What Were The Greatest Distance Learning Tools of 2018?

Distance learning tools have become a reality for students as young as elementary age. At the college and high school level, distance learning has become commonplace as a way for students to have more flexible schedules and effectively combine their home and work obligations with their education commitments.

Between 1998 and 2008, the number of college students opting into distance education has grown by 150%. The Instructional Technology Council reports that two-thirds (64%) of full-time faculty and one-third (35%) of part-time faculty at community colleges now teach distance education classes. According to the U.S. Department of Education, by the year 2020 it is projected that about 1 in 5 undergraduate students will receive as much as 80% of their education through online courses.

With the rapid demand and availability of online learning, it follows that helping students experience and manage distance learning tools in preparation for their college education and careers is important.

These are the 5 top distance learning tools of 2017.

iTunes U: Apple has been a long-time staple in the education community. iTunes U is no exception. It has an intuitive interface that people have come to expect from Apple products. It allows educators to load their teaching materials into the system and create lessons and assignments. It allows educators to pull interactive content from iTune’s library of apps, podcasts, and videos into one interactive lesson plan. Students then get access to assignments and complete and submit them online. iTunes U includes a grade management tool that collects assignments into a clean digital interface and then allows teachers to grade them on their apple device. Educators can see analytics for individual students and assignments, and the entire class. It’s a remarkable ecosystem for digital course management for grade school or college level instruction.

SmartBuilder: SmartBuilder is an online course authoring product for educators. It’s streamlined for 100% e-learning. SmartBuilder is used by many companies for training purposes, and has a reputation for being user friendly. The interface is easy to navigate and is compatible with Windows or Mac. The system allows users to build templates, which is convenient for setting up multiple courses with a consistent theme. The system allows in-built testing/quizzing but does not have an interface for general assignment submission. This system is preferred for course content delivery and testing.

edX: edX was developed in 2012 by Harvard University and MIT as an online learning environment for universities. Today it offers over 1,300 courses with more than 10 million students enrolled. It’s a great training ground for high school students to supplement their classroom education and get their feet wet with distance learning. With courses covering nearly every subject from biology to graphic design, there is content that can enhance just about any course.

Scrible: Scrible is an online collaboration platform that allows students to interact and share content and participate together in learning and project planning. The platform allows for real time notes, comments, and annotations to be shared with the group. It’s a wonderful tool for collaborative research and projects.

Dropbox: Dropbox is already well-known and widely used in the business world, but its features are great for education as well. Dropbox is a cloud based storage system. In addition to having folders where students can download course materials or upload documents, it also allows for real time editing and collaboration. Groups can work on a document together with everyone’s notes and edits tracked within the online interface. Educators and students can also share documents one-on-one for individualized feedback and revisions. This is a staple that can make receiving assignments – particularly written assignments and graphics – much easier.

Barco Clickshare Wireless Presentation for Your Business

The Barco Clickshare wireless presentation system is a type of gadget that makes it possible for business professionals to wirelessly and seamlessly present content from a smartphone, tablet, or PC onto a bigger screen. This is done through the use of Barco’s screen mirroring technology. Barco’s Clickshare Wireless Presentation System is ideal for use in various collaborative environments, e.g., huddle spaces, meeting rooms, and conference rooms.

What Is the Barco Clickshare Wireless-Presentation System Used for and Why Should You Get One?

These systems play an integral role when it comes to sharing information among people working on the same project. They make it possible for their users to transmit various types of content (apps, videos, images, docs, and desktop) together with audio from all types of devices to TV’s, video walls, large displays, and projectors. As a result, many users are able to seamlessly exchange, share, and present ideas. The systems can be used with a broad range of applications, e.g.,

  • Enabling unrestricted interaction between various users through the sharing of content on a shared screen.
  • Mirroring or streaming audio and video content from any device onto a projector or bigger screen.
  • Connecting a tablet, smartphone, or desktop PC to a TV wirelessly.

Where Can You Use A Wireless Presentation System?

This particular type of presentation systems allows video/audio collaboration in places such as:

What are the Advantages of Using the Barco Clickshare Wireless Presentation System?

