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AV Asset Control on a University Campus, Part 2

Sep 28, 2010 12:00 PM, With Bennett Liles

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Editor's note: For your convenience, this transcription of the podcast includes Timestamps. If you are listening to the podcast and reading its accompanying transcription, you can use the Timestamps to jump to any part of the audio podcast by simply dragging the slider on the podcast to the time indicated in the transcription.

At Kennesaw State University in Atlanta, they're upgrading the AV control systems and installing Extron's TouchLink touchpanel controllers. Chris Walston and Chris Lewis with the university's multimedia development group are here to continue their discussion on classroom control and the latest trends in academic AV.

OK, Chris Walston and Chris Lewis, thanks for being back for part two from Kennesaw State University near Atlanta with the multimedia development group on the Kennesaw campus doing all the AV stuff there—which is considerable on a campus that big. How many people do you have on the team there to respond to AV trouble calls?
Chris Lewis:
Well on the side of the department that focuses on the audiovisual integration, we have six staff members and one administrator. Luckily we've been funded for two additional staff members, so we're going to expand our group to eight staff members and one administrator, so we are really looking forward to that. [Timestamp: 1:24]

Well I envy you, those numbers. On the AV side, I'm the Lone Ranger on my campus. I guess the good side of that is not having a whole lot of communication problems on the AV staff.

I know you were all pretty slammed at the beginning of August with the start of fall semester. That's probably the worst time of the year for AV people in the university system of Georgia, when all the big fun starts—particularly if you have a lot of adjunct faculty coming in who have never seen the AV systems on the campus before. I hear you've been phasing in some new Extron touchpanels. Where are you planning to install those and over what timeframe?
Well we're at a real interesting time over here at Kennesaw State. We just brought online our new WellStar Health Sciences building called Prillaman Hall on campus. It's a [56-million-dollar] building and for the first time ever on our campus, we're doing any real burn-in. So from August all the way through December, the building will be completely offline, which allows all of the IT service groups and the other groups on campus to get in there and do their installations and whatever else they might need to do in there. We have planned to do 50-plus installations between August and December, so we're pretty busy in there right now. [Timestamp: 2:40]

Do you have anything up there that reacts to sensors to do things automatically or anything like that?
Not in any of these classrooms we do not, no. [Timestamp: 2:49]

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AV Asset Control on a University Campus, Part 1
Called "one of the rising stars of education" by U.S. News and World Report, Atlanta's Kennesaw State University recently began an upgrade of their AV control systems to include the new Extron TouchLink touchpanel controllers...

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I had toyed with the idea at one time of putting motion sensors in the classroom because we have some people who like to leave things running and I tried at one point—the Extron MLC series panels have a great feature that lets you set a time-out period for when there's no input on the panel for that period of time and it can be set to shut down. But they would tend to leave the projectors running between classes and just come in and get started and about 15 minutes or so into the lecture, the system would shut down, and so they would have to restart it. So I had to do away with that and just set all the systems to shut down around 11 o'clock or so every night.
Chris Walston:
Well, I could definitely see us using the motion sensors on the TouchLink panels. Unfortunately, in this new building, we don't have the capability to control lighting in it right now; if we did I think we would definitely be using that motion sensor to at least turn some of the lights on and off based on that motion sensor but we just don't have the ability to do that right now. [Timestamp: 3:47]
Lewis: Yeah, we do have some MechoShades in the building and as an additional phase down the line, once we get all the classrooms online, we would like to go back and revisit that to see if we could get control of those shades to help set up certain macros or states. [Timestamp: 4:03]

Yeah, it always tends to bewilder some people when they come in and the lights go up and down or things move. Some new people can get a little weirded out about that. I noticed you've got a range of classrooms there. Do you go all the way up from bare-bones rooms that have almost nothing all the way to the Star Ship Enterprise rooms?
I would say the bare-bones rooms are still pretty well-outfitted. We have several standards on campus. We try to do that for many reasons: number one, support; number two, so our faculty can move seamlessly through the university and pretty much know what they're going to get no matter what building they're in. So as far as bare-bones, we always have some kind of video system controlled by a controller system—whether that's a touchpanel or a pushbutton system—and we always have some sort of distributed audio for source and, 90 percent of the time, spoken voice as well just to help with classroom intelligibility. But yes, we do have several events spaces and some auditoriums on campus that go above and beyond what you would see in a standard or normal type classroom installation. [Timestamp: 5:11]

And of course everybody wants those rooms. It seems like sometimes the people who need all the media gear end up with simple rooms, and those who just want a whiteboard get a room with all the fancy AV equipment. So there has to be some degree of coordination for all the facilities.
Absolutely. What we do for most new buildings on campus, we have a classroom standard and we do stick with that most of the time. But we have add and deduct alternates that the faculty, chairs, and deans can choose for their classrooms, if they want to spend the extra money or lessen the scope of work based on their budget. So we try to work with our end users to provide the best-case scenario for them to give the best return on the investment. [Timestamp: 5:57]

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