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How Can Audio Visual Components Improve Collaboration Efforts?

How Can Audio Visual Components Improve Collaboration Efforts

There’s a lot of overlap between good communication and effective collaboration, and AV is focused on better communication solutions. Professional teams don’t collaborate like they used to, but audio/visual solutions have kept pace with those changes.

Millions of professionals have transitioned to remote work in just the last couple years, and this trend shows no sign of slowing down. AV collaboration hardware has been a critical part of this trend, allowing remote teams to work together as if they’re in the same room. Some of those AV collaboration solutions include:

  • Video conferencing solutions
  • Wireless presentation systems
  • Interactive flat panels
  • AV control surfaces
  • Virtual meeting rooms

Together, these AV technologies can be used to enhance collaboration for a variety of spaces and for a variety of applications.

Stronger Collaboration Starts With Video Conferencing Solutions

In the modern world of collaboration, it starts with video conferencing. It’s impossible to run a virtual or hybrid meeting without it, and even if all of your employees are in-house, video conferencing allows them to connect with each other from their own workstations.

Regarding video conferencing, the real question is what solution to choose. That depends on the size and layout of your space. A huddle room, for example, may require little more than an all-in-one conferencing bar like Poly’s Studio line of products.

A full-blown meeting room or auditorium, though, will need a scaled-up conferencing solution. Poly’s room or immersive telepresence products are one option. There’s also Zoom Rooms, which leverage the popularity and usability of the Zoom platform with hardware from reputable manufacturers.

Wireless Presentation Systems Allow Users To Collaborate With Their Own Devices

In the past few years, companies have prioritized easier connectivity, better cleanliness and faster meetings. Wireless presentation systems can support all three, and several manufacturers have expedited several such solutions to the market since 2020. Solutions that include Crestron’s AirMedia, Mersive’s Solstice, Barco’s ClickShare and Clevertouch Clevershare.

All four solutions allow users to walk into the room, connect their own device to the room’s technology and immediately begin presenting. Users can connect with a dongle – they only need to port it in, hit a button and follow the on-screen prompts. They can also connect through an app, again by following on-screen prompts.

Either way, as soon as the user is connected, they have control of the room’s conferencing equipment. They can start a call, set lighting and audio, and push content from their own device to the room’s display. It’s a more comfortable, more efficient way to spark collaboration.

Integrate An Interactive Flat Panel And Add Another Dimension To Your Meetings

Interactive flat panels may look like basic commercial displays, but they do much more than just display. Interactive flat panels like the Clevertouch allow people to add a tactile element to their meetings, which can make for more engaging collaboration.

How? An interactive flat panel allows the meeting presenter to effortlessly move through their presentation, using simple gestures to scrub through documents, slideshows, and media. Because the presenter doesn’t need to rely on their eyes to steer the meeting, they can focus on taking questions and suggestions from the other meeting participants.

Interactive flat panels can also be used to bring in media directly from the web. The Clevertouch, for example, comes with a built-in browser that the presenter can use to incorporate images and videos. This can improve engagement and help the meeting’s other participants follow what’s going on better.

AV Control Surfaces Enable Room Scheduling And Better Room Management

AV control surfaces are used to manage a variety of AV technologies and solutions. They also make it easier for your teams to meet and begin collaborating.

Several brands produce control surfaces, including Crestron and AMX. While some AV controls still operate on tactile switches, most companies prioritize touchscreen control for their collaboration spaces.

There are a few reasons for this, including:

AV Control Surfaces Can Be Used With Any Room Technology

AV controls are designed to manage the kind of modern technologies you would find in a collaboration space. Whether it’s a huddle room or a full auditorium, AV control surfaces can manage all of its conferencing hardware, lighting and audio.

Every User Can Be Set Up With Their Own Configuration Profile

Everyone can set their preferences ahead of time, so with a single screen tap, each user can configure the lighting and audio, launch a call, and begin collaborating instantly.

AV Controls Can Make Room Scheduling And Reserving More Effective

Room scheduling and reservation software can improve collaboration by ensuring there’s adequate meeting space when your teams need it. AV controls enhance the impact of room scheduling initiatives and can prompt users for a password associated with their reservation, or set the room’s lighting and audio ahead of time.

Collaborate Anywhere, Even In Space, With Virtual Meeting Rooms

It may be a little while yet before we’re all meeting in virtual reality (VR), but some companies are already using it for their meetings. VR meeting software allows remote teams to meet in a shared virtual space, one that can be modeled to look like anything. Meet on the moon if that’s what your team wants to do.

