IT/AV, News

Getting Campus AV Right

The field of audiovisual communications is an exciting industry combining a number of seemingly disparate technologies and products to create systems that enhance communication. It attracts professionals from a wide range of fields, many with eclectic backgrounds and varied educational fields of study.

Many long-term practitioners describe the field as both an art and a science. Certainly, the field is based on science and requires expertise in electronics, geometry, acoustics, light, optics, sound and structural calculations, among others. But, ultimately, the field is evaluated on the basis of human perception: Does the displayed image have the proper contrast ratio? Does the audio system produce the intended impact? Is the equipment integrated into the building architecture in an aesthetically pleasing manner? Does the overall environment work?

This combination of art and science sometimes creates tension, both creative and technical, in designing, constructing and operating AV systems. It also results in industry standards that may have general but not complete agreement within the field…or even within a single organization.

To address these issues in the education vertical market, InfoComm has released a new free e-publication, AV/IT Infrastructure Guidelines for Higher Education. Nearly a year ago, InfoComm established an international taskforce and charged its members with the creation of a publication that would be used by architects, engineers, integrators, technology managers and end users to plan and design audiovisual systems in higher education spaces. Taskforce members included representatives from technology managers, integrators, academics/researchers, consultants, end users, IT professionals and architects, with deep support from the InfoComm staff.

The document addresses the architectural and infrastructural considerations that need to be made when designing and implementing AV/IT technologies in higher education learning spaces while preserving the pedagogical and functional needs of the spaces, both virtual and physical, throughout the project cycle. It covers general learning spaces (collaborative spaces, didactic spaces, lecture halls and so on); however, it does not intend to cover all types of spaces or scenarios in higher education. For instance, it does not specifically address purpose-designed spaces that require specialized hands-on instructional activities. It offers contemporary, systems-oriented guidelines that are grounded in best practices in AV systems design and installation, user experience, technology futureproofing, sustainability, industry standards, and more.

By using this free resource, you can convey the knowledge of how spaces are designed/redesigned so the environment enables both learning and teaching. As technology needs and learning methods evolve, the AV/IT infrastructure can continue to support those changes. In addition, the publication explains to all stakeholders in a technology design and construction project for higher education spaces the complete process: from planning to operations, ensuring the needs of the end users. It also helps staff collaborate successfully with architects/engineers and end users regarding wants and needs for AV systems.

InfoComm, through the assistance of its volunteer subject-matter experts, offers this publication to showcase, and help you avoid, the most common mistakes in the AV/IT implementation process. I thank the following members for their dedication and input: Greg Brown, CTS-D, UCLA (Chair); John Cook, CTS, The Sextant Group, Inc.; Jeff Griffeth, CTS, AVI-SPL; Kimberly Hickson, Gensler; Sharon Kaiser, Duke University School of Medicine; Kay Persichitte, University of Wyoming; Stephen Phillips, Stantec; Derek Powell, AVDEC; and Scott Wood, CTS-D, CTS-I, Unified AV Systems.

Though focused on higher education learning settings, these guidelines may also be helpful for others involved in infrastructure projects in K-12, corporate training, virtual learning or other highly specialized teaching/learning environments. You can download your free copy at infocomm.org.

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