Keio University Graduate School of Media Design (KMD); Kanagawa Prefecture

Keio University Hiyoshi Campus located in front of Hiyoshi Station on the Tokyu Toyoko Line, offering a view of the beautiful ginkgo trees. Yamaha's one-stop sound solution for teleconferencing, ADECIA, was installed in two classrooms at the Keio University Graduate School of Media Design (KMD) the base for the Kyosei-kan on that campus. Today, we spoke with Dr. Hideki Sunahara PhD., a professor at the Keio University Graduate School of Media Design, and Shoko Kitano, Saki Maruyama, and Haruna Tomita, from denON Engineering, Systems Division, which was in charge of the design and construction of the system.

Thanks to the installation of ADECIA, both students in the classroom and those who attend remotely, can participate in discussions, Q&A, and group work in real-time regardless of their location.

● Would you kindly give us an overview of the Graduate School of Media Design at Keio University?
Dr. Sunahara:
Keio University Graduate School of Media Design (KMD) was founded in 2008 with the mission of training media innovators who have the ability to generate innovations and to create value for society. In our classes, we use practical activities we call real projects as a focus of my curriculum. These are geared so that students will acquire the various literacies needed by global leaders in future society. Due to the diversity of our students in age and nationality, we conduct our classes in both English and Japanese as the official languages. Our classroom facilities also support both online classes as well as hybrid learning environment.

Would you kindly describe how you came to learn about the remote conferencing system ADECIA?
Dr. Sunahara:
Although we were determined to provide a hybrid learning environment, I don’t think you could say that we were prepared with tools to achieve that goal. For that reason, we wanted to improve the completeness of our hybrid environment. I have been collaborating with Yamaha on network products from before, so when I talked to Yamaha about our setting up a remote learning environment, they told me about this remote conference system. I went to see it immediately when they were ready to give me a demonstration.

● Would you describe how your previous classes went before ADECIA was installed?
Dr. Sunahara:
Originally, KMD classrooms were equipped with PA equipment. Since the start of KMD, all classes have been recorded and archived. However, only the voice of the teacher who is holding the microphone is recorded, and none of the students’ questions or their comments given during discussions were recorded. In an attempt to remedy this situation somehow, we have implemented a variety of solutions, and combined various types of equipment. However, operations were complicated and it was impossible to build a system that could be handled by all teachers. That was a major challenge we faced before we had ADECIA installed.
● Have you considered ceiling microphones other than ADECIA?
Dr. Sunahara:
We had a microphone from a Western manufacturer, so we considered which of those products to adopt. The main reason for choosing Yamaha was the high reliability of the microphone speakers in the conferencing system that we have been using. Of course, we also have a rather deep relationship in our collaborative research with Yamaha. In the end, we checked the quality using the demo, and decided to install it after deciding that it would be adequate for our purposes.
It has been 3 months since you actually installed the system. Can you describe your impressions when you actually used ADECIA?
Dr. Sunahara:
We have about five students in the classroom, and several who participate remotely. There is much talking, but it's perfect. Previously, we always had a problem in that students who participate remotely couldn’t hear the voices of students who were asking questions in the classroom, but this problem was solved with ADECIA. In addition, we recently conducted an examination in a hybrid environment composed of students in the classroom and students at remote locations. The examination went very well, thanks to ADECIA. I use it for various other classes and events, and I am able to employ the system as expected.

Thanks to RM-CG's high-precision multi-beam tracking, installation is efficient and eliminates the troublesome task of making pre-settings.

● From here, I would like to hear the opinions of employees of denON Engineering who were responsible for designing and installing the remote conferencing system. Would you kindly describe the background to installing ADECIA.
Ms. Kitano:
We had Dr. Sunahara select the model they wanted to adopt, so we first asked to be shown the classroom where the system was to be installed, and we assumed the location of installation and how many units we would need. Up to now, we have had cases of installing one or two ceiling microphones. However, this was the first time for us to install four or six ceiling array RM-CG microphones in one room.

Dr. Sunahara:
The large classroom (C3S02) in which we installed six RM-CGs can hold up to 100 people before the coronavirus pandemic hit. Today, we try to keep the number of students down to around 40 to maintain social distancing in light of the coronavirus pandemic. The lecture theater (C3S01) is where we installed four other RM-CGs. Before the coronavirus pandemic, this classroom held 60 people, but since the coronavirus pandemic, we keep the number of students down to around 30.

