02.10.09

Primary concerns

AUTHOR: Inavate
ActivBoard in use during German class

A school from the Middle Ages is the unlikely recipient of audiovisual equipment claimed to make it the first fully equipped interactive primary school in Austria. Local integrator, J. Klausner carried out the installation, rather surprisingly gluing much of the equipment to the impenetrable stone walls.

Hall in Tirol is an ancient picturesque Austrian town, once famous for a thriving salt trade that dates back to the 13th century; now a popular tourist destination. The town nestles in the Karwendel Mountains and striking medieval buildings look out over the Alpine landscape.

One such building is the Volksschule Unterer Stadtplatz, a school that, according to integrator Edwin Klausner, boasts the accolade of being the first fully equipped interactive primary school in Austria. Hiding behind the ancient stone walls is some very modern audiovisual equipment.

The City Hall that governs the state of Tyrol, where Hall in Tirol lies, turned to J. Klausner Professional Multimedia, an Innsbruck based integrator, to carry out the installation of interactive multimedia classrooms. The publicly funded school serves approximately 200 pupils aged between six and ten.

Edwin Klausner, of J. Klausner, oversaw the project that covered eight classrooms. He said there was no tender process, instead the school and City Hall turned to J. Klausner because of its experience in installations in educational environments.

“There was no tender,” said Klausner. “We kitted out the first secondary school in Austria and, following that we’ve worked on many more. We have a lot of background and experience in this area and that was the reason why we were selected.”

He continued: “The installation covered eight classrooms and we installed it over four days. We only had from Thursday to Sunday and on the Monday the pupils all returned to school after their holiday.”

The installed equipment includes eight Promethian ActivBoards and eight Toshiba ew25 widescreen projectors. The ActivBoards come with ActivInspire Software, which is designed for primary school children aged between six and ten. At 225x125cm, the 95” ActivBoard exceeds the size of the former blackboard. Klausner says he opted for the Toshiba widescreen projectors because they offered a future-proof 16:10 format and would deliver a good image quality. The LAN connection on the Toshiba projectors enables relevant persons to identify the functional state of all eight machines at a glance. In addition, the projectors automatically send an email if a lamp reaches the end of its lifecycle in 100 hours and generates an alarm if a projector is removed from the network. This is a useful feature for projectors installed in any public space. Detailed information, like the current operational state, settings and total service hours can also be accessed. Furthermore, the LAN enables the selection of individual screen contents from pupil’s computers and transmits them to the ActivBoard via the projector.

Klausner says by programming control of this system into an Extron MLC104 IP Plus control panel, teachers are provided with intuitive and easy operation. He programmed pause, freeze, mute and picture mute functions into the control panel. Pause mutes the sound and hides the image if the class is interrupted for a short period. The freeze button will freeze the picture for a while and is designed to allow the teacher more time to carry out a task, for example search for another document. Mute will mute the sound and picture mute will hide the picture. Furthermore the control panel incorporates a control dial for volume control.

Speakers, manufactured by German company WHD, provide sound reinforcement in all eight classrooms. Klausner says the downwards-emitting speaker systems offer impressive and powerful music reproduction with a rich tone volume. One of the reasons he chose the particular brand is because they provide clear speech playback – particularly useful in foreign language classes. The integrated Calypso CA-1000 mixer-amplifier, with RS232 interface, used in every room offers four audio inputs, one stereo-speaker output and an additional headphone output. Input four can be configured as a priority input and is used for announcements and the break signal. In case of an announcement, the volume of the current transmission is reduced and increased again two seconds after the end of the announcement. Not only does this eliminate the need for an additional bell system and dedicated speakers for announcements, it also offers a more efficient system with the priority function. The sound system is also used for evacuation purposes and a Calypso smart block AV (power control) eliminates standby power consumption when equipment is not in use.

Anyma height adjusters allow the whiteboards to be moved to optimised height for both teacher and pupils. Lateral support provides maximum stability even when working in boarder areas, and the projector support minimises vibrations.

This particular set-up, that J. Klausner deploys in schools throughout Austria, was developed by Forum Innovative Unterrichtsmethoden, loosely translated as the Forum of Interactive Teaching Methods. This is an alliance of selected companies and educational establishments that report to the BildungOnline forum. This forum, managed by Professor Harald De Zottis focuses on the implementation and presentation of school-related IT projects.

Actually fixing this equipment to the school’s walls proved quite tricky. Klausner explains: “It is a very old school that goes back to the Middle Ages and we had a problem with the old walls. They are stone, not concrete and it’s not very easy to fix equipment to them.” Undeterred Klausner’s team obviated the problem, opting for a solution that involved literally gluing the equipment to the walls. “We used glue from a company called Hilti, which has special solutions for fixing things on walls. We actually glued the products to the walls – for example we glued the Anyma pylons to the walls.”

Klausner said Austrian national public service provider, ORF, picked up the installation and sent a camera crew to the school. “They covered the installation and broadcast it on television because it was the first installation for a primary school in Austria,” he proudly explains. He continues to say it is the first of many. “The Government is putting a lot of money towards installations in schools in Austria at the moment. It started the funding last year and will continue this year. They want all schools to be equipped with interactive multimedia classrooms by next year.”

This has resulted in a flood of business opportunities for J. Klausner which has gone on to implement the solution in various other primary schools throughout Austria. Klausner recently turned his attention to a primary school in Mils, east of Innsbruck. A classroom set-up, very similar to that used at nearby Hall in Tirol, has been implemented at the Volksschule Mils. In addition a voice announcement system from German manufacturer RCS was installed. Priority circuits in classrooms are realised with the Calypso amplifier CA-1000. The amplifier has four inputs. “We are using input two for the PC, input three for a laptop and input four as a priority input for voice announcements, the bell or alarm system,” explained Klausner.

Now J. Klausner has become synonymous with educational installations in Austria and more specifically the Tyrol region the contracts are rolling in. And, as the Government strives to reach its target of equipping every Austrian school with interactive equipment there’s no let-up for J. Klausner in sight.

Tech-Spec

Audio

Calypso CA1050 amplifiers and smart blocks
WHD design-loudspeakers


Video
Anyma height adjustments
Extron MLC104 controllers
Promethean ActivBoards
Toshiba ew25 projectors