Alabama Community College System leverages Q-SYS to widen access to education

[De] - Established in 1925, the Alabama Community College System (ACCS) is Alabama’s gateway to world-class, affordable education and technical training. The system consists of twenty-four community and technical colleges, including the Alabama Technology Network and Marion Military Institute, and services more than 168,000 people per year.

Recently, ACCS embarked on an ambitious upgrade of their system-wide distance learning facilities, with the goal of creating high-value hybrid spaces to be leveraged by in-person and distance learners alike. In the end, that meant a transformation of over seventy-four rooms across all ACCS campuses. They partnered with The ESB Group for design and installation, who quickly selected QSC as their solution provider. “We knew we needed a repeatable design that was very user-friendly. The faculty are the main users of these rooms, and some are less technically savvy than others,” explains Drew Breland, Solutions Architect/Design Engineer of The ESB Group. “Q-SYS being software-centric allowed us to customize a user experience that is geared toward them, support any web conferencing solution they might bring to the table, and be platform-agnostic so we can adjust to any future requirements.”

But with seventy-four rooms, the team required a standardized approach. To support the classroom’s remote student collaboration capabilities, Q-SYS allows for a single, driverless USB connection to integrate Q-SYS audio and video into whichever web conferencing application faculty members favor, via the team’s chosen Core – a Q-SYS Core 110f integrated processor. This was the first step to creating a repeatable system for each classroom, which was continued with the choice of a ceiling-mounted Q-SYS PTZ-IP conference camera to achieve full visual room coverage. Accompanying the camera were a pair of QSC AcousticCoverage Series two-way loudspeakers as well as a QSC MP-A Series multi-channel amplifier for promote high quality far-end audio.

Saving the time, cost, and frustration associated with troubleshooting untested network switches also remained a high priority. To address the challenge, they added in a Q-SYS NS Series Network Switch. This provides a pre-configured solution that supports Q-LAN, AES67 and Dante audio streams in addition to Q-LAN video streaming and distribution, simultaneously within the same VLAN.

As the room would be leveraged by a variety of individuals, each with their own level of technical literacy, a Q-SYS Touch Screen Controller, paired with a Q-SYS UCI Deployment license, allowed the team to create and deploy custom user control interfaces (UCI) and varying degrees of automation. This enabled faculty to start up their room, and once a meeting is launched, control the volume, content and cameras.

This overall Q-SYS alignment gave ACCS several advantages: easy troubleshooting, a single training investment in one software design tool rather than needing to learn several platforms, and utility that continues to develop over time via software upgrades. All of this results in ACCS being able to provide better education opportunities to those who would otherwise not be able to access high-quality resources. And that really is a win.

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