Planning for the Future
University Technology Managers aren’t just there to fulfill today’s needs – they need to be able to forecast tomorrow’s needs as well. This is becoming increasingly difficult with the rapid evolution of technology, and the less rapid but still strong evolution of teaching methods across the United States. It’s up to technology managers to ready their systems for the future, not for today.
“From a design standpoint, we try as best practices to test everything before installation. So leveraging our relationships with manufacturers for demo units. We set out a small portion of our budget post-InfoComm – we see that we could be using wireless technology in two years, let’s start testing the water on where we want to go. What is that going to mean for our network? For me it’s getting harder to future cast. You see the switch to the service model – hardware points are getting compressed and the real value-add is in solutions and support. It’s getting harder, I think. I’ve also started to step back from the urgency of design and implementation.” – Chris Imming – Director of Media Services and Campus Initiatives – Gordon College
“We don’t put in anything where all the inputs on the switch are filled. We always make sure there’s a couple switch inputs. We decided three or four years ago that from the wall jack forward we would drop analog support for video. We still have a VGA jack. Right behind the jack it’s converted to HDMI before it goes to the switch. There’s no VGA on the switch because I know that in two years I’m throwing that away. We didn’t know if we were going to use Mersive Solstice or Apple TVs. But we knew that that was coming, so we made sure there was an extra input on the switch, and extra network bandwidth to support that. We’re building to what we know the current needs are, and leaving provision for foreseeable needs when it doesn’t cost us more.” – Jesse Anderson – Audio Visual Services Manager – The College of the Holy Cross
“It’s putting the right infrastructure in place to last that next generation.” – Chris Imming – Director of Media Services and Campus Initiatives – Gordon College
“One of the difficulties is that, for four people from four institutions that do essentially the same thing, I would wager that if you walk into our classrooms there would be similarities, but a whole lot of differences as well. So it’s hard to say this is a standard 2017 classroom install. Because what meets my needs won’t necessarily meet others’ needs. We set a standard every year, and we build every new room to that standard, but it doesn’t mean it’s going to work for another institution.” – Jesse Anderson – Audio Visual Services Manager – The College of the Holy Cross
“I am not going to buy into an ecosystem. I want it to work. I want consistency. I want flexibility. I’m never going to deploy a campus-wide system. There’s a lot of risks, up front expenses, and you’re tied into long term ramifications. Different purchasing options is a huge value.” – Chris Imming – Director of Media Services and Campus Initiatives – Gordon College
Getting the Right Training
Training is an essential tool for the University Technology Manager. There can be any number of manufacturers that have products in a schools, and the technology manager has to understand how each of these products works. It’s no easy task, and while education is out there, it isn’t always easy to gain access to.
“As an end user, being able to engage manufacturers for support, being given training opportunities on a regular basis, really feeling empowered as an end user to utilize our integrators as a resource when needed but not necessarily feel tied to waiting for a service call. I think the relationship has gotten a lot better over the past couple years. I’m really pleased with the direction it’s going.” – Chris Imming – Director of Media Services and Campus Initiatives – Gordon College
“For my institution it would definitely be a value [for integrators to provide training on products]. There are a smaller number of vendors that I work with closely, where I’ll be on the mailing list to see some training opportunity just down the road, where I can take a half a day. But unless I’m actively seeking them I don’t see some of the others in the area that I would want to go to or I would want to send one of my guys to. Finding the time to hunt out professional development isn’t easy. But if I had some kind of constant stream of opportunities coming through it would be a benefit.” – Douglas Anderson – Classroom Technology Manager – Lesley College