  1. Multi-Platform Devices
    The system is plug-and-play friendly. This means that the system can easily be used with any projector or display device for quick presentation. You can use any device to display the content that you would like to present.
  2. Multi-User Collaboration
    Multiple people are able to access the system at the same time. This helps provide a simple and smooth wireless presentation capability for all those involved. It is a system that is able to provide great interactivity, making it ideal for use in open-forum discussions as well as in conference rooms, regardless of their size.
  3. Long-Range Connectivity (Wireless)
    Unlike wired presentation systems, this type of presentation system is able to cover a very broad signal range. This means that it can even be used in very large rooms, making it possible for those using it to showcase their presentations over distances of up to ninety meters.
  4. Streaming Over Wi-Fi, LAN or Dual Network Modes
    Wireless systems are capable of supporting Wi-Fi (wireless) and LAN (cabled) deployments. This is in addition to supporting dual network modes. For example, company personnel can connect to the systems via the corporate networks as the invited guests connect to it via the wireless network. This can easily be done without compromising the internal corporate network. This kind of connection is very useful, especially when the presentation system has been connected to the corporate network via Ethernet, and the invited guests are asked to join the employees in a collaborative project.
  5. It is Mobile and Compact
    One of the standout features of this system is the fact that it is very slim and compact. This makes it easier to move it from one room to another as it can easily be mounted behind a projector or a display screen.Even though the system will require a cable connection to the power socket, network, and to the display, all those who will be using it will be connected wirelessly. This means that they will be spared from all the unnecessary clutter.
  6. VGA and HDMI Compatible
    Whereas legacy interfaces are still popular in corporate environments, it is always better to choose a presentation system that can offer both digital (DVI or HDMI) and analog (VGA) interfaces. HDMI displays are considered to be the most effective as they can easily match with the source’s definition.

Interesting in learning more? Reach out to a CCS representative today!

The Emphasis of AV Integration in the Initial Stages of Design

When building your business, there’s a lot of different things you will have to consider. After the funding, location, and direction have been gauged, that’s when the physical building of your business begins.

One of the biggest pieces that companies usually overlook is the first impression they give to potential clients. In the past, companies just had simple paintings or inspirational slogans in their respective reception areas. And while that approach has a traditional, vintage feel, that style really fails to showcase the modern technologies and accomplishments that a modern business has.

With the new era of modern AV integration, companies now have the ability to wow potential clients or customers before they even have to speak with them. The use of digital signage and interactive kiosks help clients see the history or direction of a company, allowing them to reinforce their decision to pick your business before anyone else’s. Even something as simple as a crawl that show’s the day’s weather or top stories sends the message that you’re plugged into the world around you and keeping pace with everything modern.

And thanks to modern wireless technologies, AV integration has never been easier. Hanging a lightweight flat screen TV at eye level with a thin-client computer that can be controlled by your company’s IT department can help peak your cleint’s interest. With motion sensor equipped wireless speakers, you can easily help your client find their way around your office as they enter.

As I mentioned before, modern technology makes AV integration simple. There are no cables to be run across the office, just the worry about where to place the outlets. The low level of input needed gives both the contractor (who is building the building) and the business (who is renting or owning the building) the freedom to make an aesthetically pleasing room without having to put too much thought into exactly where all of the digital parts and pieces will go.

Investing in an AV welcoming experience will help take your business to the next level.

10 Reasons Your Business Needs A Unified Communications Solution

Effective communications strategies are essential to running a business. Unfortunately, many business owners have not unified their systems, therefore they struggle with all the different forms of communication that they need to work with. If a business uses one system in its boardroom and another in a different area, it’s going to run into problems.

The following points are 10 reasons why a business can benefit from a unified communications solution

  1. Only one system to manage
    When a company’s communication systems are not unified, there are several different systems that need to be managed at once. This means the moderator needs to master multiple platforms rather than just one. With a unified system, there is only one system that managers, staff, and especially IT teams will need to handle.
  2. Makes it easier for staff to collaborate
    It’s important that staff members can easily collaborate, especially when working on team projects or goals. A unified system will make it easy for staff to not only communicate via phone, text, or email but also share documents with one another. It can also make it easier for IT staff to quickly set up a conference room before a group event.
  3. You’ll be ready when disaster strikes
    A unified communications system is especially important when an unexpected disaster occurs that requires quick and easy communication between staff to solve the issue. In the case of an outage or related issue, cloud-based unified communications systems will still be functioning, allowing the office to continue working, while other companies without this system may not be able to.
  4. It boosts productivity
    A unified system tends to make it significantly faster for staff members to get in touch with one another when they need to, inevitably boosting productivity. In addition, employees will always know which communications service to refer to for sending the messages they need, making processes efficient and timely.
  5. Improves the scalability of a business
    Scalability is important for growth at any company. A unified communications system aids in reaching this goal. Without a unified system, it can be difficult to make calculations on your communications costs because you are using a variety of different systems. Having one makes planning and projecting for future growth less challenging and more accurate.
  6. Helps out employees who need to work remotely
    Unified communications solutions are especially important for companies with employees that work remotely. With a unified solution, remote employees will be able to easily refer to voicemail, emails, and other types of messages even when they’re not at the office. They will also be able to conveniently take part in events in your conference room via video conferencing.
  7. Brings communication costs down
    It usually costs less to pay for communications services when you’ve opted for a single unified solution. Buying all of your equipment from the same provider usually leads to discounts. Costs will also remain predictable for the future when you work with one unified service provider.
  8. Speeds up internal communication
    Employees will find it easier to communicate internally with a unified system that staff members are universally trained on. This is especially true when it comes to meetings or events at your company.
  9. Helps to keep up with competition
    Unified systems have already been widely adopted by other companies. Having a unified strategy in place can make it easier for you to stay competitive in the marketplace.
  10. Improves the security of a work facility
    Security is enhanced with a unified system. It will offer backup storage for communication data and can make it easier to address any data breaches that occur.

