EdTech Planning Group
N E W S L E T T E R Volume 2 Issue 5
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Making decisions about how to allocate funding for educational technology is a very imprecise science.  Decisions are typically based on gut feel rather than hard data. 
 
In order to address this shortfall, EdTech Planning Group has developed a web-based survey methodology. 
 
The survey collects precise data from faculty users about how often they use various equipment, and how satisfied they are with the technology.
 
The survey also collects information about equipment faculty would consider using in the future, and identifies how the technology could be made more useful to the teaching process.
 
EdTechSurveyPix 

In order to help refine the survey, and to compare data among institutions, I'd like to offer a few of our Newsletter readers the opportunity to use the survey at their institution, without charge
 
In exchange for some spade work on your part, editing the survey for your particular institution and your help in motivating faculty to respond, I will provide a detailed summary of the responses, along with any relevant comparisons to other, similar sized institutions. 
 
I will never share the identity of the source of the data without your written permission.
 
Check out the sample survey at
www.edtechsurvey.com.  If you are interested in discussing this opportunity further, please contact me via email
mleiboff@edtechpg.com
 
Michael David Leiboff
 
 
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EdTech Planning Group is an educational technology and facilities planning consultancy, working primarily with colleges and universities around the United States.
 
Phone 914.613.3303
 
 
How To Create
Great AV Learning Spaces
 
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Designing and implementing successful AV facilities requires the collaborative effort of a number of participants with varied interests, backgrounds, skills, and agendas.   For the purposes of this discussion, assume that an institution desires to build a new classroom building, comprised of a variety of learning space types. 
 
Basic Design Team
 
Typically, a team of participants is assembled to represent the institution's interests.  Most often a project manager is assigned from the facilities and construction department, or other administrative support group, to organize and lead the process.  Next, one or more user group representatives are identified to ensure that the needs and goals of the users are appropriately met.  Finally, an architectural firm is hired to undertake the process of designing the building, and prepare the necessary construction documents.
 
At this point, a number of sub consultants are hired to help the architect design the building appropriately.  The most important of these include engineers to design the mechanical HVAC, electrical, and plumbing systems(MEP).  Proper planning for these disciplines is essential to designing a building which can accommodate all of these technical sub systems.
 
Broadly speaking, educational technology for learning spaces requires a similar type of planning process.  This is true in particular for audiovisual multimedia technology.  These systems can profoundly impact architectural design parameters. 
 
So, what is it exactly, that needs to be coordinated, and how should this coordination be orchestrated?
 
Briefly, presentation technology encompasses the integration of specialized equipment that should be seamlessly and aesthetically integrated within the interior architecture of a building.  In order to achieve this, a number of steps must follow, and a planning process must be completed.
 
 
Statement of Requirements
 
The first order of business is to develop a statement of requirements.  This information is usually codified in the form of a Program or Concept Design Document.  It results from a process of collecting user requirements and refining them until such time as a consensus and formal approval have been arrived at. 
 
Ironically, this is usually the most difficult and time consuming part of the process, as rationalizing the varied and often times conflicting needs of different users can be an arduous task.  It is helpful to engage an experienced facilitator/analyst to help ferret out, organize and prioritize user requirements. This expertise can be hired by the architect or the institution.
 
A statement of requirements typical has three elements:

  • The identification of the range of capabilities and technologies the facility should accommodate, in each space or space type, over the foreseeable life of the building.
  • The identification of equipment that should be installed initially, for use on Day 1.
  • An estimated cost of initial equipment installation.  Often this budget is conceived as a scenario analysis, outlining several alternatives, in terms of high, medium, and low cost options.
     
    Role:  Facilitation and Needs Analysis
 
Basebuilding Infrastructure Design 

Once the AV Program has been completed, the architect must develop a detailed, buildable design, which is hospitable to the equipment that will be installed.  A variety of architectural design priorities must evolve, some of which include:
 
  • Physical space to accommodate the necessary racks of support equipment.
  • Appropriate electrical power and telecommunications connectivity.
  • Coordination of ceiling elements, including projector(s), audio speakers, video cameras (as well as lighting, HVAC elements, sprinkler heads, etc.)
  • Coordination of wall and floor elements such as patch panels, wall and floor boxes, projection screens, etc.
  • Conduit runs to accommodate low voltage wiring needed to support AV systems.
  • Millwork, such as casework to house equipment, power or network outlets.
  • Structural Support, to accommodate wall or ceiling mounted flat panel displays and projectors.
Few if any architects have this kind of design expertise in-house, and often hire an AV consultant to guide them in the architectural accommodation of technology.
 
Role:  Basebuilding Architectural Designer
 

Technical Systems Design

Once the building is well under construction, detailed technical systems design and specification must be completed.  This involves completing the following tasks:
 
  • Developing a systems design that achieves the utility needed to meet Day 1 requirements, and also stay with budget targets established in the needs analysis phase.
  • Identifying equipment items needed, by make and model number (or, in some cases, functional performance).
  • Identifying signal flows, which define technically how the equipment will be integrated.
  • Installation procedures and technical performance requirements.
Again, not many architects can provide this service directly, and they typically either ask the institution to contract a consultant, or hire one themselves. 
 
Role:  Systems Designer
 
Systems Integration
 
After the systems has been designed, the equipment must be procured, installed and tested.  In a project of any complexity and scope, it is wise to hire a systems integrator to take responsibility for this work.  This contract is often held by the client.
 
Role:  Systems Integrator
 
* * * 
 
The most common approach to integrating audiovisual technology into a building project as described above, is for either the architect or institution to follow one of two paths: 
  • To hire an audiovisual consultant to conceive, architect and design AV systems with the goal of preparing a specification for competitive bid, followed by the participation of a systems integrator.
  • To bypass the audiovisual consultant and hire only a systems integrator to conceive, design and install of the systems equipment.
 In truth, experience shows that both methods can work wonderfully well, and both can fail miserably.
 
The issue of design/bid vs design/build will be covered in a future newsletter.