● I get the impression that having four or six units installed in each classroom is a lot. Is that how many units you need?
Ms. Kitano:
We arrive at the number of units required not from the number of students in a classroom, but in light of the range for picking up voices using the ceiling microphones. Since both classrooms are quite large and frequently students are encouraged to engage in discussions and group work as well as to listen to lectures, we thought it will be essential to be able to collect sound properly from every corner of the room.
● Can you describe the installation of ADECIA?
Ms. Kitano:
For typical ceiling microphones, it is necessary to set the directionality and the area where the sound is collected in advance. However, the RM-CG ceiling-array microphone of ADECIA is equipped with a multi-beam tracking feature that automatically tracks speakers. For that reason, it is easy to adjust without the trouble of having to make advance settings. After installation, we check from various areas in the classroom, but the system picks up voices reliably. I know that the multi-beam tracking feature of RM-CG is accurate.
● Can you describe some of the easier points of construction, and some of the difficulties you faced?
Ms. Maruyama:_DSC3959.jpg
With regard to construction, construction of the RM-CG can be completed using a single LAN cable for power and audio transmission. For that reason, it is rather easy and trouble-free to wire the system. The difficulties we faced for KMD was that not only did they want a remote conferencing system, but the system was also required to have a voice-enhancing feature. For that reason, there were many points where we needed to adjust the volume of the voice for lectures, for remote listeners when using ZOOM or the like, and the volume of the audio to be sent for the video conferences. It was difficult to attain the best volume balance for each different purpose of use.

● Would you please describe your management of the construction work?
Ms. Tomita:
Originally, the room’s ceiling had few inspection openings. For that reason, it was difficult to find places where we could avoid interfering with the mounting position, the existing lines and pipes. That part of the work was rather difficult, but the installation itself is not at all difficult. We also set up the system to be able to link video conferencing and ZOOM.

Attains superior operability that anyone can immediately handle using an iPad's simple, easy-to-use touch panel

● Having used ADECIA, did you find anything unexpected?
Dr. Sunahara:
The interface of the iPad DenON Engineering developed for us works very well. All settings can be implemented on an iPad. It is simple and you can quickly do whatever you want. I think the interface is easy to handle for anyone. You can do what you need to do very easily. I only said that you can do as you like, so I think that denON Engineering had a hard time, but thanks to their hard work, we now have a very good system.
Ms. Kitano:
We created the interface using with Yamaha's custom control-panel software, ProVisionaire. The design of the screen was created using ProVisionaireTouch. It is easy to see that it is turned on, and the meters increase the visibility of the input.

● What kinds of impressions are you hearing from students who participate in classes remotely, after having actually used the system?
Dr. Sunahara:
My students have been telling me that they are very happy to be able to hear the other students’ voices clearly in the classroom at their remote location. There are many students who are taking courses remotely. If they are unable clearly to hear the sounds and voices in the classroom, they will feel severely alienated by that. However, with ADECIA, they are able clearly to hear even the voices of students who do not speak up clearly. We have students who speak with a soft voice, and those who speak loudly, but you can hear all of their voices quite normally. This gives everyone the feeling of being present. I am very happy that we decided to go with ADECIA.

● The remote-learning environment has really improved, then I think.
Dr. Sunahara:
Yes, it has. After all, classroom work is all about sound. The quality of the sound dramatically changes the atmosphere of the lesson. If the sound is poor during a 90-minute online class, students will slowly lose interest in listening. I think it is really unpleasant if the sound being delivered to students online is broken or distorted. Conversely, if the sound is superior, like what we get using ADECIA, I think students will continue feeling like they want to participate online. Ultimately, the quality of sound is directly related to the sense of being there, and sharing. The core of the KMD’s curriculum, the Real Project, is centered around the practical activities conducted by my students. From that point of view, I think we have attained a very important step forward in the environment in that students in the classroom and students who participate remotely can connect with each other with good sound quality and engage in meaningful discussions that allow everyone to feel as though they are present.

Thank you all very much for your taking time today to speak with us despite your busy schedules.