October 11, 2019 by Kirsten Nelson

Learning spaceWe’re heading to the AVIXA AV Executive Conference Nov. 5-7, and that means it’s time for a behind-the-scenes look at your business. What’s really happening in those financial spreadsheets lately? What’s going on in the verticals that drive your business? And how are your employees feeling about all of the above?

We’re getting into all of that and more in New Orleans. And I’m honored to be one of the moderators who will help guide vertical-specific panel discussions based on audience input. For the “Trends in Learning Solutions” session, we’ll conduct a live poll to see which topics we should dig into on stage.

With budgets on the increase, and a need for colleges and universities to compete for students with the latest technologies, we’ll have plenty to talk about. And we’re not afraid to dig into the questions of cap-ex versus op-ex and whether AV as a service is the way to go.

This higher-ed panel, like many segments of the AV business at the moment, is all about opportunity. The upward trend of more tech in more spaces is actually being funded by real capital commitments, particularly from one of AV’s truest allies in the education space at the moment: CIOs who understand that we’re talking about more than a few projectors here. It’s really about connecting students with the collaborative technology they expect in any space where they congregate.

In addition to higher-ed’s greatest hits of flexible classrooms, lecture halls and active learning spaces, we have a new AV-centric contender: informal learning spaces. Watch for these in student commons, libraries and even dining areas. It’s all about giving students plenty of power outlets, a shared display and some wireless ability to share content. And then there’s the furniture and lighting.

Learning Space“They expect a lot of options, so that’s reflected in the way spaces are designed,” notes Mark Russell, Manager, Learning Spaces and Technology Services at Indiana University, and a panelist for this session at AVEC. “Honestly a lot of today’s informal spaces look more like a coffee shop than they do a place on a college campus. Because students really get into the atmosphere — they’re more comfortable with the ability to dim the lights and choose their seating configurations.”

Tech managers expect more options today too. They’re collaborating with technology manufacturers to select and develop the best technologies. And in working with their AV design and integration partners, they’re looking for more service and support in every phase of the project.

It’s a complete ecosystem that we’ll be exploring with Russell and our other panelists, including Jeff Bethke, Vice President, Engineering with Level 3 Audiovisual and Jim McGarry, President and CEO of the Education Market Association.

So, with schools facing pressure from all sides, including tech-savvy students, teachers seeking to implement active learning methods of pedagogy and administrations who want schools eager to sustain relevancy, how can we work together to optimize what’s ahead?

There’s no shortage of new projects. McGarry cited a study by College Planning magazine revealing that 55% of colleges were planning to do a renovation or modernization project in 2019; 23% were adding additions to existing buildings; and 33% reported that they were going to build new or replace existing buildings.

That’s a lot of blank slates for new AV designs. But McGarry will definitely be talking with the other panelists about how all the design and integration partners can make the most of higher-ed opportunities: “You really have to ask what is the pedagogy, what is the technology, and then how does the space support it? If you don’t think of those three things together, the chances of accomplishing the end goal usually are pretty slim.”

The Trends in Learning Solutions panel will take place at the AV Executive Conference on Wednesday, November 06, 2019 from 2:00 PM - 2:45 PM.

About Kirsten Nelson

Kirsten Nelson has written about audio, video and experience design in all its permutations for more than 20 years. As a writer and content developer for AVIXA, Kirsten connects stories, people and technology through a variety of media. She also directs program content for the TIDE Conference and Technology Innovation Stage at InfoComm. For three years, she also created conversations around emerging media and experiential design at InfoComm's Center Stage. Prior to that, Kirsten was the editor of SCN magazine for 17 years.