Aside from the novelty, VR meetings give participants an array of collaborative tools that can greatly improve creativity and engagement. For instance, in a virtual meeting, any user can pop a whiteboard or any piece of media into existence at any time – as long as they have the permissions to do so. This makes for a free-flowing collaborative experience that’s particularly helpful for creative teams.

A Certified AV Integrator Like Data Projections Can Optimize Your Collaboration Efforts

With audio visual components and solutions, there are a lot of ways to improve your organization’s collaboration. To get the most out of those solutions, though, you’ll need an integrator you can trust. In the AV industry, trust starts with industry certification and experience, and Data Projections can provide both for your team.

What Makes a Good AV Integrator in Austin

What Makes a Good AV Integrator in Austin

Austin is an AV haven, with more than 250 music venues, a world-class university and countless eclectic galleries, restaurants, and shops. It’s also home to sprawling corporate campuses, including major Apple, Dell, General Motors, Home Depot, IBM, Oracle, VISA and Whole Foods offices, among many others.

A city of innovation and communication, Austin is also an exciting place to be an AV integrator. With thousands of businesses, galleries, museums, performance venues and educational spaces spread throughout the city, there’s room for AV solutions everywhere you turn.

With so many diverse spaces to work with, though, Austin businesses and venues need an experienced, certified AV integrator to manage their audiovisual projects. If your organization is looking to modernize its communications, an Austin-based integrator is your go-to technology partner.

What AV Solutions Can a Certified Austin Integrator Offer?

AV integrators in Austin can provide an array of communication and productivity-enhancing solutions. These solutions include:

Video conferencing solutions

Video conferencing solutions include both hardware and software platforms and are essential for keeping remote and hybrid teams communicating. You’ll find them in most meeting rooms, including huddle spaces.

Digital signage

Digital signage consists of networked digital displays, media players and digital signage software. Together, they can be used to display any kind of information or media, usually for brand-building and foot traffic-generating purposes.

Wireless presentation solutions

Wireless presentation solutions allow users to connect to a room’s AV presentation technology from their own device. Once connected, the user can control the room’s technology and run an engaging media campaign without touching a single room control.

Interactive displays

Interactive displays are ideal companions to video conferencing solutions. With an interactive display, users can deliver lessons or presentations using simple, smartphone-like gestures. They’re also powerful collaboration drivers, giving teams additional tools for visual brainstorming.

Control systems

AV control systems consolidate your room’s hardware for easy control, providing a single interface through which video conferencing, audio, lighting and climate control systems can be managed. Some control systems are tactile, using elements like wall switches. Others utilize digital touchscreens for easier use.

Educational solutions

AV integrators can provide several educational solutions, designed to improve lesson engagement and classroom management. Interactive displays are one such solution, as are products like makerspace solutions and AR/VR solutions.

What Should Organizations Look For In An Austin AV Integrator?

Although AV technology is easier than ever to use, Austin organizations are scaling up their AV projects all the time. The modern office doesn’t have one large conference room – it has many smaller huddle rooms – all of which require at least some AV technologies.

The typical AV solution has grown in complexity, making it impossible for most organizations to plan and execute their AV projects in-house. That’s where an Austin AV integrator comes in, but not just any AV integrator. Here’s what you’ll want in the integrator you choose:

Certification Through Major AV Industry Associations

AV certification is a critical part of the education process for new and experienced members of the industry. During certification, technicians learn the fundamentals of AV system design, installation, and maintenance. Certification tracks also instruct technicians on best practices and industry ethics, so they are prepared for the customer service side as well.

There are numerous certification programs available to AV professionals. Some of the most notable include:

  • AVIXA’s Certified Technology Specialist (CTS) – The Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association (AVIXA) is the AV industry’s most respected professional association. Formally known as Infocomm, AVIXA connects industry professionals together, hosts industry events, and provides a wealth of certification coursework.Its CTS certification introduces technicians to the fundamentals of AV project management and execution. This includes system design and installation concepts, performing a needs analysis and site survey, and assessing system performance. CTS certification is further subdivided into installation (CTS-I) and design (CTS-D) tracks, so installation technicians and designers can specialize.CTS certification, in all of its forms, provides the essential concepts that AV technicians need to compete in the industry. Ideally, the integrator you choose will staff many CTS certified technicians.
  • Crestron Certification Tracks – Crestron is a top provider of AV technology and is the chosen brand for Microsoft-based solutions. As such, many AV integrators prioritize certification in Crestron products.Crestron does offer several certification tracks, including core (general), field technician/engineer, design, programmer, sales, lighting, and Flex programs. Crestron also offers a few master certifications, including master technology architect, master programmer and master sales associate.If your organization is interested in Crestron solutions, the above certifications are a must in any integrator you’re considering.
  • Audio Certification, Like Shure or Biamp Certification – It’s easy to get caught up in the video side of the AV equation, but there’s also audio to consider. To ensure your organization gets the best it can, you’ll need an integrator certified with a leading audio brand.Those brands include Shure and Biamp. Both are accomplished manufacturers of audio technology, so you’ll become familiar with them if your organization needs conference room microphones, for example.

