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VR gaming 768x614The technology behind Virtual Reality is coming into its own. Students are becoming increasingly more familiar with a maturing VR through video games and inexpensive (read: accessible) tech like Google Cardboard. Now, as interest increases, many educators want to know how VR can be useful as a learning tool in the classroom.

VR as a means to promote collaboration and teamwork– allow students to problem-solve in safe and secure (and unique) environments. VR gives teachers an opportunity to engage students in any type of situation from paleontology digs to courtrooms to boardrooms and in space. Not only will students learn how to work as a team in real-life (or not so real) circumstances, but these opportunities can help promote work-force readiness in a similar manner as in-field experience.

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  Robert Zotti — I run the Online Learning Division at Stevens Institute of Technology. We typically run 150 graduate courses in engineering, management, and computer science each semester. Based on the challenges I've seen in getting faculty (and students) on board with just our standard LMS and our web conferenc......

A version of this post was published at Systems Contractor News (

New Ignite Logo V2 768x216The Takeaway: Yes, I am starting backward, but I think you need to hear this. You’ve heard it before but, like moving a big machine, our industry takes time to adjust and seems to need some coaxing from time to time.  Here it is: we are very poor educators, marketers and ambassadors. Wait, let me clarify that before you jump to the comments section to defend why we have some of the best cheerleaders of any industry (you rabble-rousers know who you are)…

I was given the privilege of presenting, as an NSCA Ignite! Ambassador (learn more here), to two high school business classes- a total of about 40 students.  These classes include mostly junior and senior students.  They are the students that COULD alleviate industry wide hiring challenges. Yes, some of them mentioned they want to be a chef, fashion designer, or hospitality manager. So I spent a bit of time explaining how technology impacts each of those seemingly non-related fields because, overall, they are a group we know we should be targeting.

Guest post written by Mario Maltese. Reposted with permission from AQAV at

What is “Third Party Commissioning?”

3rdpartycommIn legal terms, the word “party” refers to a person taking part in a transaction or contract. An AV Company engaging in a contract with an AV Buyer forms two parties in the contract. When the AV Company completes a battery of tests themselves (using the AV 9000 Commissioning Checklist) intending to certify what they just installed as being compliant with that contract, we call that “First Party” commissioning. It is similar to an internal audit. Personnel specifically trained in the tests, with the required instrumentation, should perform the tests and that personnel should not be the same personnel who installed the system.

When the AV Buyer uses its own trained and equipped personnel to perform the AV9000 Commissioning tests that is called “Second Party” commissioning. Many organizations that have the specialized personnel and instrumentation resources to do this have done so.

HETS 2017 sponsors logo finalFour well known audiovisual and classroom technologies manufacturers, FSR, Inc, Biamp Systems, Christie Digital and Quam Nichols, have partnered to put on the second Higher Education Technology Summit (HETS).  Created specifically for college and university managers of educational technology, HETS is designed to combine a day of product training, networking and peer-to-peer discussions in a fast moving format. The first HETS took place in Burlington, MA.  Due to demand and feedback, the second HETS will take place in Philadelphia’s center city, convenient for eastern PA attendees and an easy train ride from NYC, NJ, DE and MD/ Washington DC.

Gina Sansivero, Director of Business Development, Education at FSR, Inc tells why an event like HETS was created. “As industry leading manufacturers, we understand that educational technology managers are technically educated and experienced and are increasingly taking on more design and installation responsibilities in house. They are also developing technology standards and specifying products for the AV systems campus-wide.”

residential GA TechResidence halls are a big profit center for colleges and universities.  Typically educational technologists have had little to no technology responsibility in dorms.  But when student expectations drive projects and priorities, as they often do in order for schools to stay competitive and meet enrollment goals, traditional environments seem to get turned on their heads.

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  Thomas Hayes — I agree fully, the dorms of yesterday offered nothing but a bed at best and forbid if your room mate was a party animal. Students desire top notch for the cost of an education now. Universities need to get out of the past and realize the newer generation of students want and demand a home away from ......

DETCHE keynote 2016 1024x768Have you been to a conference with an opening keynote that just didn’t seem relevant to the attendees, their jobs or the trends and topics that they wanted to learn about? Probably. That’s why I like to share when I attend a conference at which the keynote speaker is spot on- knowing his audience, tailoring his content and providing takeaways that make sense and are usable.

At the DET/CHE (directors of educational technology/ California higher ed) conference this year, Adam Finkelstein from McGill University took the stage on the first full day of sessions. He had a difficult task; he had to engage and education a room of about 170 attendees with clearly varied jobs. DET/CHE pulls in AV and IT department heads, instructional designers, directors of distance education programs, and even some tech-inspired faculty. They all want to learn about learning technologies, but will understand use the new concepts in diverse ways that fit their position. No matter what their focus was, he grabbed the attendees immediately by proposing that “Higher Ed is under siege. It is neither affordable nor is it a great value.” Yipes! That’s a pretty strong statement, considering just about everyone in the room makes a living at one of these higher ed institutions that, evidently, have little value.

