SFC Keio University, Japan

The Challenge of Constructing the Best Environment for Distance Teaching

  • Keio University Shonan Fujisawa Campus
  • Keio University Shonan-Fujisawa Campus (SFC) was established in 1990 and has a student population of 5,103 (as of May 2021). It consists of 3 departments, including the Department of Environmental Information, Department of Policy Management, and Department of Nursing and Healthcare, along with 2 Institutes comprising one of Media and Management and one of Health Management. SFC enrolls students in a wide range of fields, engages in a wide variety of research fields, and actively participates in the "GIGA Program", which allows non-Japanese-speaking international students to earn English credits.
  • Website: https://www.sfc.keio.ac.jp/

The Challenge of Constructing the Best Environment for Distance Teaching

Keio University Shonan-Fujisawa Campus (SFC) was established in 1990 with the mission statement of solving problems while connecting technology, science and policy to a diverse society. There are 3 departments, including the Department of Environmental Informatics, Department of Policy Management, and Department of Nursing and Medical Sciences, along with 2 Institutes comprising one of Media and Management and one of Health Management, with a student population of 5,103 (as of May 2021).

Since its establishment 20 years ago, SFC has actively used the internet for remote communication to develop online teaching, long-distance cooperation with other universities, and telemedicine and other projects. In the continuous process of engaging in tele-related research and practice for many years, it is necessary to find a solution to create an environment that is easily accessible for distance teaching in order to provide better courses for students.

Three problems that we come across when doing distance learning

1Cost burden associated with environmental maintenance and implementation: reducing installation and operating costs

Traditional cameras installed in SFC classrooms are expensive and require the purchase of additional peripherals such as controllers to operate the cameras. In addition, teachers must assign staff to operate the camera during the class, otherwise they may not be able to concentrate on their teaching, resulting in a lot of labor costs and burdens.

2Before and after class: reduce the time and effort required to connect devices

If the teacher needs to carry and connect the camera for each class, the preparation time will be longer and the class may not be able to start on time. In addition, there is always a risk the camera could be damaged or lost. Considering the fact that teachers will also the need time and effort to clean and relocate the camera after each class, it is a necessity to have the camera be permanently installed in the classroom and ready to use.

3Difficult-to-operate complex systems: ease of use matters

The equipment used for distance learning in the past had to be combined with a variety of equipment, such as video switchers and controllers, and was not user-friendly for everyone. Thus, it’s very important to use an equipment that anyone could easily operate without needing to log in into a system or installing an app.

The AVer PTC310U AI Auto Tracking camera solves our problems!

With automatic tracking function, there is no need for personnel to operate the camera

The camera lens can not only automatically track the process of the teacher's lecture, but also automatically switch to the preset shooting point by pressing a button on the remote control, allowing the teacher to focus on the lesson without operating the camera.

Permanently installed in classroom ceilings to save space by hanging upside down

PTC310U upside down on the ceiling, but we could also fix it on the wall with a wall mount, making PTC310U very flexible to be installed at schools.

Simplified usage of multiple functions, making user operation easier

There is absolutely no need to install additional teleconferencing systems or camera operating equipment. Simply connect the PTC310U to a laptop to get started and use the remote control to adjust the shooting angle and range.

Decisive factors for choosing the AVer PTC310U

1The camera automatically focuses on the teacher, or tracks the teacher in motion

We have been looking for a camera that could focus on the teacher and automatically follow along when they move around so that the camera operator wouldn't have to be in the classroom.

  • The AI auto-tracking function can track via human body recognition. Even if the person is wearing a mask or writing on a blackboard while facing away, auto-focus tracking will still work seamlessly.
2Anyone can use

We needed a system that can be easily operated without the need to log in, install special programs, or read the manual.

  • Just connect the PTC310U and the computer with a USB cable and you will be ready to go. The only thing you need to press is the remote control to change the camera angle to your liking.
3Install the camera where it will not interfere with the teacher's class

To solve the problem of installation and having to reconnect and set up the camera for every class, we hung the PTC310U upside down on the ceiling and fixed it permanently.

