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AV in Schools

What good is it if they don't know how to use it? By Gary Kayye, CTS

Recently, I spoke at a local university's technology show and I was amazed at how much AV technology the campus actually had. It was everywhere. Not only were their large screen displays in virtually all the classrooms, meeting rooms and lecture halls, but there were 25 projectors and plasmas in the cafeteria! We've finally hit the big time!

But, there's a catch. Even with all that AV gear all over campus, most of the instructors didn't know how to use much of it. No one could quite get the document camera to display on the projector without calling an AV technician. Sure, if all they wanted to do is connect up their laptop to the projector in the ceiling of every classroom, they could figure that out. But, introduce any sort of extra signal routing or a problem with the picture and, again, enter the AV technician.

It all started in the 1980s when Apple virtually gave away Macs to schools by the hundreds of thousands. Almost every school got at least one. Then, the districts seem to instantly fall in love with them and buy hundreds more. Within eight years of the first Mac hitting the first elementary school in Southern California, the Apple moniker became just that.

But, no training. Sure, theoretically the Apple operating system was easy enough that just about anyone could learn it on his or her own with virtually no training. And, eventually schools hired media center directors to be in charge of the Mac distribution thus the training.

But, the cold, hard fact was that they went underutilized and then obsolete before their potential was ever realized. No real training was ever offered in most cases.

Then, the PC came out with Windows. It, too, followed the same pattern but this time was almost impossible to figure out without a college degree in computer science.

Then came the laser disc player and a library of educational laser-based content.

Then came a host of other technological gear and software that was well-meaning, but difficult to use. Thousands of titles. All cheap, readily available, and ultimately better understood by the pupil than the teacher. Why? No training. 

Now, here we go again. Were seeing projection technology and all sorts of other AV gear appearing in the classroom with little of no training attached. Of course, its blamed on budgets everything seems to be: "We dont have the budget for both the gear and the comprehensive training for everyone to know how to use it." the story always goes.

And in many cases, it is somewhat budget-related. Everyone in the educational field knows that budgets are being squeezed more than ever, and this does cause one to pit one against the other.

But, enough is enough. The computer can be used for much more than its being used for now. We all know that. And, so can the projector. Its not just for PowerPoint presentations and browsing the Internet. In fact, its imperative that we integrate AV-based and interactive technologies into every element of the schools or well have a generation of kids that cant pay attention and are bored although it will probably be blamed on ADD (attention deficit disorder). And why shouldnt they be bored? Look how much technology has changed the way we all work and interact in both our everyday personal and professional lives. Yet, school is taught virtually the same way it was since I was there 20 years ago heck, since my dad was there 48 years ago. And, were not talking just elementary, middle and high school college too.

Sure, weve added PowerPoint, PDFs and even fancy Web browsing to the curriculum, but can we all agree that someone whos got a GameBoy with them in their backpack is going to be bored in virtually any lecture-style course?

It doesnt have to be that way.

Demand training. Dont buy so much technology buy some training. Yes, a self-proclaimed technologist just said, "dont buy so much technology." Get trained on harnessing the power you already have lying around campus before asking for more. More isnt always better.

OK, I admit this is an oversimplified solution or, more accurately, a soapbox. But, Im working my end of the deal too. I have been demanding, for years, that manufacturers include some baseline training in their products sold through to the educational markets. Im making progress, but its far from a solution.

But, you have to start somewhere.


Gary Kayye, CTS is Chief Visionary at Kayye Consulting, Inc., a Chapel Hill, NC-based marketing consulting firm that serves the ProAV and Home Theater markets. In addition to strategic marketing consulting, Kayye Consulting, Inc. is also a training development company. Gary can be reached via e-mail at gkayye@kayye.com or through his Web site at www.kayye.com.

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Gary Kayye, CTS is Chief Visionary at Kayye Consulting, Inc., a Chapel Hill, NC-based marketing consulting firm that serves the ProAV and Home Theater markets. In addition to strategic marketing consulting, Kayye Consulting, Inc. is also a training development company. Gary can be reached via e-mail at gkayye@kayye.com or through his Web site at www.kayye.com.
Related Keywords:technology show, AV technology, large screen displays, classrooms, meeting rooms, lecture halls, projectors, plasmas, ia! Weve finally hit the big time! But, theres a catch.

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