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ConfusedAs we gear up for one of the largest AV shows that any of us attend, I consider how many trade show, conference, and seminar opportunities we are bombarded with, yearly. Do you find it difficult to determine which are worth your time? From which will you take the most useful information? What type of event gives you the best return on your financial investment?

The answers to those questions can be as numerous as the shows themselves. But there are a few things to keep in mind when planning your time away from campus:

-- Do you hold an industry designation which requires you to stay current? Is there an opportunity to receive credits toward your certification or for professional development? Shows and conferences which offer renewal credits give you great bang for your buck. Not only are you able to learn about trends, products and project, you can also check those credits off your to do list! Two birds….

seen 17 1 pic pg 82Originally published in the Spring issue of SEEN (South East Education Network) Magazine:

(This is part one of a two-part series on designing the modern classroom.)Technology rich classrooms offer incredible benefits for both students and instructors. From fostering blended learning environments through collaboration, critical thinking and practical problem solving to flipped rooms centered on student engagement; the classroom that was focused on traditional teaching has evolved into active learning.

Often, when renovating existing or creating new classrooms, incorporating the technology into the room begins after the furniture placement and room configuration is set. Frequently this process creates an obstacle to the implementation of truly modern active learning classrooms that wasn’t considered or foreseeable when the room was originally laid out. Many schools have installed technology in just about every classroom as a result of grants they were awarded. Understand that these grants were issued following successful research indicating technology rich educational spaces increase assessment scores, collaboration and retention. Technology in the classroom is only as effective and useful as the environment allows it to be. Limiting the potential for interaction, engagement and collaboration will reduce or eliminate the advantage of having a technology rich classroom. The unfortunate feedback to the administration will be that the technology doesn’t seem to help all that much, and that the equipment, software, required maintenance and training is cumbersome.

CLASSROOMLecture capture system implementation has been growing over the past decade in both Higher Ed and K-12. Designing the right system with the appropriate equipment can be daunting for IT and AV tech managers. Like most new projects, one must begin by meeting with the department faculty and administration to ascertain what will be the ultimate goal for the material.

There are a number of reasons schools utilize this type of technology (some offering new revenue streams). Lecture capture is ideal for live-streaming e-learning and online/ distance courses. It can also be archived for viewing for flipped and blended learning paradigms or for continuity of learning plans (i.e. snow days or extended sick leave). Either way, with lecture capture the traditional learning experience is altered and typically enhanced.

Lecture capture technology allows flexible access to instructor based learning resources. Many schools offer a number of different recording locations and options to accommodate different teacher preferences and school budgets. Depending on the magnitude of the customized solution, lecture capture can:

  • record the instructor’s video and/or audio
  • incorporate any visual aids
  • integrate presentations
  • embed movies and annotations

spoiler alert 300 wI am using some of this post as part of a longer article about experimental technology-rich learning spaces. I know how much our readers love to know about what other schools are doing with their technology so I decided to share some interesting tidbits with our readers prior to the full piece being published. Here is the teaser:

I sat with a professor the other day who was part of a team of instructors, students, technologists and administrators who helped create, install and evaluate a brand new active learning space in one of their design buildings. I am still in awe, a week later, about how much prep goes into every phase of this project. Design and room planning, equipment evaluation, installation, instructional design, interactivity and feedback/ analysis. And even though this is the second semester that this room is being used for instruction, the work still continues to determine how to use the room, what type of activities/ interactivity results in the most student success, and if this room should be duplicated in other areas throughout campus?

snow dogFollowing a disruptive snow storm in the North East this week, students across the region (especially Long Island and New England) are home sledding, playing video games, drinking hot chocolate and doing everything but thinking about school. Many schools, however, are implementing continuity of learning plans that may require students to “attend class” during snow/ inclement weather days and extended sick leaves. I hear students all over the country groaning.

As AV, IT and infrastructure support professionals, there are some fundamental technology considerations when designing an e-learning program:

-- What is the overall school’s definition of and requirements for e-learning? Will students have to log into a platform for 5 hours of collaboration and video conferencing? Will they retrieve independent study materials from the school site and simply submit the project via email? Will it be a combination of independent work and collaborative activities? Teachers and administrators may have to develop lesson plans, lectures, and projects in advance for remote learning (their buy in for this is paramount to successful e-learning programs).

keep calm and play nice 6 257x300As equipment manufacturers, we are often asked about the interoperability between our products and other manufacturer's devices. As technology managers, that’s an incredibly important question to ask. Your every day priority is to make sure that audiovisual and digital signage systems in classrooms and around campus are working properly. From control systems to HDBaseT products to converters, adapters and displays and everywhere in between, interoperability is of paramount importance.

One thing to keep in mind is that as end-user representatives, your voice MUST be heard and it carries A LOT of weight. If devices aren’t “playing nice” it is important that you discuss this with the manufacturers or the manufacturer reps. This information can be used to create updates, patches or new products that will address these issues.

Additionally, demo the equipment in a variety of scenarios before committing to the equipment list for a project whenever possible. Many manufacturers allow you to evaluate product for a few weeks prior to purchasing it. This is in your best interest and theirs; potentially cutting down on future tech support calls, returns and problems.

Finally, making sure that software, hardware and firmware updates/ upgrades won’t create interoperability hiccups can be difficult or uncertain. But again, whenever possible, the question about potential future roadblocks should be addressed early on.