  • We used the included bracket to mount the PTC310U upside down on the ceiling, but we could also fix it on the wall with a wall mount, making PTC310U very flexible to be installed at schools.

Client’s Experience

Tanaka Maki
Multimedia Service Manager
Keio University Shonan Fujisawa Media Center

Traditional equipment requires significant installation costs

Each of the six campuses of Keio University has a media center (library), which is mainly responsible for the operation and maintenance of the library, but the Shonan Fujisawa Media Center is slightly different from other campuses and is responsible for maintenance work.

SFC has been actively promoting distance learning long before the outbreak of the new coronavirus. The media center is also preparing the necessary environment but requires a complete set of equipment, including cameras, operators, video conferencing equipment, and screen switchers for filming the course. The AVer PTC310U does not need any of the external equipment listed above, so this time we decided to install it in 7 classrooms that have yet to be equipped with distance teaching equipment.

Kudo Noratsu
Senior Staff
Keio University SFC Institute

Find a way that everyone can use without incurring operating costs

From being a student to now as a researcher at SFC, I have been consistently working in the field of electrical communication such as distance learning and telemedicine. In the past 20 years, SFC has continued to promote distance-related applications, such as long-distance communication with other universities, and long-distance connections between SFC and other campuses, etc. Among these applications, I experienced several problems, including the cost of operating personnel, cameras for remote classes, setting machines and the time required to do so, the complexity of equipment operation, and the difficulty of usage, etc. There are only a few people who can teach remotely without the trouble of preparing and operating equipment in advance, hence, it is only after we solve these problems that we can teach through high-quality distance teaching cameras.

In addition, besides hardware devices, various software applications such as H.323/SIP, Zoom, Webex, MS Teams, etc. are also increasing. The important thing is that they can be used in a variety of ways and do not require special equipment.

The product display process is very good, so I decided to import

When I saw the press release of the PTC310U, I was very interested and immediately asked AVer to come to the school to demonstrate how it operates. After seeing the demonstration and getting my questions answered, I decided to import it. Later, AVer’s display machines were quickly rented out, and users’ questions about the products were fully answered. The officially purchased products also arrived quickly. Luckily, they were used in time for the start of school in October.

Distance learning can bring new value to the field of education

With distance learning, teachers can not only teach at home, but also virtually anywhere through distance collaboration, providing students with subjects that are not available in our school and the opportunity to become first-class academic experts or overseas researchers. When conducting remote guest lectures, you can also simultaneously find online materials that cannot be obtained in face-to-face courses, allowing distance teaching to bring new values to education. Therefore, I think it is very important to improve the course’s content by utilizing the perfect equipment like the telephoto cameras.

How Keio University SFC uses PTC310U

The cameras originally used for distance teaching at Shonan-Fujisawa Campus required various external equipment, such as: camera operators, image switchers, image distributors, and of course, the course photography team. With the adoption of PTC310U in schools, there is no longer a need for a fixed resident photographer to attend classes. As a result, the distance learning system is simplified and the operating costs are reduced, creating an environment where anyone can easily conduct distance teaching.

Installation and configuration of PTC310U

The PTC310U was introduced into 7 classrooms: 4 with 70-80 people, 1 with 126 people, and 2 with 192 people. All of the cameras were fixed onto the classroom ceiling and required the hanging arm and the included bracket. When classes are taught using Webex or Zoom, PTC310U can automatically track and focus on the teachers. The benefit of mounting the camera on the ceiling is so that it saves not only the hassle of connecting and setting up the camera for each class, but also the installation space.

The PTC310U hanging upside down from the ceiling is powered by LAN (PoE+ power). Since the PTC310U and the connected computer are separated by a certain distance, the HDMI cable connected to the camera is extended through the HDBaseT extender and connected to the HDMI splitter, in which the output from the branch end of the HDMI splitter is connected to the computer via the USB adapter, while the other end is connected to the monitor. In addition, since there is some distance from the teacher's desk to the camera, an infrared receiver is used to extend the reception area of the remote control.

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