TechDecisions has partnered with integration firm AdTech Systems for a series of roundtable discussions with end users about the struggles of their jobs and how they work with integrators. The first of these series revolved around the needs of the University Technology Manager. Throughout the discussion it became apparent that there are some aspects of the job that are universal.
Calling an Integrator
University Technology Managers are typically adept at understanding what they want in their classrooms. That decision is an amalgamation of staff and faculty input, but ultimately the technology manager will provide a design. What they are looking for from integrators is to fulfill or exceed that design, and they don’t mind being told they’re wrong.
“Before I pick up the phone to call an integrator, I have a pretty good idea of what I want the design to be. But when I reach out to the integrator I’m not locked into that design. I’m open to alternatives. I’m very open to other concepts and products being pitched.” – Chris Imming – Director of Media Services and Campus Initiatives – Gordon College
“My role, when doing a design, is typically what you would have from a consultant when doing a public bid job. I’m doing the user studies, running the job spec, running the performance spec, coming up with the conceptual design. The move to IT has been kind of helpful – every system we put in now has at least a couple IP addresses. Normally it’s just for monitoring and control, but in some systems we are moving audio through the network. Unless I’m embedded into IT that becomes much more difficult.” – Jesse Anderson – Audi Visual Services Manager – The College of the Holy Cross
Choosing the Right Technology
University Technology Managers may be the ones installing systems, but they are far from the only ones deciding which systems to put in place. Registrars, budgetary committees, and faculty all play a role in choosing the right technology. Ensuring that all needs are met, fall under budget, and everyone is actually going to use the technology once it’s installed can be a real challenge.
“The pressure we feel the most is that people want the classrooms to operate exactly the same way their living rooms do. If I can take my phone, wave it, and have it on my TV, why can’t I do it in my classroom. It doesn’t matter that you say these things about wireless access points, total bandwidth and available channels. They just want to get the image up on the screen. They just want it to work.” – Jesse Anderson – Audio Visual Services Manager – The College of the Holy Cross
“It’s very beneficial seeing what other people do, and what works at other places. It’s one thing for the vendor or manufacturer to say this is great. But when you’re hearing from another college what works for them, you can relate more to that. – Ken Stewart – Classroom Technology Manager – Curry College
“I spent extra money for the touch panels for the sex appeal. They walk in and it looks like it’s sleek.” – Douglas Anderson – Classroom Technology Manager – Lesley College
“If the Registrar had their way, every classroom would have the same equipment. Because that way they don’t need to assign classrooms based on what the teacher needs. It’s the same throughout. Our agreement with the Registrar is that every classroom will meet a minimum standard – one for BYOD rooms and one for everything else. As long as it meets that standard I can exceed it in any particular case. But I need to meet that standard for every classroom.” – Jesse Anderson – Audio Visual Services Manager – The College of the Holy Cross