Victoria University (VU) is one of Australia’s few dual-sector universities combining higher education and vocational education. It achieved university status in 1991, though its preceding institutions date back to 2016. In recent years, VU has repeatedly ranked in the top 2% of universities worldwide. Today, over 40,000 students study at its seven campuses. The VU City Tower campus, which opened in 2022 in the heart of Melbourne’s central business district, offers both higher education and vocational learning, from practical TAFE certificates through to PhDs. Undergraduate and diploma students study with the award-winning VU Block Model, learning in interactive, workshop-style classes and completing one subject at a time.
The 32-floor VU City Tower was built to consolidate three pre-existing VU city-based buildings into one vertical campus. The plans called for varied dynamic and interactive learning spaces, including purpose-built practical classrooms and clinics, informal learning spaces, and collaboration spaces of different sizes.
The audio-visual system in the new campus needed to support the VU Block Model, which is very focused on interactive, collaborative, industry-based problem-solving. The fundamental requirement was wireless presentation capabilities that would support formal and informal learning. With that, the key factors were the streaming rates and how smooth the audio and video transition would be when presenting from varied devices, including laptops and mobile phones.
Although Victoria University was already a very-satisfied, long-time user of Kramer AV products, it conducted a review of available products before ultimately choosing Kramer VIA solutions for its new campus.
“We benchmarked against other devices to see what else it could bring to the table,” recalls Kieran Parboo, Client Services & AV Coordinator, Victoria University. “What we found is Kramer had an extensive range of options within the device itself that we could manage as a university, but also offer to academics to use to enable their teaching. And that’s where we came to the solution.”
VU installed a total of about 400 VIA presentation devices in the new VU City Tower. These are in addition to approximately 200 VIA devices installed on various other VU campuses. VIA Connect Plus enables simultaneous wired and wireless presentation and collaboration, and VIA GO2 provides a compact and secure device for 4K wireless presentation.
The VIA solution is a hit with VU City Tower administrators, teaching staff and students.
With the VIA display on the screens in the collaboration-style rooms, students are able to get started on collaborative work with ease. Kieran explains: “They simply walk up, enter the IP address, enter the code, and away they go. It allows students to collaborate independently, and then cast that around the room as required.”
According to Kirsten Jeffery, Project Director, Victoria University City Tower, the response to the collaboration capabilities supported by the new campus has been overwhelmingly positive. “The students are loving the experience here in the building, just in terms of discovery of spaces and the enablement of their formal and informal learnings. They’re very, very grateful and very appreciative for the quality, and, I think, the fit-for-purpose customized spaces.”
She also notes, “It’s terrific that we are able to showcase that commitment to students, and providing them with a quality education, surrounded by customized contemporary purpose-built facilities.”
With hundreds of VIA devices installed across the campus, the VIA Site Management (VSM) platform has proved critical to the AV services team’s day to day work. Kieran explains: “We use it not only for the management side to see if things are on or off or in a different state. We also use it for digital signage. We can also enable applications or disable applications. So, we have that full management flexibility with that platform, and it’s critical to us.”
When asked about the experience of working with Kramer, Kieran is unequivocable. “The relationship with Kramer is a very long one. It’s before my time here at the university, and I’ve been here for 12 years. And they’ve been a big part of the university since the early 2000s. The lecture theaters are possibly 10, 15 years old, and these devices just keep running 24/7 without fail. They definitely stand the test of time.”
The next steps toward that future are already underway. With just under 600 VIA presentation devices now installed throughout VU, the university is planning to install additional VIA devices when it adds new collaboration-style rooms across the campuses later in the year.