Editor’s Note: Special thanks to Bose Professional for its sponsorship of this five-part blog series on audiovisual trends in the higher education sector.
Colleges and universities around the world – and educators who work with students – frequently spin out of control when implementing new technologies and sharing information. There are dozens of apps and platforms vying to compete for students' attention. When it comes to the classroom, a teacher can quickly lose students by using too many technology formats.
“Information and technology overload is a real thing,” said Brad Sousa, CTO at AVI Systems. “It’s incumbent on technology teams and professors to look at the large universe of available resources and select the best tools that students will view as credible.”
Instead of adopting every new tech platform that’s introduced, schools should work with experienced AV systems integrators to form a calculated technology plan designed to connect with students and improve learning outcomes.
When considering AV technology design, take steps to avoid potential pitfalls like making decisions about technology in a silo and adopting every new tech gadget.
Avoid Operating in a Silo
Technology decisions should be made with an integration plan in mind. How will a technology purchase function with existing tools and platforms in the institution’s tech ecosystem? Failure to look at the entire ecosystem will result in expensive purchases that don’t get used and don’t meet expectations.
Quantify the Technology Needed to Amplify the Experience
Schools and faculty often see the allure of the latest and greatest tech gadget, software or platform. The key, however, is to not let the newest shiny thing blind you. Critically examine new technology, and move forward with decisions only after you are certain the technology will advance educational goals and student outcomes.
A good AV systems integrator will work closely with the technology team at the college or university – sharing expertise and creating pilots and proof of concepts before a purchase decision is made. These steps are important before integrating new technology into the production environment.
“Consider how the creators of Facebook evolved their platform in the early phase of its development,” said Sousa. “The initial design for Facebook started as an experiment with the Harvard campus directory and focused on simply connecting students with each other. The important learning is that Facebook’s creators weren’t so enamored with a specific protocol as much as they hoped to create something meaningful campus wide. They looked closely at how students used the platform and made improvements each step of the way.”
Sousa adds that many colleges and universities frequently struggle to honor the legacy and history of the institution and at the same time, make technology advancements that are both student centric and assist with the task of educating people. The emergence of new esports programs serve as an example of this struggle.
Ten years ago, creating a gaming environment on campus would have been unheard of – and even in 2020, a large investment in esports might raise eyebrows among alumni. However, building a meaningful esports program focused on educational outcomes gives most schools a new competitive edge.
“Colleges and universities find that moving group gaming activities away from the residence hall and into a venue supported on campus and designed to foster collaboration makes perfect sense,” said Sousa. “This global, educational experience engages student participants and spectators who come together in an environment built around amazing technology advancements."
Remember, success in creating a forward-thinking technology plan doesn’t start with technology speeds and feeds. Instead, start the discussion by articulating the human impact. Understand the outcomes, then engineer a system that meets these expectations.
Lastly, keep in mind that even when new tech platforms are integrated, the life cycle clock keeps ticking. In the AV technology space, the average product life cycle is roughly six months. Plan to refresh campus technology platforms on a regular basis in order to remain viable with students in the future.
"Schools benefit when they provide a tech and learning environment that students want and need," Sousa said.