My Top 5 Tips to take some stress out of managing AV in your classrooms…
AV in classrooms is a hot topic these days, which isn’t surprising given that most of the teaching and learning revolves around it in some way or another. But sometimes, it can become a struggle to manage it all with constant callouts to classrooms to fix what seem to be the same irritating problems; like HDMI cable not connecting, images not showing, resolution changes between rooms and laptops, wifi devices disconnecting, poor quality video or the most annoying….. Video and audio not in sync with each other, making you think you are watching an episode of Monkey Magic!
Over the past few months, I have been wholly and solely buried in Design and Estimating. SO I’ve seen a few problems in classrooms that we have had to fix for IT/AV teams to make their life a little easier throughout the day. When we pulled apart the technology, we found all sorts of challenges; mainly around resolutions, poor quality cabling and interconnects, and a lack of general understanding from the users as to how to fix their problems…. Now I’m not saying everyone needs to be a technician, after all, the AV is there to support teaching and learning. If it ever swings back 180deg the other way, then we have really lost our way in education.
But when I really looked….. I mean really looked at what was causing the issues, I was able to see quite clearly the challenges people are having, and when I saw it, It smacked me round the head… yet again about how important it is to follow some basic rules no matter what the budget.
So here they are…. My Top 5 Tips to take some stress out of managing AV in your classrooms…
In our office, one of our core values that we strive to operate by is “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should” In a classroom, this is critical. Often we try to over complicate a room adding to many points of failure in a room. Whilst technically it might all work, it makes fault finding a nightmare, and fault finding when class is about to start is no fun at all. I’m sure you’ll agree.
As with most things in life, consistency breeds predictability. Having different technology in every room means…. Once again, Fault finding is a nightmare to pin point. If I relate to the IT world of a school, Typically IT managers will only ever run with 1 or 2 brands of laptops, with 1 or two images so you can streamline roll outs, manage costs and pin point faults….. FAST!
I heard a saying from a business mentor of mine, (which I now live by) that went like this…. “what happens if I train people and they leave, to which raises the question, what happens if you don’t and they stay”
The same really applies here, if you don’t put at least a little bit of effort into training the end user, then you will always get call outs, to help on very… very basic stuff. Basic video tutorials about “how to connect up” and, “What to do when you have no picture on your projector or display” are a great idea. Make sure you get all the bleeding obvious stuff out of the way first before they call you.
You might think video tutorials are just too much work for all my rooms, but if you live by points one and two, then you are really only doing 1 or 2 videos to cover off your whole campus.
4. Building a Flexible, device agnostic room
These next two points are probably arguable depending on where you are going as a school and who you are talking to. Building a room that can take any operating system can be a real challenge, although as we are seeing more functionality from apple to 3rd party devices its starting to get more reliable. It certainly needs to be considered when designing a room. Afterall, you don’t want to set up a room that wont allow an Apple Mac to even show an image because everything on Mac runs copy protection on it….
Flexibility however, it’s a definite. Building a flexible room to cater for teachers that want to teach from the front of the room or from the back of the room. Or maybe they want the ability to move around the room with an iPad or tablet; so connecting wirelessly needs to be a consideration. But be careful not to use domestic products in a commercial environment, you might not get the network control that you are looking for…
This is the one that might stretch the budget a little, but having it as a long term vision is worth considering. So what do I mean by Management? Well, just imagine if your AV products could all sit on the IT network (maybe on its own VLAN) and all talked back to a central controller to tell you what is going on, and potentially what the problems are before your teacher even knows. Building a system like this does have a fair return on investment, especially for a school considering a dedicated AV tech. Remembering that the AV tech needs to get paid year on year, where your management system might cost you big once, and very cheap year on year after that. This type of system also helps project life and rollover of product.
Now, you might say, well that’s all well and good but where do I start? Well we all know the saying “failing to plan, is planning to fail” So you need to be able to start planning to make your life a little better day by day.
But you can’t do this, until you have a starting point of sorts….. a level playing field, or a position to make your decisions from.
What I’m getting at here is you need to understand what is in every room, how old it is, and what technology is being used. Then, and only then can you plan the next step. Unless of course you have an infinite budget and you can just rip it all out and start again…
This month, The Big Picture is offering to do this for you…..
What? You ask....
Well, a full Audit of all your AV in your classrooms. It’s something that most have good intentions to do themselves, but never actually get to it…
Imagine if you had a full report on every room about the design, the type of technology that is in there, the age of the equipment, and any immediate issues that need urgent attention.
Business managers will love it! And so will you when have a baseline to work from.
So the deal is…
$110 gets you three rooms, if you have 30 rooms, your investment is only $1100. I’m sure you get the drift.
But Here is the value…
- A detailed Schematic of every room (as far as we can trace cabling)
- Recording of all electronics in the room
- Detailed reporting of the Life of the product and approximate age
- A full power up, switching and power down test
- Testing of all Interconnect cabling to the wall plate from the source
- Any image issues that have been noted from simple things like alignment to more detailed like EDID settings and resolution problems
- Any Audio issues that have been noted with the room like, buss, or ground loops
- Any maintenance required for existing equipment
- Cleaning of all filters and resetting of lamp hours on projectors
So you can see, this isn’t just an Audit, it’s a service as well! All sent to you after wards in a detailed PDF
If you want to take us up on this offer…. Here is what you need to do….
Simply click the link that says ““I want The Big Picture to make my life easier” and fill out the form and we will be in touch to schedule.
But hurry, this offer is only available to schools who book in February. And given that each report will take about 2-3 days depending on the size of the school and access, then we will fill up quick.
So Again, click the link that says “I want The Big Picture to make my life easier” and start making your life easier…..
I want The Big Picture to make my life easier