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Other news - Monday, 26 April, 2021

Science and education with smart technologies - what is the new educational technology system of the UPMS capable of?

The new theoretical building of the UPMS offers the most modern educational environment of the University of Pécs for both teachers and students. Its core and at the same time the most important element is the audio-visual system, the expected capabilities of which - based on the educational peculiarities of the Medical School – have been compiled by experts and Interton Kft., one of the most experienced companies in this field in the Hungarian market, cooperated in the implementation. The compilation reveals based on what needs and experience has the technical content been established and what the teachers and students can expect from it in practice.

 

Written by Gábor Szabó

 

"Our joint story with UPMS started in 2018" - says Ferenc Koscsó, an expert at Interton Kft. “Due to the peculiarities of public procurement procedures, one should see the future for 5-6 years ahead, so in this case, we tried exactly that as well. We have compiled the technical equipment based on projects such as the classrooms suitable for complete streaming at the doctoral school of the Magyar Nemzeti Bank, which our company has also developed.”

Connection to curriculum development

“One of the most prominent elements of the system is archiving and managing the accessibility of archived items. An archiving is just as successful based on the experience as a video and its content can be retrieved from metadata. As in our project mentioned earlier, this is a system that can be supplemented with the possibility of the so-called speech to text conversion. This is not included in the current development, but it can be added later at any time; this allows presentations to be converted into easily searchable texts. In the frame of the project, our task was to develop an ultra-HD system for the four largest lecture halls that can partially or fully serve future needs - such as those caused by a pandemic unforeseen at the time. Supplementing the current communication solutions, the system is able to record presentations in almost television quality and make them searchable with the help of the archiving system” - Ferenc Koscsó points out.

“With so-called PTZ cameras and up to four mobile cameras in the lecture halls from four locations at the same time, from the two 96-person and the two 336-person lecture halls we will be able to produce live stream from UHD / 25p (3840x2160 pixel image size, 25p frame rate) quality images even from multiple cameras or video sources, supplemented with subtitles and replays, and to encode, forward to streaming servers and record them locally for archiving purposes. The internal video format of the system will be the so-called 6G SDI format (according to the UHD / 25 p format), but we will also produce and use its IP-based so-called NDI version. The system will include two complete video editing systems with local 64TB storages, and an archiving, converting, transcoding system with a gross capacity of 72TB. The archiving system also includes an internal web server that provides web access to metadata entry and retrieval for those authorised. To facilitate web access, we also automatically generate a lower resolution (720p25), much lower bitrate (3 Mbps) version of the UHD recordings. However, we do not deliver a streaming server, i.e. we do not provide access to the outside world and the university's internal system, this must be done through the university's IT system. The outlined system, on the other hand, produces the necessary streams for this, simultaneously even in several formats, compression and resolution according to the needs that arise” - he introduces the technical details.

“The streaming system is basically video-centric, but it can assign all kinds of metadata to the recordings: these data can be generated naturally, at the time of the recording of the video, data from camera interface, control, timing, and parts of the implementation are a room reservation and an archiving system as well, which also assigns certain information to a lecture based on the timetable. Of course, links - as external data sources - can also be added to the videos, which is a completely basic ability of these advanced solutions. These can be linked as a marker to a specific frame or even to the entire video, so for example, the link takes the student to a 3D illustration while watching the video of the lecture. Of course, this data is also searchable and, if necessary, can be displayed in several places, so that it can be accessed in several ways through the search engine of the archiving system. The system also includes four 4K resolution camcorders, which are ANG recording sets at the same time, together with two high-performance lighting systems. Two cutter and editing systems are also part of the set (two iMacs running the DaVinci Resolve video editing programme), so the technological conditions for continuous, in-house production are also provided” - says the expert.

A very important part of the archiving system is the software package that serves all this. The licenses allow the entry of metadata using five different remote workstations at the same time, meaning that in practice five projects will be able to run side by side in a way that processing is not carried out from the control or the archive. It will also include a conversion platform that will allow the upgrade of old or low-quality materials (even VHS) using artificial intelligence so that we will be able to bring them into a UHD-quality environment. This can mean state-of-the-art technology for years to come and can be extended to the direction of later developments and special projects as well.

What about the old lecture halls?

The question may rightly arise, how will all this relate to the existing educational technology background? Will there be good and less good lecture halls? Fortunately, this is out of the question because the leadership of the School decided at an early stage to develop all the existing educational technology capacity of the UP Medical School to the same level in parallel with the construction of the new building. As we learned from our audio-visual expert asked to perform this task, János Hauer, the lecture halls of the old theoretical building will receive the same technologies, we hope, within a year. This means that all educational units will have the same high-level technical opportunities, regardless of the building in which they will hold their classes. The Medical School is allocating about HUF 800 million for this modernisation.

Technology is always only as useful as we are able to take advantage of it

Fortunately, this will not be a problem. Obviously, the new things need to be mastered, for which the company installing the equipment provides training, first to the staff of the Department for Technical Support of Education and then to the institutes. After that, the Medical School will not be left without support either, as the experts will help get to know and learn the new possibilities. However, things do not stop here yet because - as the description may have already revealed in part - this system provides a unique opportunity to involve new, innovative technologies that primarily serve to enhance the teaching and learning experience. Interactive 3D contents, 3D models, edited or real-time 3D or annotated, so-called diacom recordings will be able to be incorporated into direct or distant educational processes according to the plans, and many more things too, such as the relevant parts of our currently developed digital learning materials in a clear, easily searchable way.

One of the main points of PotePillars, the Medical School’s strategy, is the development of the learning culture (closely linked to the concept of well-being and the built environment) that wants to shape the process of education and research into twenty-first century, experience-oriented, efficient, and convenient processes by combining forward-looking technologies and the ergonomic, people-centred built environment. To enhance the student experience, the School has also established a dedicated working group that works in close cooperation with our educational development projects, such as PotePedia, dedicated to digital learning material and content development. The goal is to find and combine high-tech solutions developed in-house, such as real-time 3D broadcast of surgical procedures (M3DVision), as well as advanced technologies used by others (such as medical-laboratory technology robotics) with the capabilities of our educational environment to be renewed.

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