Global Teams1This was originally posted in the winter edition of SouthEast Education Network (SEEN) magazine:

I was fortunate enough to be able to discuss technology specific concerns for schools with multiple campuses with two experts. Jahn Westbrook, Technical Manager, Campus Media, Classroom Support Services from New York University (NYU) and Tim Cichos, Senior Audio Video Engineer from University of Notre Dame were kind enough to share some insight into the challenges and successes of managing technology and teams worldwide. In an effort to preserve the context and the authenticity of their responses, here are the Q&As from our session:

NotreDame Mendoza LogoThis information was provided by Jim Spencer and Nick Page from the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame:

I mentioned that we’ve been playing with the 1 button studio concept a little bit, so I wanted to share our work with you:

The first one that we did was a rolling recording cart. The concept was to invest in one deluxe mobile system that can be used anywhere, instead of installing multiple smaller systems in some rooms and not others. It’s got a camera, a PZM whole room mic, a handheld/lav pair, and 8 wireless RevoLabs ‘pucks’ that we can throw around the room for full microphone coverage. The cart has an audio DSP to handle all of the mics, and it also has a video to USB bridge and a recording appliance. We can record, and/or connect to a classroom lectern via USB for a Zoom call. Since it’s a Rolling Recording cart that can Zoom too, we call it R2-Z2. Here’s what our rolling cart looks like: (I’ll try to get nicer pictures that aren’t in a storage closet tomorrow, and I’ll add some captions to the album as well)

PUPNOriginally published in Private University Products and News (PUPN), November 2016.

Being smart and intentional when designing building infrastructure for power, AV and IT is necessary to keep up with the demand of today’s users. Whether in education, corporate, healthcare or government buildings (etc.), rooms must be outfitted to support growing technology requirements.

Increased resolution, accessible bandwidth and available charging are challenges for technology managers and space designers who are, with increasing frequency, working together to develop functional environments. Users’ expectations are typically defined by their experiences with their own consumer grade equipment like phones, home control, and plug and play systems. Simply put, they want easy to use technology for seamless meetings, classes, consultations and events. Compounding the stress on designers, installers and managers to “get it right” is the now common demand for flex-spaces; rooms that are effectively multi-purpose.  Read more here

one buttonThere has been an increase in dialogue about the “One Button Studio” solution that many schools are designing and installing for their faculty and students. A one button studio is a space designed with pre-set configurations for lighting, cameras and mics, customized capture software and control that allows a user to walk in, create good quality video, and leave with his/ her content typically on a user supplied flash drive.  Originally designed at Penn State University, the One Button Studio is being realized at schools across the country for faculty who want to create content to flip classes, supplement classroom curriculum, or provide content for online courses.  Students can also use the rooms to practice speaking, create presentations, conduct mock interviews and create videos for class projects. Easy interface in a pre-configured space, minimal training, user ownership and reduction of assistance from tech departments: sounds like a winning combination. Penn State University even illustrates the time savings for each recorded video using the One Button Studio:

red caster bigSome background info: I see the phrase “disruptive technology” all over the place and it makes me cringe. It has become one of those trendy buzz-phrases; destined to rise to celebrity status and then phase out in a couple of years because it’s been overplayed. I’d like to think of myself as less trendy and more classic. You know, I stick to a timeless black dress rather than buy a frock in the color of the moment (which, as I have recently discovered, is this fall’s burgundy.) But as I started to outline this post, I disappointed myself with how many times “disruptive” came to mind. And then, I moved forward.

I am insanely lucky that I get to travel all over the country visiting campuses, discussing challenges and successes with AV and IT ed tech professionals. It gives me a unique opportunity to understand trends as they are happening…and the issues that inevitably arise when colleges and universities try to design technology trends into their specific and distinct environments (remember BYOD?). Imagine my surprise when one of the most disruptive of these trends isn’t technological at all.

Modern Architecture 06The AV/IT Technology Leadership Summit developed by the team at AV Technology Magazine took place at the Affinia Hotel in NYC last week. This two day event was completely free (even hotel and meals) for qualifying attendees.  To be qualified to attend you had to be an AV, event technology or IT manager, designer, CIO, CTO or magician in healthcare, legal, corporate/ enterprise, house of worship and education markets.

