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Purchasing equipment that faculty and students can and want to use

Video conferencing technology that serves multiple purposes results in higher buy-in
University Business, October 2016
Glenn Jystad, Director of Products, Mondopad
Glenn Jystad, Director of Products, Mondopad

Many institutions have a repository of old, underutilized multimedia technology. Why is it important for tech leaders to let go of what no longer serves the needs of faculty and students, and invest in new videoconferencing tools?
The key thing IT leaders need to keep in mind is not only the awareness that technology has changed, but the reasons why it has changed. Older multimedia equipment was very simple in functionality. Sure, it made video conferencing possible, but equipment was also archaic in design and often challenging to use. Often it took patching together seven or eight separate pieces that were not built to work together to create a passable video conferencing set-up.

The technology coming out today is more accessible to faculty and students. One piece of equipment can now work for many sized rooms and many purposes. Instead of forcing professors and remote users to key in an IP address in order to gain access to a video conference, newer systems have friendly connection processes. From a deployment perspective, it is a lot simpler to instruct remote students to type in an email address to find the video conference they are meant to join. That is the kind of connection process students are used to performing in other areas of their lives.

Thanks to BYOD, tech leaders can no longer predict the types of devices that may come into a classroom. But what tools and strategies can they employ to ensure maximum compatibility between classroom systems and student devices?
Everyone comes to a meeting with a notebook, and today that notebook is in the form of a mobile device. The meeting room and classroom must allow for an extension of individual digital spaces. Not supporting BYOD is not an option. In this world, users have choice in what they want to bring to the classroom. IT departments cannot pick a “winner” to support, they need to select open video conferencing products that are compatible with all devices. These products must also have configurable platforms that can adapt along with changes in devices and how meeting rooms and classrooms are used.

What should be the top priorities when institution leaders budget for new classroom and meeting room display equipment?
Many times, an IT buyer will simple select the cheapest product possible for one particular problem they are attempting to solve. But at any given time, you have different needs for a single space. A classroom may serve traditional students during the day, but it may be the location for faculty training in the evening. Faculty that come to this room for professional development may want to project their own content to the room. Maybe they also want to push content out to remote faculty that are unable to attend the in-person meeting. It is really critical that tech leaders make purchases that are multipurpose and can accommodate any desires and devices the people who actually use the room may have. Instead of setting up different rooms on campus with different, single-function technology pieces, select a single system for every room that has a rich set of features that meet all needs.

And once institutions have spent precious budget dollars on current technology, how can they ensure faculty members use the equipment as intended for maximum ROI?
To ensure faculty buy-in and use, first of all, the technology needs to be easy to use. When something is easy to use and meets multiple needs, faculty are more likely to use it more often and become more comfortable with it. And for brand-new users of a product, help resources must be simple and easily available. For example, if a professor wants to use display technology as a whiteboard, they should not have to call the Help Desk to figure out how to navigate to the whiteboard functionality. High-quality display technology, such as the Mondopad touch screen system, will have large touch-buttons that simply name different functions, such as “whiteboard.” Users should be empowered to figure out technology on their own.

For more information, visit www.infocus.com/mondopad

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