In the last couple of days, I have run across a few things that have made me remember that education is a little slower in adopting technologies than other industries. Please remember as I write this, I love where I work. I actually think we are very advanced technically and always continue to advance. What I write about is more to help the integrators in our industry realize we still have huge gaps in higher education that need service.
The first surprising thing for me was when I walked into our main academic building. I looked at the digital sign, and noticed the content on it. Then, I looked next to it and saw a tripod with a printed sign on it. The sign was advertising an event administration wanted students to attend. It immediately hit me. We were not doing something correctly with the digital sign. After all, if we need to post printed signs directly next to it, then the digital sign is not getting the attention we need.
The opening here for integrators? Clearly, we need some support in creating and and managing our digital signs. Why are we investing money in the signs, if they are clearly not working? Why don’t we have metrics on the responses and viewing of the signs? We are wasting energy, time and money if these signs are not working as intended. Additionally, this observation comes at the same time as another revelation. Students don’t use email! It has been an issue at the higher education level for a while. In fact, even the New York Times had an article several months ago, on college students who did not know what email is. The question persists then. How do we communicate with students? How do we let them know of events at the college? How do we let them know about opportunities available to them? Perhaps, as e-mail has become less important over time, so has traditional digital signage. If you are an AV/IT integrator, this is an excellent opportunity for you to help your customers.
A second time actually occurred in two instances over the course of the day. First, I reserved a room in one of our buildings for a meeting I was having that day. When I arrived at the room, there was a paper schedule on the door of the reservations for the day. Mine was not on the paper. I assume it was because I made the reservation after the schedule was printed. So, it got me thinking: In 2016 do we really do this? Print out a schedule every day and put it on the door of the room? We have a schedule that is obsolete immediately after being put up. This results is less spontaneous meetings or huddles, and a tendency to over reserve rooms, therefore wasting valuable space.
This was driven home to me even further later that evening as I sat down and read rAVe Pubs. An article from Sara was about the new Extron Room Agent 1.2. The software runs on their touchpanels and allows it to be used as a schedule agent that shows a room’s availability and equipment. Certainly, this type of technology is not new. It has been in existence for years, from several vendors, including other AV companies and furniture companies. Yet, here we are, still printing signs, and I am quite sure we are not alone.
So, integrators and vendors around the country. Here are two great opportunities for you. My standard reminders applies. Don’t show up in my office and tell me for a “small” investment of a couple hundred thousand dollars, we can have this in all our rooms. Rather, come and find out what I already have. Then suggest ways that you can help me use those installs for room scheduling. We don’t have touchpanels at our doorways, and we are not going to start. So, how do we integrate the room scheduling onto the touchpanels in our rooms. Will you also have IT people available who can help us integrate the programming with our rooms schedules? Are you willing to look at this project as a multiple year project, so we can spread out the cost? If you continue to be creative, offer me solutions I need and provide my college value, then there is still an opportunity available to you.