During the two days, guests listened to experts discuss a variety of topics relevant to today’s (and tomorrow’s) AV and IT professionals. One of the most common trends that seemed to weave through almost all of the conversations was that of AV/IT roles in the world of facilities. Beginning with Mark Valenti’s (CEO of technology consulting firm, The Sextant Group) keynote on day 1 and in some way touching almost every panel discussion after that, the extent to which OUR technology is currently and, moving forward, can be incorporated into the building, campus and beyond garnered much attention. Panelists and audience alike shared a variety of questions, comments and opinions about building and campus control, utilities, user experiences and departmental liabilities.

Being smart (and deliberate) when designing building infrastructure for power, AV and IT, (see FSR’s floor boxes), is just the tip of the iceberg.  It even goes beyond occupancy sensors, controlled shades, and shutdown commands. When a building lives and breathes, provides information about its health and use, supports commerce and conversation, offers analytics to justify changes and enhance productivity and more, seamlessly, the “holistic building” concept is beginning to take shape.

Global Teams1Colleges and Universities that have a global presence and a network of multiple campuses worldwide have a unique set of challenges. These challenges are not unlike a business operating offices in several different locations. The concerns can range from “out of sight, out of mind” and reduced productivity to a cohesive team and consistent cultural/ team identity.

Drilling down deeper, the obstacles may become magnified for individual departments within the university, for example academic technology and AV. We’ve talked a lot about campus wide standards for classroom technology. Creating technology standards is a useful and helpful process on many levels.  Standards reduce systems cost of maintenance and down-time, manages expectations of students and faculty, reduces training time and can even help save money on equipment.  Here’s one challenge: How do you maintain those standards on different campuses, let alone different parts of the world?

For an upcoming article for SouthEast Education Network, I talked to the managers of technology departments within a couple of high profile universities that have a worldwide presence. They discuss how they navigate the obstacles of managing technology systems on remote campuses for long-term and connected consistency. Until that is released this fall, here are some ideas on how to deal with managing multiple campuses. This probably-not-all-inclusive list isn’t AV specific, but should provide insight on managing teams in other locations.

This originally appeared in the Spring issue of SouthEast Education Network (SEEN) Magazine.

Ask management level professionals what is the most difficult part of their job and many will respond, “finding good help.” Arguably, the biggest complaint GenExers have about “workforce rookie” Millennials seems to be their lack of preparedness when entering the “real world” after school. There has been a lot of discussion about using collaborative learning in both K-12 and higher education classrooms to help close the skills-gap. At the forefront of these discussions has been the variety of instructional technologies designed to enhance collaborative classrooms and the modification of lecture-centered pedagogy. There are many technologies and resources available to teachers that support an active learning curriculum. While technology in itself is not collaborative, i.e. collaboration systems are only collaborative if students and instructors utilize them to that end, it can help facilitate and provide a conduit for collaborative, active and group learning.

Collaborative or active learning is a methodology that transforms that traditional lecture or teacher focused classroom into a student or learning centered room. Students work together to help each other understand content, solve problems or create projects and products with the instructor working as a moderator or facilitator. Collaborative spaces in education trickled down from corporate “flex/open workspaces.” They were designed based on the understanding that interactivity and collaboration in small groups produces stronger solutions that would have not been reached individually and encourages sharing of research for enhanced learning. Further, it encourages trust building, communication, practical learning/application, and acceptance and enhances problem-solving skills.

Creating a Foundation for the Prepared Future Worker….read more here

UCF students and mannequinsHealthcare is booming. Mostly because of the boomers. As the largest generational population in US history ages, the impact on all facets of healthcare and medicine is undeniable. points out the by 2030 ONE IN FIVE Americans will be over the age of 65. Today boomers make up more than a quarter of the total US population. The baby boomer generation was the most educated generation in the US up until that point. They got married later, 50% of them got divorced, they made good money and they pushed the boundaries of traditional American households. Outside the house, they made strides in business, politics and medicine. According to Wikipedia (you can’t believe everything you read on the interweb) “baby boomers control over 80% of personal financial assets and more than half of all consumer spending. They buy 77% of all prescription drugs, 61% of over-the-counter drugs, and 80% of all leisure travel.”

You probably understand where this is heading. Boomers are aging…lots of them. They make up almost 30% of the US population. In addition to that, medical technology continues to evolve and directly impacts the average life-expectancy. Diseases and afflictions that would have killed someone 50 years ago are cured with medical treatment or minimally invasive surgery.

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  Matthew Moore — I am interested to know how you hire for this specific type of project? At our university we design the room based on the sponsor's requirements for the project. Our nursing department solicits a quote for the project and we meet with them to discuss their needs. Often this results in a significant......
  AVdAVE Topping — I will take question 3 & 5- Due to the intent of the Sim Labs’ purpose, the simulation needs to be as true-to-life as possible; there is no room for latency and systems need to be designed to address this issue. Therefore, it is very important that if an instructor initiates a training session (......

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