This morning an article popped up in my personal Inbox from PC Mag. It was part of a newsletter from a website I only occasionally peruse. But this article caught my attention and you can read it here: In Memoriam: The Tech We Lost in 2014.

It prompted me to think about how many technologies we have seen come and go in education during this past decade. Some of the technologies looked promising and then, just, didn’t. Or they were picked off by a more advanced product or technology. I am sure each of you have a stack of equipment in some room, perhaps your own office, which was purchased to “try” the trend, and then was never adopted. Or the equipment that was requested, desired and oh so necessary to student success, only to have the instructors completely lose interest or not change their styles enough to make the ed tech useful.

TEAL3 MIT 300x231The Technology Enabled Active Learning (TEAL) classroom was developed more than 10 years ago at MIT to enhance learning and engagement and increase attendance and success of first and second year physics students. It completely changes the design, layout, technology and pedagogy used in the room and courses.

TEAL classroom instructors focus class time on collaborative and practical application exercises. The room is designed as if there is no front or back of the room; round work tables are placed along the outside walls of the room. The instructor’s desk is in the middle of the room and white boards and displays (or projectors and screens) are situated on the outside walls next to the round work tables. Each station has connectivity for laptops or tablets and cameras for capture are dispersed throughout the room. This layout allows smaller groups of students to work together on course curriculum and help each other through problem solving and comprehension. The technology and connectivity offers immediate research opportunities, sharing information between students and instructor and faculty guidance.


This may be less of a blog post and more of a discussion initiating question, but here goes:

We know it is exceptionally important to have instructor involvement and buy-in when designing new active learning classrooms. The reason- the design has to align with the instructor’s goals and pedagogy in order for it to be effective and successful. Instructors who are entrenched in traditional teaching methods will not utilize active learning spaces in the way they were meant; this could result in awkward and ineffective spaces.

My question is simply (and perhaps not as simply answered) how does your institution encourage instructor involvement in the classroom space design and technology integration for modern active and blended learning rooms?

Share your thoughts below or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with your ideas. One randomly chosen participant will receive an AMEX gift card!

HuddleVu logo 300x62

Designed for small group spaces and large flex areas, FSR's HuddleVU furniture line offers three table options, with a variety of user configurations available. Created based on demand and feedback from end-users, the HuddleVU furniture offers ADA compliant seating, can be incorporated into any room decor. Customizations are quick, as all manufacturing and assembly is performed in the US.

green schoolsThe honest answer is “not exceptionally important.” The reason, however, may surprise you. Many schools have sustainability initiatives in place that cover a wide variety of campus life processes from printing and food services to facilities and grounds keeping. While technology is an obvious environmental concern, that concern is usually a result of the amount of electricity that the products consume (especially when accidentally left on overnight) rather than the make-up of the product or the length of the electronics’ life-cycles.

The AV industry has done a pretty amazing job over the past few years developing and manufacturing products that can contribute to a more energy efficient technology installation. Many consider energy efficiency to be the most “tangible” characteristic of green tech installations; producing the highest monetary pay-off. Some of the new standards of professional AV equipment include “eco mode” where a product will reduce energy consumption (while also reducing output or performance), and network visibility to remotely control and schedule use of the product (i.e. turn on/off when not in use). For many AV electronics, being energy efficient is no longer a marketing spec for which the product price increases. It is necessary to be a player in the market. Additionally, while technology evolves, integrators have started using fewer electronics in installations. Some of what used to be accomplished with four pieces of equipment can now be accomplished using one. Plus, control systems are able to link more equipment, beyond AV, to create not only an efficient but synergistic and smarter system.

2014 10 09 11 52 47 Keys to Engagement 300x228I originally posted this on rAVe [Publications]...

I recently wrote an article for EdTech Digest called “Keys to Engagement: Connectivity Challenges in a Technology-Rich Classroom.” In it, I outlined some challenges and solutions common to modern learning spaces, but which are often not at the top of mind when designing or installing room equipment.

One of the ideas I brought up was that “aside from aesthetics, cable management and connectivity can determine if the technology in a classroom is intuitive and easy to use or cumbersome and not being used at all.” While true, this is not the only factor that detracts from the use of classroom technology. There are a number of reasons teachers and professors may not use the well designed and helpful equipment.

can you break throughThis is my son’s first year in High School (yes, I just admitted that). Last week I attended the “curriculum night,” which is a full evening of meeting his teachers by studying his schedule and trying to traverse the very full of parents hallways of the high school before the bell rings and you are late to the ten minute course overview. The night offered so many distracting flashbacks that I actually cut out of 5th period, went to the diner and never went back. Just don’t tell my son.

huddlevu 350x350 300x199Why Collaborate?

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, acceptance and enhances problem solving skills.

photo5 e1410188350405Collaboration and active learning aren’t just buzz words to educators. They are clearly the keys to successful student engagement. In fact a study published on indicates that “failure rates under traditional lecturing increase by 55% over the rates observed under active learning.” This is impressive evidence that investing in active learning pedagogy and supporting technologies can affect student performance. Beyond that, collaboration strengthens community bonds, socialization, communication and trust among team members. Unfortunately, one of the biggest obstacles to the expansion of collaboration and small group work spaces in K-12 is budget. Creating an outline of the type of collaborative learning space needed for the environment will help manage precious time and eliminate costly errors due to overbuying or buying inappropriate equipment.

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