Interested in learning more? Contact a CCS Representative today!

Why You Should Use A More Expensive Commercial Display Instead of A “Smart TV”

For business owners looking to improve their visual presence, a logical solution is to invest in flatscreen video boards for the display of corporate information or other content. In many situations, especially for bar and restaurant owners, having high-definition screen capabilities is a necessity for attracting and retaining customers. But as a small business owner with a tight budget, you may be tempted to consider purchasing consumer-grade smart TVs for your facility in place of more expensive commercial displays. Although the cost savings can be substantial, the advantages of commercial displays must be considered for use in any professional environment.

Longer Lifespan

One of the primary reasons for choosing a commercial screen over a smart TV for your business is the expected lifespan of each display. Consumer televisions are not designed to run around the clock and will often suffer component fails after a few years of usage. This is because most home televisions are used for eight hours per day or less. On the other hand, commercial screens are expected to be capable of being run 24 hours a day and are manufactured to support consistent performance over extended periods of time.

Warranty and Support

Given the expectation of the lifespan for commercial screen displays, most models will come with extended warranties from the manufacturer. This will ultimately help you as a business owner save money, because instead of replacing the screen with a new one every few years, repairs will often be covered under the warranty or a separate service contract. Standard consumer TVs typically only come with a limited warranty for one year or less, which may not cover accidental damage or other issues with hardware. By entering into a service agreement with a commercial screen manufacturer, business owners can be assured that their displays will be operational for their full expected lifespan.

More Input Options

Consumer televisions are often available at low prices due to the limited amount of internal components they have. These devices often only allow for one or two HDMI inputs and few other options for connecting external sources. In contrast, commercial screen displays offer a wealth of ports in various configurations. Business owners can link their screens to computer displays or other video cables that support high-definition output. Some models of commercial screens even include wi-fi functionality, so that they can receive streamed content and be managed remotely. For example, this could allow a bar or restaurant owner to control all of their displays from a single piece of software and set up schedules of content that will rotate and update automatically.

High Performance Materials

By paying a premium for commercial-grade display screens, you as a business owner will be investing in professional materials that are built for long-lasting high performance. The physical casing of commercial screens is significantly more secure and robust than the typical consumer home television. These commercial devices are designed to be mounted in all sorts of environments and have internal heating and cooling components to be able to withstand different temperatures. The actual screen materials are also substantially stronger than normal TVs, as they have to be able to handle long hours of usage without burnout or other pixel problems.

Whether you are looking to set up new digital menu boards in your restaurant or simply want a place to display company announcements in your office, the smart choice is to invest in a commercial display screen rather than trusting a consumer television to do the job. Standard TVs will offer an upfront cost saving, but in the long run, a commercial screen will benefit you, your employees, and most importantly your customers.

Can’t I Use A Cheap Desktop Web Cam For My Conference Room?

In order to perform a quality conference call, you need to invest in a bit more than the camera built into a laptop, or even a cheap Web cam you have tucked away. There are other video conference tech options available out there, and you don’t need to pay an arm and leg for the right equipment. So whether you have it installed in your conference room or are looking take it with you, there are plenty of options available. However, here are a few of the reasons why you should not use a cheap desktop Web cam for video conferencing.

Video Specs

Just because a camera is marked as “High-Definition” does not mean it actually has the same video quality as your HD television. It may have the same lines of resolution, but many are not able to pick up the same color spectrum. Cheap cameras present a poor color spectrum. This will result in colors looking washed out and presentations not looking as crisp. While the resolution is good, the color range is just as important for a conference call.

Another important video spec is the frame rate. This is the number of times the image is captured in a given second. The standard film frame rate is 24 frames per second while a standard video is 30 frames per second. However, more and more video options are coming out with 60 frames per second, which provides an exceptionally clear video display. Cheap Web cameras often have lower frame rates, down around 10 to 15. This can make the video look jumpy. If you’ve ever watched a camera stream and it looked jumpy, it likely occurred either due to a poor Internet connection or a low frame rate.

