March 3, 2017 by Brad Grimes

Trek ReceptionI’m not a Trekkie. I watched Star Trek a little when I was very young, but that’s about it. It’s weird, though, because Star Trek is such a cultural phenomenon, how much you get to know — or think you get to know — about the show just by hearing other people talk about it all these years.

More on that in a sec.

Earlier this week, I attended the EDUCAUSE Enterprise IT Summit in Phoenix. Like InfoComm, EDUCAUSE is a non-profit association, but its mission is to advance higher education through information technology. As more and more AV tech managers in higher education (an active, engaged part of InfoComm membership), start to fall under institutions’ IT departments, we want to understand better how things are changing and help communicate the value of AV to a campus IT strategy.

On Tuesday afternoon, the roomful of higher ed IT executives heard from Michael Crow, President of Arizona State University. ASU has drastically reinvented itself in recent years, in large part through its adoption of technology. Despite a more than $250 million drop in public funding over the last several years, ASU is teaching eight times more students than it used to, and the number of ASU graduates has tripled since 2002. As Crow said repeatedly throughout his presentation, much of this was enabled by “technology, technology, technology.”

Among other things, ASU encourages “education through exploration and gamification.” This is definitely where AV can come into play. ASU plans to spend $90 million to transform its library from a place where books are stored and read, to a place where experiential learning and collaboration take place. (The books? They’ll be centralized somewhere and — maybe — drones will deliver them where they’re wanted.)

Then Crow explained one way he thinks about new technology solutions on campus. Like many of us, at the end of a long day, even when he’s still working, he has multiple screens going. On one, he said, he streams Star Trek. No particular season or version. Any Star Trek.

And he doesn’t watch. He listens.

One thing I know from my own limited exposure to Star Trek is that it features cool gadgets and technologies. Crow isn’t necessarily interested in the technologies themselves, he’s interested in hearing how the characters talk about them, react to them, experience them. He’s interested in the experience of technology solutions — even the fictionalized solutions.

The right learning experience will lead to the desired outcome. Such is the case with AV experiences in all the markets your work in. It’s what sets AV apart from IT and creates real value.

So give it a shot, whether it’s Star Trek or another particularly techie (not necessarily Trekkie) show or movie. Maybe fire up Minority Report. And listen to the show instead of watch it. You may just gain fresh insight into how people may experience your future solutions.

About Brad Grimes

Brad Grimes is the Director of Communications for AVIXA and the former editor of Pro AV magazine. He has been writing about technology for more than 25 years.