EdTech Planning Group
N E W S L E T T E R Volume 2 Issue 6
Last Chance To Get Tech Survey
Results For Free
 
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
 
 
The Role of an
Audiovisual Consultant
 
Ford School Aud 
 
As institutions seek to build new learning and meeting facilities, and to renovate existing ones, often times extensive architectural design and construction is required.  These building projects require a team of professionals to design, create construction documents, and oversee construction.  Chief among them is an architect, who serves as the design and coordination leader. 
 
There are, in addition, numerous other specialty consultants who work under the architect to tackle specific design issues, structural, mechanical (HVAC), electrical, plumbing among them.  No significant architectural construction undertaking can succeed unless these design disciplines participate.
 
The design of learning facilities should include additional expertise, including lighting, acoustics, and audiovisual systems and facilities design.   Audiovisual systems which are built into classrooms must be integrated into an architectural environment which is hospitable to them.  This is true both for practical and aesthetic reasons.  
 
It is in this area where the skills and experience of an AV Consultant can be critical, to support the overall efforts of the design team, and at all times be the advocate for and adviser on issues that relate to multimedia systems.
 
Consider the complexity of designing a building.  Thousands of details must be considered and coordinated. Audiovisually, there are dozens of critical issues to work out:
  • Room size and geometry are critical to good viewing angles
  • Ceiling heights must be sufficient to accommodate properly sized and located projection screens
  • Appropriate power and connectivity must be designed to accommodate equipment which may be located in various places around a room
  • Location of video projectors, audio speakers, and control panels must be identified

And, the list goes on.  After room design is substantially complete, systems equipment must be identified, engineered to work together, specified, and installed.
 
The need for specialized audiovisual consulting, therefore, can be a critically important aspect of building successful classrooms. 
 
The tasks commonly completed by this type of consultant typically include the following elements:

Needs Analysis
 
In collaboration with users and administrative personnel, determining what sort of capabilities are required in the near and long term future.  Naturally, funding and prioritization of needs are key elements in the analysis.  The ability to help educate the client about how to identify appropriate technology to meet academic goals and the ability to facilitate a consensus is also important.
 
Facilities Design
 
Working with other design team members, developing sketches followed final drawings showing equipment locations, power and conduit requirements, needs for specialized fixtures (to support the video projector, for example) ceiling speakers, projection screen locations, etc.
 
Systems Design 
 
Based on user requirements, the identification of specific equipment items, by make and model number, and technical engineered drawings showing how the devices interrelate and how signals flow among them.  Typically a specification document package is developed such that potential audiovisual integrators can compete to acquire and install the equipment.
 
In all cases, pure AV Consultants do not sell or install equipment, in order to avoid a conflict of interest (recommending products for which they are compensated).  This is in contrast to a so called design/build vendor who provides both systems design services, as well as sells and installs equipment.  
 
Systems Implementation
 
This is the process whereby the AV Consultant provides contract administration for the successful integrator's installation efforts, resolves field construction issues, and ultimately tests the systems and accepts it upon behalf of the Client.
 
All In One?

Can a single consultant organization excel in all phases of the job?  As a practical matter, it is difficult to find strengths in each of these areas in one company.  
 
Needs analysis requires an understanding of pedagogy and organizational behavior.  Facilities design requires a sense of architecture and aesthetics.  Systems design encompasses both detailed technical and human factors issues.  Systems implementation requires good project management skills.  And, success in each of these areas requires strong written and oral communication skills.
 
For this reason project teams often divide responsibilities among more than one organization, splitting the needs analysis from other tasks, or utilizing a consultant led design/build methodology. 
 
In our next newsletter, we'll cover the advantages and disadvantages of working with a vendor on a design/build basis.