Wide Angle

During a conference call, you’ll likely need to pick up multiple people at a single table. Standard cameras are not able to pick up this wide of an angle. Some cameras may have a handful of display options, but this might be digitally altered. You want an optically obtained wide angle. A digitally altered angle will cause a video to look pixelated, which will not help with the quality of your conference call.


Microphones on cheap cameras are terrible. There’s just no way around it. If the camera is even able to pick up the audio from the rest of the room it’ll sound muddled, higher frequencies will sound like static and low frequencies, if the microphone picks it up at all, will just sound like one tone. You will want a separate microphone configuration to improve the quality of your call. In fact, make sure to invest in a quality microphone setup on top of a quality camera as well. You want to put the best foot forward on conference calls, which you are not able to do with inferior products.

Lighting Options

You don’t always have many lighting options for your conference room. Inferior cameras will not do well in low light while others become washed out in brighter rooms. By investing in a quality camera it will be able to adjust to the light setting. Whether set to do this automatically or through manual settings, higher-end cameras can handle the different kinds of lighting configurations your conference room has.

Zoom Features

There are times you’ll want to zoom in during a presentation. With a cheap desktop camera, you won’t have any optical zoom options. This means it has to digitally enlarge the visual, causing it to pixelate. A quality video conferencing camera has optical zoom, which moves the camera lens closer, allowing you to avoid the pixelation.

Video conference calls have become an important part of modern business. While most computers now have cameras built into the screen this equipment is not beneficial for essential business calls. By putting more money into the camera equipment, you’ll drastically improve the overall quality of the video call, no matter where the other conference call member is located.

Chris de Treville Leading The New Tallahassee Office

Press Release

CCS Southeast is proud to announce that Chris de Treville will be leading the new Tallahassee office and will be focused on Western Florida and South Georgia markets. “We are very excited to have Chris join our team. Chris brings a tremendous amount of experience and his passion for serving customers is well known in our industry”, said John Doster, CEO CCS Southeast.

Chris de Treville formally account manager for AVI-SPL will assume the same duties for CCS Southeast in addition to coordinating the commercial growth of the Tallahassee office. Chris who graduated from Florida State University, brings over 23 years of experience in pro av, and over 31 years working within the low voltage and pro AV verticals.

CCS Southeast is headquartered in Jacksonville, FL with offices in Jacksonville, Orlando, Miami, Knoxville, Atlanta, GA, and Tallahassee.

New Office Location
Tallahassee Fl, 32312

Phone: 850-756-0377

5 Benefits of an LED Video Wall For Your Business

When you want to give your business space a more modern look to brand it, or to simply display your latest innovation, product or service, consider implementing a video wall!

The reality is that a video wall has the power to attract attention. It’s the perfect tool to have everyone in sync at the office as well as engage your audience.

An LED video wall will become the focal point of your entryway or lobby. Everyone is attracted to a big screen. This is your chance to get your message seen!

What are the main benefits of an LED video wall for your business?
Why should you consider using one?

#1: You Will Have Bright, Clear Images:

You might ask, why not use a projector and screen to display your message? While this is an option, it has its setbacks. Projectors can have problems with natural light and bright areas. Since video walls are often used as focal points in an office setting, you need the image to look its best, no matter the lighting condition.

#2: You Will Have Flexibility:

One of the main benefits of using a video wall is its sleek design. With a projector and screen setup, you need to use two separate locations to set it up – one for the screen, and one for the projector. Another benefit to video walls are that they allow flexibility in size and shape, something that may be more challenging with an alternative solution.

#3: They make changing content easy!

We briefly touched on the flexibility of an LED video wall, but the reality is that it goes even further. With video walls, you have a lot of flexibility in your ability to make changes to the posted content. There’s even video wall software on the market that allows you to make changes without needing to engage your IT or design team – a win-win for all!

#4: They Make Your Workplace Cool And Modern:

In today’s competitive world, it is important for a business to stand out and leave a good impression on its customers. By incorporating video walls into a space, you are catching the eyes of visitors, sending them your messages and promoting a sleek, tech-savvy workplace.

#5: You Can Make Your Video Wall Interactive:

When you want to make the most of your digital signage, why not make it interactive? Even more compelling than having a large LED video wall is to have one where people can easily interact with it. Directories, information drill down, and more – the possibilities are endless!

Should I Purchase Professional/Commercial Grade Monitors Over Consumer Monitors?

