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Expert Roundtable: Trends in Education

Sep 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Jack Kontney

Four industry experts weigh in on what's moving the market forward.

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Atlantic Technical Center features LCD video projectors and voice-lift audio systems in every classroom.

For Atlantic Technical Center in Coconut Creek, Fla., AVI-SPL designed a system that features LCD video projectors and voice-lift audio systems in every classroom.

The education market for AV installation is both segmented and expansive. In terms of needs, goals, and requirements, there are distinct differences between K-12 and higher education. Both segments are expansive in that they are seldom limited to pure AV. With the concept of student safety paramount in the minds of parents and administrators in the wake of the Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University tragedies, AV contractors are also asked to integrate AV systems with life-safety and mass-notification systems.

Our roundtable discussion includes four specialists in the education market from three major integration firms: Ron Pusey is vice president of NSCA and president and CEO of Communications Specialists in Mechanicsburg, Va.; Shane Boyce, CTS, is the primary sales engineer at Atlanta Soundworks in Fayetteville, Ga.; and finally, integration giant AVI-SPL is represented by Stephenie Scanlon, president, and Joel Dougherty, southeast regional VP.

SVC: Would you characterize the education market as a growing part of your business? If so, what forces are driving that growth?

Pusey: We have experienced steady growth over the past six to eight years, but that has leveled currently. It is still growing, but certainly no way near as fast. There are, and have been, two primary growth areas: security and life safety, and multimedia.

Scanlon: Yes, it is growing. In the K-12 market, schools are under pressure to raise and/or maintain test scores to meet state and federal standards. So the use of technology, particularly interactive whiteboards and peripherals such as document cameras, are a growing product category.

Dougherty: We see tremendous growth in the higher-education marketplace as well. Traditional brick-and-mortar institutions are facing increasing competition from nontraditional online institutions, creating demand to add interactive technologies into classrooms and lecture halls. As a result, colleges and universities are making substantial investments in technology.

Boyce: Absolutely. We have experienced tremendous growth over the past couple of years that has forced us to adapt our business model. The demand for our solutions has exceeded our expectations. Referrals and recommendations from existing clients, as well as upgrading existing legacy systems, are the biggest contributing factors to our growth.

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