pad layout becomes important when faculty members move from one classroom to another throughout the day, whereas in environments where classroom controllers are not used, it is reasonable to expect that a teacher needs to be trained for each room used. This is especially true in school environments where the make and model of A/V equipment varies between rooms. In an environment using a classroom controller that has been standardized for button placement and function, the teachers would need to be trained to use the controller once.

A premium controller is also beneficial to those installing and supporting the unit. Graphic User Interface (GUI) configuration software reduces the time spent on programming the controller for each room's specific configuration. When identical equipment and setup exists, programming becomes a onetime process saving hours of installation time. The initial configuration can be uploaded within seconds to each controller installed in a classroom using a USB thumb drive or direct computer connection. When equipment is upgraded years later, the same controller can be programmed to operate with the new equipment and sequence configuration without the need to remove the controller from its installed position. The virtual button feature allows for automatic timed events to occur, such as commanding all equipment to shutdown at a specific time of day. This can be beneficial in reducing unnecessary energy consumption and equipment wear caused by equipment being left in a power on state when not in use. Individuals responsible for supporting classroom equipment can benefit from a reduction in assistance requests caused by multiple IR remotes complications.

This white paper is for informational purposes only and is subject to change without notice. C2G makes no guarantees, either expressed or implied, concerning the accuracy, completeness or reliability of the information found in this document.