When it comes to monitors, commercial grade and consumer grade vary in many ways. Although it is true that consumer grade monitors are typically cheaper than commercial monitors, there are several important reasons why commercial businesses and operations should invest in a commercial grade monitor instead of a consumer grade monitor.

Intended Use and Operation

You may be surprised to learn that the build quality of the typical consumer grade monitor is often inferior to the build quality of a typical commercial grade monitor. That said, it is no mistake that manufacturers produce commercial monitors to withstand more grueling conditions than their consumer grade counterparts. This is because commercial environments are much different than what one would expect in a consumer environment. For example, a monitor used at a sports bar likely needs to run in intervals of very long hours and at higher temperatures, and so it is designed with these environmental factors in mind. A consumer monitor, however, is reasonably expected to sit on a desk and only run for intervals of a few hours at a time.

Using a Consumer Monitor in a Commercial Setting Can Void its Warranty

If you look at the fine print that comes with a consumer grade monitor, you will often find that using the monitor for commercial purposes may either completely void or substantially reduce the product’s warranty. This is because, as noted above, a consumer grade monitor is not designed for use in commercial environments and could break down when subjected to longer than expected hours of use, higher temperatures, etc.

A Commercial Grade Monitor Generally Comes Equipped With More Mounting Options, Resolution Options, and Orientation Modes

Consumer monitors are generally intended for use only with computers or video game consoles, even if they can be used in other capacities. Since this is the case, the display options for consumer grade monitors are generally very limited as compared to a commercial grade monitor. For instance, a commercial grade monitor may be equipped to hang upside down from the roof of a building rather than to only sit upright on a flat surface. If this is the case, the monitor will almost certainly come equipped with an orientation mode which allows for the screen to be flipped upside down to match how it is mounted. Any given series of commercial grade monitor may also come in several size options, and these monitors generally have more varied resolution options.

The above list are just some examples of how commercial grade monitors are different than and superior to consumer grade monitors. There are certainly many more ways in which the two types of monitors differ from each other. If you are running a business or some variety of commercial enterprise, it is probably wise to invest your money in the purchase of a commercial grade monitor. Even though a commercial monitor is likely to be more expensive than a consumer grade monitor, the benefits of owning a commercial grade monitor greatly outweigh the consideration of cost.

How To Get Rid of Poor Audio During Conference Calls

Communication technology is a pivotal part of any company’s IT architecture, especially if the business is spread across global regions. Without real-time communication tools, such as video chat and conference calling, it’s impossible for different teams and departments to stay coordinated and organized. Using conference phones during meetings will allow for remote and work-at-home employees to fully participate in the discussion. But if your technology’s audio quality is poor, it can quickly become a hindrance to your meeting’s productivity. Consider the following tips for improving sound quality during conference calls in order to run more efficient meetings.

Research the Optimal Service Provider

For companies looking to introduce new conference calling technology to their organization, there are a wealth of options on the market from a variety of providers, including both startups and more well-known telecommunication companies. Obviously pricing will play a significant role in your selection process, but it’s also important to perform detailed research into what each provider will offer in terms of sound quality.

Most conferencing calling providers will not publish all of the technical details of their audio equipment, so you may need to rely on independent reviews and ratings from other customers or industry experts. Look for a provider with a strong reputation of consistent call quality, with minimal lag and distortion impact.

Prioritize Analog and Landlines

Obviously mobile phones have become the leading form of telecommunication in the last decade. However, landline technology remains the most stable and reliable when it comes to call quality. When researching a new conference calling provider, looks for ones that base their equipment on landlines rather than mobile access points and satellites. This will ensure that calls are routed between participants using the best quality possible.

It’s also important for you to understand the differences between analog sound and the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), as well as the advantages of each. VoIP transmits sound signals through a data connection, which often offers a cheaper solution and easier integration with video chatting. But if sound quality is your top priority for conference calls, then stick to providers who are analog based, as these types of connections will maintain high quality from end to end. Keep in mind that you can easily pair a video chat solution with a separate conferencing calling product and provide your employees or customers with dial-in information.

Invest in Professional Equipment

After finding the right conference calling provider and setting up a service plan, the final step in ensuring good sound quality is to outfit your office with proper equipment. When possible, connect all conference phones to landline ports and provide each employee with a professional headset. This will provide them with hands-free capability while also limiting echo effects and other background noise.

For conference rooms where meetings will occur, it’s best to invest in speakerphones that can be placed in the center of a table to allow all participants to be involved in the discussion. You may also which to purchase ancillary microphones to further improve sound quality. These can be integrated with a speakerphone and placed throughout a meeting room to enhance the outgoing sound signal.