in April 2004
Graduate to Big Business
By Neal Weinstock
The IT/AV trend is strong in education, with AV
spending ceasing to exist in education unless it is part
of an IT project.
A study of educational
markets for AV technology was completed recently by my firm,
Weinstock Media Analysis (WMA). We didn’t go into
this project thinking it would have much of anything to
do with IT/AV, but the trend turned out to be particularly
strong in both K-12 and higher education. In fact, our market
researchers now believe that, for many applications, AV
spending has ceased to exist in education unless it is part
of an IT project.
Trends, Apps, Numbers
The overarching trend
we’ve found in educational spending on AV is that
it has become largely a subset of IT spending. This is the
case particularly in teaching and display applications—but
we identified four other application areas for educational
AV spending, and the same trend is spreading there, too.
The five apps into which we segment educational AV spending
1. systems used to teach students about
AV content creation
2. installed AV presentation systems in
concert halls and theaters
3. multipurpose AV production and post-production
4. broadcast facilities for distance learning
and/or public broadcasting stations and, again,
5. systems used in teaching and displaying
information to students throughout a campus.
WMA concluded that US
educational AV spending as a whole was worth $1.014 billion
in the 2002-03 school year, down from about $1.126 billion
the previous school year and the first decline in such spending
since 1993-94. These data do not include service revenues
or AV program sales or licenses, but do include all hardware,
content creation/distribution software and blank media.
We forecast continuing modest declines in strictly defined
spending on traditional AV devices and media through 2006,
while unit sales remain essentially stable.
|Per application, educational
spending on AV technologies in ‘02-‘03 breaks
AV content-creation teaching systems: $91 million.
• Installed AV presentation
systems in concert halls and theaters: $103 million.
• AV production and post-production
facilities: $94 million.
facilities for distance learning and/or TV stations:
systems: $563 million.
This will, however,
be offset by gains in software sales and especially by gains
in IT infrastructure that takes on AV functions without
use of AV devices or media. In other words, for example,
streaming media over IP networks, seen on computer monitors,
is replacing broadcasting gear, video routers and TV receivers;
storage on generic hard drives and SANs is replacing videotape;
presentation control systems written as Windows or Linux
code are replacing proprietary AV control hardware and software
Primary and secondary
schools and school systems for kindergarten through 12th
grade accounted for just $410 million in spending. The rest,
$604 million, was spent on the college and university level.
That imbalance is leveled somewhat when one considers that
almost all of the broadcast-facility spending came from
PBS affiliates that are also affiliated with higher education.
It is also important to note that the broadcast spending
is driven largely by upgrades to high definition as mandated
by the FCC.
Other Key Trends
Among other key trends:
chief technology categories that are maintaining high unit
pricing are loudspeakers, video displays (with LCDs and
plasmas replacing CRTs) and several types of software. Probably
more important than any particular sales tactics, companies
that focus on producing, selling or integrating the categories
that maintain the most value will dominate the entire educational
AV market as other product categories decline in value.
spending is greater, but private schools are often high-profile
application leaders. Spending is significantly greater overall,
both in kindergarten through 12th grade and on the college/university
level, in public as opposed to private schools. This is
attributable to spending on distance learning, many more
partnerships with and ownership of not-for-profit radio
and TV stations, the availability of public funding earmarked
for internet connectivity and associated equipment, the
existence of typically larger campuses in public vs. private
higher education and thus more need for public-information
systems and AV systems for large lecture halls, and other
in applications other than teaching and display (Apps 1
to 4), few of our more than 3000 survey respondents, few
of the policy-makers, buyers or other influentials we interviewed;
and little of the published material reviewed for our report
focuses on AV technology that can stand apart from computing
and computer networks.
Yet this is not to say
that IT/AV integration in education is an unqualified success.
In fact, the IT/AV technologies of video servers and AV
databases are starting to show some of the over-promising
and under-delivery that seems to be either a root cause,
or a symptom, of the decline in spending on older, stand-alone
Educators are forced
to work with “cumbersome servers unsuited to the tasks
to be done,” stated Richard Cornell, professor emeritus
at the University of Central Florida. In fact, the server
may seem to be the problem, but it may be a focal point
for problems throughout the network. Many complaints point
to schools simply not being up to the highly complex tasks
of keeping track of materials in an accessible database,
or managing a large and all-too-heterogeneous network. These
issues are exacerbated in an environment that includes all
too many students who are most interested in using the network
for just those things that system administrators don’t
want them to do: swapping illegal files, playing games,
hacking security codes.
