Collaborative learning and esports driving University Pro AV tech investment

posted on Tuesday, 23rd April 2019 by Steve May

Education  Entertainment  Enterprise  Pro AV 

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Universities and education institutions are making big investments in a growing range of AV technologies, according to a new study by Futuresource Consulting. The trend is being driven by collaborative learning practices and, perhaps surprisingly, a surge in popularity for on campus esports.

“Universities present a large and growing opportunity for technology vendors, as collaboration tech begins to conquer the campus,” explains Ben Davis, Principal Analyst. “From wireless presentation solutions to lecture capture systems, interactive displays to microphones and beyond, students and faculties are demanding more from their lectures, as content and learning trends evolve.”

The research, conducted in North America and Western Europe, reveals speakers and microphones have the highest penetration of the technologies under review, however wireless presentation solutions show the strongest potential for growth in North America. Futuresource market penetration forecasts to 2021 predict increases of 43 per cent and 3 per cent in lecture theatres and classrooms respectively. In Western Europe, video conferencing systems and wireless presentation solutions both show strong growth potential.

The trend to collaborative learning in seminar rooms and lecture theatres is driving uptake. “This is being accelerated by the wide range of student-owned devices, running a variety of operating systems. As these solutions can allow any device to present and share content, there’s a sizeable market potential for vendors,” says Davis. By 2021 Futuresource expects close to 200,000 wireless presentation solutions installed in higher education institutions across North America and Western Europe, up from less than 150,000 in 2018.
Despite being a niche category, video communications present a range of opportunities for students and universities. For suppliers it’s a largely untapped market.

“Common use cases for video conferencing include making online courses more accessible, enabling students to collaborate better on projects, connecting with remote subject matter experts, and the ability to hold office drop-in sessions online,” explains Davis. “These applications bring significant cost savings and increase the quality and accessibility of courses on offer. As a result, the video conferencing space has seen volumes soar and interest bloom in recent years.”

The rising popularity of esports (electronic sports) is also providing a growing opportunity for displays audio and broadcast tech in universities. The installed base of esports devices in surveyed universities was around 46,000 in 2018, which will rise to 64,000 by 2021. Competing in esports leagues requires not only computers for players, but often an arena-like environment to hold both gamers and spectators. These could be specially adapted multi-purpose areas, or even dedicated arenas. Such venues require a range of AV and broadcast technologies including displays, audio and streaming equipment, which presents a wider opportunity.

Perhaps surprisingly, interactive display solutions are not trending as strongly in higher education. This appears to be down to a greater focus on small group learning, collaboration and discussion, and less emphasis on teacher-led instruction. Enterprise collaboration providers like Cisco, Microsoft and Google have launched team collaboration displays, which combine video conferencing with interactive displays and enable in-room support for conferencing platforms like Microsoft’s Skype for Business and Cisco’s Webex.

Steve May

Inside CI Editor Steve May is a freelance technology journalist, who also writes for T3, TechRadar, Home Cinema Choice and ERT (amongst others).

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