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AV Asset Control on a University Campus, Part 2

At Kennesaw State University in Atlanta, they're upgrading the AV control systems and installing Extron's TouchLink touchpanel controllers

AV Asset Control on a University Campus, Part 2

Sep 28, 2010 12:00 PM,
With Bennett Liles

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Part 1


Part 2

Editor’s note: For your convenience, this transcription of the podcast includes Timestamps. If you are listening to the podcast and reading its accompanying transcription, you can use the Timestamps to jump to any part of the audio podcast by simply dragging the slider on the podcast to the time indicated in the transcription.

At Kennesaw State University in Atlanta, they’re upgrading the AV control systems and installing Extron’s TouchLink touchpanel controllers. Chris Walston and Chris Lewis with the university’s multimedia development group are here to continue their discussion on classroom control and the latest trends in academic AV.

OK, Chris Walston and Chris Lewis, thanks for being back for part two from Kennesaw State University near Atlanta with the multimedia development group on the Kennesaw campus doing all the AV stuff there—which is considerable on a campus that big. How many people do you have on the team there to respond to AV trouble calls?
Chris Lewis:
Well on the side of the department that focuses on the audiovisual integration, we have six staff members and one administrator. Luckily we’ve been funded for two additional staff members, so we’re going to expand our group to eight staff members and one administrator, so we are really looking forward to that. [Timestamp: 1:24]

Well I envy you, those numbers. On the AV side, I’m the Lone Ranger on my campus. I guess the good side of that is not having a whole lot of communication problems on the AV staff.

I know you were all pretty slammed at the beginning of August with the start of fall semester. That’s probably the worst time of the year for AV people in the university system of Georgia, when all the big fun starts—particularly if you have a lot of adjunct faculty coming in who have never seen the AV systems on the campus before. I hear you’ve been phasing in some new Extron touchpanels. Where are you planning to install those and over what timeframe?
Well we’re at a real interesting time over here at Kennesaw State. We just brought online our new WellStar Health Sciences building called Prillaman Hall on campus. It’s a [56-million-dollar] building and for the first time ever on our campus, we’re doing any real burn-in. So from August all the way through December, the building will be completely offline, which allows all of the IT service groups and the other groups on campus to get in there and do their installations and whatever else they might need to do in there. We have planned to do 50-plus installations between August and December, so we’re pretty busy in there right now. [Timestamp: 2:40]

Do you have anything up there that reacts to sensors to do things automatically or anything like that?
Not in any of these classrooms we do not, no. [Timestamp: 2:49]

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I had toyed with the idea at one time of putting motion sensors in the classroom because we have some people who like to leave things running and I tried at one point—the Extron MLC series panels have a great feature that lets you set a time-out period for when there’s no input on the panel for that period of time and it can be set to shut down. But they would tend to leave the projectors running between classes and just come in and get started and about 15 minutes or so into the lecture, the system would shut down, and so they would have to restart it. So I had to do away with that and just set all the systems to shut down around 11 o’clock or so every night.
Chris Walston:
Well, I could definitely see us using the motion sensors on the TouchLink panels. Unfortunately, in this new building, we don’t have the capability to control lighting in it right now; if we did I think we would definitely be using that motion sensor to at least turn some of the lights on and off based on that motion sensor but we just don’t have the ability to do that right now. [Timestamp: 3:47]
Lewis: Yeah, we do have some MechoShades in the building and as an additional phase down the line, once we get all the classrooms online, we would like to go back and revisit that to see if we could get control of those shades to help set up certain macros or states. [Timestamp: 4:03]

Yeah, it always tends to bewilder some people when they come in and the lights go up and down or things move. Some new people can get a little weirded out about that. I noticed you’ve got a range of classrooms there. Do you go all the way up from bare-bones rooms that have almost nothing all the way to the Star Ship Enterprise rooms?
I would say the bare-bones rooms are still pretty well-outfitted. We have several standards on campus. We try to do that for many reasons: number one, support; number two, so our faculty can move seamlessly through the university and pretty much know what they’re going to get no matter what building they’re in. So as far as bare-bones, we always have some kind of video system controlled by a controller system—whether that’s a touchpanel or a pushbutton system—and we always have some sort of distributed audio for source and, 90 percent of the time, spoken voice as well just to help with classroom intelligibility. But yes, we do have several events spaces and some auditoriums on campus that go above and beyond what you would see in a standard or normal type classroom installation. [Timestamp: 5:11]