Whiteboards are the
biggest source of complaint, of any particular technology,
followed by those servers and databases and the network
as a whole. “Why can’t these things be as easy
to use as our old VCRs and PA system?” are words we
heard over and over again.
is no panacea. It only still feels like one, while AV long
ago ceased to be viewed that way.
Overpromise, Underdelivery: Cause or Symptom?
In education, there
have long been many, easily cited examples of AV underdelivery:
TV monitors used to deliver canned lectures to hundreds
of university students at a time, amounting more to babysitting
than enlightenment; video actually used as babysitting in
primary schools, when teachers don’t show up and substitutes
can’t be found; AV production taught with equipment
so old that graduates are totally unprepared for the job
market. And so on.
AV spending in education
used to be mostly about cameras and VTRs, video monitors
and projectors, and broadcast transmitters. It was stripped-down
TV production, shooting lecturers and preserving their spiels
on tape for showing to hundreds of kids in lecture halls,
or distance learning achieved by broadcasting over specially
reserved educational frequencies to stay-at-homes.
In the process, AV production
students would learn the craft. Many of them would go on
to find work as AV administrators and AV teachers, or at
companies that would find lucrative markets in selling AV
stuff to schools. That “stuff” gradually broadened
to include well-produced educational videos, as well as
designs and installations of fancy AV-equipped theaters
and halls and public-address systems.
Did all of this stand-alone
AV overpromise or underdeliver? Certainly it did. Almost
all technology does, in the short term, even as some technology,
every so often, so vastly overdelivers that it makes us
all believers in tech’s transformative powers.
Why is IT now so trendy
in education? Partly because standalone AV is no longer
trendy. AV has largely failed as a panacea in education,
so some new panacea (other than vastly higher spending for
many more teachers and books) must be found.
Other reasons: The internet
happened, and holders of purse strings were able to perceive
a need to fund the connection of schools to it. (For public
schools, we all pay for this with a targeted tax on telephone
service.) In 1994, about 35% of public schools had access
to the internet; that number is now well over 90%.
Ditto, in a more gradually
rising curve, purse strings have loosened for spending on
computers in general: Knowing something about computers
seems to many more people to be an intrinsically important
educational goal than knowing something about AV (not that
most people can yet set the timer on a VCR, but they seem
have given up trying).
or digital file transfers of AV materials allowed computer
networks to replace the functionality of much dedicated
AV, while allowing far greater interactivity with the older
media than ever before. And, in recent years, political
demands for large-scale standardized testing have generated
some funding of IT solutions.
Interactivity and data
management—interrelated features, to be sure—are
indeed key to many educational apps. AV was never very good
at delivering these features until it recently began to
get married to IT.
From Synchronous to Asynchronous
In fact, this marriage
was predicted by Eric Peters, founder of Avid Technology
and one of the inventors of nonlinear video editing. “There
is an historical progression in video and audio away from
live performance, through a long stage we went through of
recording live performances, toward ever more asynchronousness.
We want to create productions asynchronously, with random
access to stored pieces of the work, and we increasingly
want to view them that way.”
Or in the words of one of our survey subjects: “Teachers
hate being dependent upon scheduling for video broadcasts,”
said Joni Rathbun, a librarian in North Las Vegas.
These thoughts seem
especially true for learning, research and creative re-use
of found materials. AV in business is far less of a learning
and creative environment, in contrast, so that integration
of AV and IT does not go to the heart of the institutional
mission to anywhere near such an extent. In education, even
when the application is sound support and video display
in a large hall, interactivity and network access from many
if not all seats are frequently involved.
But many teachers are
far from comfortable with new technology and, for many,
asynchronous viewing preferences are served most easily
by checking out tapes from a library and popping them into
a VTR. Says Rathbun, “We have abandoned the media
retrieval system and will only be using part of it to support
broadcast. We can’t afford the upkeep.” Just
because the new technology is in demand doesn’t mean
it is easy enough for large numbers of non-specialists to
AV Is Dwarfed by IT
WMA didn’t sum
up educational spending on IT in general, just spending
for AV technologies. We didn’t need to do so, because
lots of other people are, if not on top of this, trying
to be on top of this. In fact, this very situation—lots
of people interested in IT spending, relatively few interested
in AV—speaks volumes about where AV technology fits
into education today.
