Things That Stick

shure wireless mxw next 2

In higher ed, we see fads in technology and pedagogical methods on a regular basis. These may last for a few years and then adapt, or wear off completely. During the pandemic, we certainly saw our fair share of changes in order to accommodate for the craziness going on in the world. A few years out, I have noticed that many things have gone back to normal, but a few things have stuck around.

One change that has stuck around in classrooms and meeting spaces is the use of microphones. Going back five years, we were pushing people to use microphones all the time to accommodate for anyone who had hearing difficulties, and to generally give everyone a positive experience. It was a hard sell, and people would often ignore the mic even if it was being passed around. In classrooms, only the professors assigned to the largest rooms would use a microphone. Today we see people waiting for the mic, asking others to use it if they are not, and perhaps the biggest change — we see them using it properly (not holding it down around their stomach!).

The prevalent use of masks during the pandemic, along with the hybrid and flipped classroom environment drove the use of mics to be a requirement at all times. I am happy to see that this is something that has stuck. All rooms today get a microphone of some sort for the hybrid or recording needs, and all except the smallest have those tied into the sound system for reinforcement.

Shure won a rAVe [PUBS] Best of ISE Award in February for “Best New Product for the Higher Ed Market” with its MXW neXt 2 Wireless Microphone System. This product is a perfect example of a company listening and paying attention to the needs of its customers. There are a number of great features about this product, but for the higher ed market, the best feature is the ability to sync with the press of a button.

To better understand the incredible value of this, you have to understand the higher education environment. We have dozens to hundreds of classrooms spread across our campus. Wired microphones may be used at a lectern or podium but most of our presenters and professors want to walk around the space. This leaves us with hundreds of wireless microphones “floating” around. People stuff them in their bags, forget they are wearing them and leave them in the wrong places. There are numerous horror stories, and funny stories of people taking mics with them and not realizing it, or picking one up in the wrong space and not realizing they are speaking to another room. With this system you can simply put the microphone into any base, press a button and it syncs to that base. No more trying to find what room has the missing microphone, or replacing a microphone and having to manually match up the channels. Additionally, this button press automatically finds open channels and avoids interference. The need for this becomes even more critical as the frequency space gets crunched by the increasing number of wireless microphones we are adding. In larger schools the balancing act of finding open frequencies is becoming a real challenge.

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With these features in mind, it is not only easy to sync up a mic you found in any space, it is also very easy for the AV support team to have a number of spares on hand, charged and ready to go in case there is a problem (like a missing mic or a dead mic). They can walk into the room, plug it in, press the button and then hand the mic to the professor.

While this product certainly improves the classroom experience for faculty and students, it also makes the lives of the AV support team much, much easier. Any tool that allows us to fix a classroom problem in a matter of minutes is a tool we will put all over our campuses.