And of course everybody wants those rooms. It seems like sometimes the people who need all the media gear end up with simple rooms, and those who just want a whiteboard get a room with all the fancy AV equipment. So there has to be some degree of coordination for all the facilities.
Absolutely. What we do for most new buildings on campus, we have a classroom standard and we do stick with that most of the time. But we have add and deduct alternates that the faculty, chairs, and deans can choose for their classrooms, if they want to spend the extra money or lessen the scope of work based on their budget. So we try to work with our end users to provide the best-case scenario for them to give the best return on the investment. [Timestamp: 5:57]



AV Asset Control on a University Campus, Part 2

Sep 28, 2010 12:00 PM,
With Bennett Liles

So after you’ve designed one of these systems and you pretty much have it the way you think it’s going to work, do you ever have to go back in there and maybe tweak something after you’ve got some feedback from the users?
Well sure; sometimes there can be quite a bit of delay between the time we actually design something and it’s actually funded and procured, and even more of a delay by the time we actually get around to installing it. But it’s with a small crew; there is some delay in that process. And oftentimes in that delay people change their minds or you may have somebody else that’s brought in to make those decisions. So yeah, we do make some changes from time to time but our designs are meant to be flexible so usually it’s not that big of a deal to make those changes. [Timestamp: 6:39]

Yeah, most of the changes I make they never even notice. It’s mainly changes for me for my own peace of mind or to keep them out of trouble.

So what are the features that you use most in monitoring central control? Do you use the Extron central monitoring for that?
We’re looking at getting the GlobalViewer Enterprise. We were working with them on getting that brought to campus. Right now we are using—we do use a Free GlobalViewer now. We really want to get the GlobalViewer Enterprise on campus. We do have all of our devices on the network, and I have monitors set up on all the 226s and 104s and TouchLink panels, so we’re alerted in case anything gets disconnected or a projector overheats or anything of that nature. So we do have all of those monitors set up. So yeah, if it can be monitored we’re monitoring it. [Timestamp: 7:22]

Yeah, I have some Crestron and some Extron. For a while I had RoomView on one monitor and right beside it I had Extron’s GlobalViewer Enterprise and Extron sent out one of the actual GVE code writers to see me and we sat there and compared features. So I think they’re coming out with a new version of GVE real soon and it’s going to have some new features in it. I was thinking about the budget situation and how it’s affecting people on other campuses—obviously that’s just going down most of the time lately with education. So how are you dealing with that? Have you had to tighten up on anything, or have you been pretty free to go so far?
You know that’s something we laugh about often in this department. Enrollment keeps going up and budgets keep shrinking, but we’re busier now than we ever have been before. I think the administration on campus have done a really good job managing our money and applying it to technology and things that we need on campus, so we’re busier now than ever. [Timestamp: 8:16]

So are we down here on the other end of town; we see increasing class size too. I think one of the technologies that has some promise in trying to offset the effect of increasing class size is classroom capture. Are you doing anything with that out there or plan to?
We’re looking at some different things right now, Bennett. There are so many different solutions on the market right now, and all of them have certain things they bring to the table and all of them have certain downsides to them, honestly. So we’re looking at different things and evaluating it and even looking at possibly doing something inhouse on our own. So we haven’t really made a decision yet about which solution we want but there certainly is a very increasing demand for that technology on this campus. [Timestamp: 8:56]

There’s a huge market for it right now and you can just about find every shape and form of the capture idea going around.

We had an economics professor several years back and she was using one of those simple little eBeam whiteboards. You just stick it up anywhere and it used ultrasonic sensing on the marking pens and recorded her voice on a mic. So the students really loved that thing because they could go home and download the lecture and watch the whole thing from any point. It’s not as good as one on one with the instructor but for effectiveness it can really provide a lot of bang for the buck.
This is starting as a big—we have a department on campus that are making a big push to look at all the solutions on campus. So I think—hopefully within the next six months or so, we’ll have some standards and we’ll be deploying much more of that type of system. [Timestamp: 9:44]

So what do you see coming along in the future with this? We’ve talked about classroom capture, but is there anything else big coming along, or is it mainly just volume and expansion right now?
Mainly volume and expansion right now. We always try to stick with the latest and greatest technology; unfortunately, we don’t know what that’s going to be yet. We do have several classroom buildings that are approved and will be coming online in the next few years. So we’re just looking ahead and trying to stay on top of that kind of stuff as far as infrastructure planning and we just plan for everything and keep on building the classrooms. [Timestamp: 10:2]

Well, I know where you’re coming from on that and I wish you a lot of luck with it and I really envy you, the new staff editions; that’s great news. It’s Chris Walston and Chris Lewis from Kennesaw State University, the multimedia development group there and thanks so much for being here and taking the time to let us know what’s going on at Kennesaw State with all the new Extron touchpanel installations.
Thank you.
Walston: Thank you Bennett.



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