University of Iceland trials the new Catchbox Plus system

Great examples of how to overcome the challenges of blended and hybrid learning spaces for universities

Like many other higher ed institutions, the University of Iceland is embracing hybrid learning and looking to make the most of it. Not only does hybrid learning enhance flexibility and accessibility for students, but it also makes the university both more resilient in the face of disruptions and a more attractive study destination. 


For the University of Iceland, going hybrid was relatively simple since core tech infrastructure – implemented for lecture capture – was already in place. Accordingly, the only setup upgrades required were audience microphones to ensure remote students can hear what was being said by their in-class peers. 


To combat tech adversity and ensure the teaching staff isn't burdened with yet another piece of complex kit, a key criterion in choosing an audience microphone was its user-friendliness. For Grettir Sigurjónsson, the technician at the University of Iceland responsible for distance learning and videoconferencing, Catchbox was the obvious choice.


More than that, the University became the first to trial the all-new Catchbox Plus wireless microphone system.

Catchbox plus system bundle

A successful trial run for the all-new Catchbox Plus

The new and improved Catchbox Plus system brings several exciting new features while retaining its iconic look, feel, and simplicity. 


It's a whole-room audio solution with a Clip lavalier mic for the lecturer and a Cube throwable mic for the students. Simply plug in the hub via USB and both mics are ready to go, making it easy to manage and maintain for teachers. For the students, on the other hand, the activity of passing the Cube around helps with collaboration and engagement, and, more importantly, ensures perfect audio pickup, as the mic is always right in front of the source of the sound.


The University of Iceland was the first to test the new Catchbox Plus system and did so with great success. Classes ran smoothly, students enjoyed passing the Cube around, the sound quality was exceptional both in-class and remotely, and the lecturers found the entire audio system to be simple and unintrusive.

Teacher wearing catchbox clip mic

“Perhaps too unintrusive. Teachers were forgetting to remove the Clip mic when leaving the classroom,” Grettir laughs. To avoid such situations, the new Clip lavalier mic features a clever built-in alarm system that will alert the wearer when the mic is taken out of range.


Additionally, the new Catchbox Pro version features a Dante™ adapter that supports audio over IP technology, which replaces physical connections with a computer network that sends audio over Ethernet cables. It's great news for institutions looking to integrate Catchbox into their existing or upcoming Dante ecosystem and a big plus for technicians who can now manage their Catchbox fleet remotely. With its API remote monitoring capabilities, Plus Pro configuration was designed for installations allowing facility managers to deploy multiple systems at scale.

Loved by students, teachers, and the tech team

The University has been using Catchbox ever since it introduced hybrid lessons and has 20 Catchbox Plus systems installed in its larger lecture halls. They're being put to use every day and both staff and students have grown fond of them. 


“Catchbox is simple and effective. Its intuitive design meant that students got used to it very quickly and all it took was a brief explanation for teachers to catch up, too,” shares Grettir. 


The clinching argument, however, was the ease of setup and maintenance. Overhead from managing audio systems across numerous halls can really stretch an AV team and dealing with technical hiccups risks disrupting an entire lesson. Being a plug-and-play solution, Catchbox became a quick favorite of the tech team. 


“And the fact that you get two mics with a single USB port is very important,” adds Grettir.

Students engage with catchbox

How the University of Iceland uses Catchbox

Catchbox systems are deployed in medium-to-large halls with 50 to 100+ students. While other institutions move their Catchboxes around from hall to hall, the University of Iceland has opted to leave theirs stationary to avoid the systems getting misplaced and ensure lecturers don't have to track them down before the start of a class. 


Connected to the in-class speaker systems, the Catchboxes not only broadcast audio to students joining remotely but also amplify voices in class, letting students be heard and giving them a powerful platform. 

Students engage with catchbox

How exactly it's used is largely dependent on the dynamics of a particular lesson or subject. For instance, during an economics lecture that demands focus, the Catchbox will be passed around gently and rarely thrown. Whereas in a creative writing brainstorm, you'll see students throw it, slide it, catch it and move about to do so in order to get both the energy and creative juices flowing. 


As to the presenter mic, the lecturers clip it on when they arrive and start teaching. The biggest challenge, as we've learned, is to not drive home with it. 

How exactly it's used is largely dependent on the dynamics of a particular lesson or subject. For instance, during an economics lecture that demands focus, the Catchbox will be passed around gently and rarely thrown. Whereas in a creative writing brainstorm, you'll see students throw it, slide it, catch it and move about to do so in order to get both the energy and creative juices flowing. 


As to the presenter mic, the lecturers clip it on when they arrive and start teaching. The biggest challenge, as we've learned, is to not drive home with it. 

The best audience mic for universities

Catchbox Plus is an ideal solution for educational institutions. A true hybrid setup requires that remote students can hear what's happening in class, and as far as audio solutions go, Catchbox is a head above other options on the market. 


The new Catchbox Plus system is available for purchase and shipping and you can learn more about the system here.


A final remark – Grettir's experience with putting together a hybrid setup for the University of Iceland is surprisingly unique. The more AV teams we talk to, the more we hear about how they've tried and invested in multiple solutions to find the one that works for them. Grettir, on the other hand, got it right on his first try. 

man holding a catchbox plus cube mic

Catchbox Plus

The solution for your institution

Catchbox Plus has helped to transform the blended learning process across the University of Iceland, and Catchbox is a part of many other universities across the globe, like Harvard University, UCLA, University of Nebraska, Victoria University of Wellington, and many others.