By way of comparison
with our AV tech totals, the market research group Quality
Education Data (QED) reported that public schools spent
more than $5 billion in school year 1997-98. Even bigger,
a 1996 RAND study estimated the cost of providing technology-rich
learning environments in all schools at between $10 billion
and $20 billion per year.
These numbers should
be compared to a fairly solid estimate from the US Department
of Education that an average of $10,766 per student is spent
annually on all educational expenses in the US. That adds
up to a total of more than $700 billion spent on education
annually (or about 7% of US gross domestic product), so
only as much as 2.8% of the educational spending total is
needed, according to RAND, to do right by technology needs.
Only some 0.7% of educational spending is actually spent
on technology, according to QED. And, by WMA’s estimates,
just 0.1% of all education spending is on AV technology.
In other words, IT spending is seven times greater than
Both the QED and RAND
estimates include AV technology within IT spending. Both
of these estimates, too, come from the boom years of the
1990s, so some salt might be taken with them now. But education
is such a big beast, with almost 70 million full-time students
in this country, in some 70,000 schools, that up-to-the-business-quarter
numbers are simply not available.
Still, we know that the federal government has increased
education spending significantly in recent years, and we
know the growing (and exact) number of dollars coming to
IT spending in education is from telecommunications taxes.
So educational technology spending is probably up a few
points over 1998, even though state and local spending on
education probably have declined a bit.
IT Spending Is Down
But IT spending, like
AV spending, is down from the previous year. Not only do
about a third (36%) of our survey base report lower budgets
last year vs. 2001-02, most (52%) expect current-year budgets
to come in below last year’s. These data are echoed
by IT spending information from the 2002 Campus Computing
Survey. Fully 20% of the 2002 survey participants report
mid-year budget cuts this past year, up from 8% in 2001
and 5.3% in 2000. As above, public universities were most
affected by the mid-year cuts: in 2001/02, 45.2% experienced
mid-year IT budget cuts, compared to just 13.1% in 2001
and 10.9% in 2000. The mid-year budget rescissions in public
universities averaged 3.4% in A/Y 2002, compared to 4.3%
in 2001 and 2.9% in 2000.
a pretty nifty message for AV vendors in our numbers. Survey
participants think streaming media over their IT networks
is a major set of requirements and a large share of near-term
future IT purchases. They have IT budgets that are indeed
shrinking a bit, but that are seven times greater than AV
budgets. There has to be many ways for AV vendors to get
some of that pie.
1: Educational Purchasing of AV Technology, Per
User Group and Application (opens separate window)
20 Leading Media Creation School
|Academy of Art
College, San Francisco
American University, Washington DC
Berklee School of Music, Boston
Burlington College, Burlington VT
Columbia College in Chicago
Columbia College, Hollywood
DAVE School, Orlando
DH Institute of Media, Santa Monica
Five Towns College, Long Island NY
Gnomon Inc., Hollywood
Henry Cogswell College, Everett WA
LA Film School, Los Angeles
Mesmer Animation Labs
New York Film Academy
New York University Film School
Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester NY
School of Visual Arts, New York
School of Communication Arts, Raleigh NC
University of Southern California Film School
Video Symphony, Burbank CA
Educational Purchasing of AV Technology, Per Application
November 2003. In US$Millions
|Systems used in teaching
and displaying information to students throughout a
|Broadcast facilities for distance
learning and/or public broadcasting stations
|Installed AV presentation systems
in concert halls and theaters
|Multipurpose AV production and post-production
|Systems used to teach students about
AV content creation
Survey Respondents Categorized
|Type of Institution
|private, 4-year/graduate university
|public, 4-year/graduate university
|public primary/middle school (grades
|federal, state, or city school system
|public secondary school
|private secondary school
|public 2-year college
|private primary/middle school (grades
|professional or trade school
|private 2-year college
Neal Weinstock, editor of Sound & Communications’
IT/AV Report, is the founder and president of Weinstock
Media Analysis, a market research firm. He helped found
BridgeCo, a Swiss maker of audio networking semiconductors,
has authored two books on computing and design, edited magazines
including TV World, and has written hundreds of articles.