Experience In The Industry Your Austin Organization Operates In

Every industry utilizes AV solutions a bit differently than the next. An auto dealership may use digital signage to show video footage of vehicles in motion. A restaurant could use it for food photography or videos of food preparation. It’s a subtle difference, but one that could be relevant to the business and their target audience.

There are many subtleties in AV design, so pick an integrator who has worked with organizations like yours. With this prior experience, the integrator will know what solutions will work best for your Austin business.

A Long-term Commitment To Their Clients

Certified, experienced integrators know that the job isn’t over once installation is done. Ongoing support is needed to optimize the solution (following user feedback) and preserve its performance over the long run. To do this, an integrator will offer an extended maintenance contract as an important solution for ongoing support. A maintenance contract will usually include technical support and network troubleshooting. It may also include additional training and preventative maintenance, which is valuable for spotting and resolving performance-sapping issues before they arise.

If an integrator isn’t willing to support their own solutions, it’s fair to wonder why. To be safe, stick with Austin AV integrators that offer extended maintenance agreements.

An Austin AV Integrator Can Launch and Support Your AV Solutions

A certified Austin AV integrator is a valuable technology partner, as long as they have the right credentials for the job. Industry certifications, relevant experience and an extended client outlook are all positive integrator indicators, and you’ll want them all in your integrator to optimize your AV solution’s long-term value.

AVaaS and the Economy

AVaaS and the Economy

One Major Advantage of AVaaS: Avoiding Inflated Technology Prices

It’s 2022 and prices are up everywhere, across nearly every industry. The Consumer Price Index hit a 40-year high in March, so inflation is a problem no matter what you’re looking to buy.

That’s also the case for electronics and technology, both of which have been hit particularly hard by global supply chain crises. There are multiple bottlenecks involved, both in labor and in material, and there’s been plenty of coverage on the shortage of microchips.

There’s no indication on when these supply pressures will cease, but even as they persist, businesses and schools are still in need of AV solutions to power better communications. One way to get this technology without the associated inflated capital costs is through an AVaaS agreement with your integrator.

How Are Electronics Manufacturers Responding to Supply Chain Issues?

According to the IPC, a standards-making association for the electronics industry, seven out of 10 electronics manufacturers expect to increase prices during 2022. Among them, those companies expect an average price increase of about 8 percent.

With supply-side pressure extremely high, electronics manufacturers are responding by increasing prices, likely until demand cools off. There’s no telling, though, when that will occur. If your organization needs AV now, AVaaS is one way around this uncertainty.

Introducing AVaaS: Your Inflation-proof Technology Solution

AVaaS stands for AV-as-a-Service, and it’s modeled similarly after other as-a-service services. Software-as-a-Service, or SaaS, is a notable example.

With AVaaS, there’s no need to make major capital investments (CapEx) into AV technology. Instead, AVaaS utilizes an OpEx payment model, so your organization pays a manageable monthly fee instead of making a large, upfront capital expense.

The price of those capital expenses is going up rapidly, but AVaaS rates can be locked in with an integrator, so in at least one area, your organization won’t have to worry about inflation.

Five More Benefits of AVaaS

There’s a lot more to like about AVaaS, however. In addition to protecting your company against inflated electronics prices, AVaaS also provides the following advantages:

Budgeting Simplicity and Accuracy

The problem with the CapEx model is that it’s difficult to forecast when those capital expenses will be necessary and how much they will cost. Capital costs are affected by a myriad of factors that are difficult to track, so if your organization relies on the occasional capital infusion, it may feel like your budget spikes every now and then.

It’s a challenge to budget around that, and with AVaaS you don’t have to. Once locked into an AVaaS agreement, you’ll know what your organization is paying monthly well into the future. That’s much easier to plan a technology budget around, and it gives your business additional financial flexibility.

Endless Flexibility and Scalability

Your AVaaS solution can be modified as needed, so as your AV requirements develop, your AVaaS resources can be further developed as well.

When it’s time to replace or upgrade your AV technology, your integrator can provide the appropriate hardware and adjust your monthly AVaaS fee accordingly. In most cases, this fee adjustment is modest and far less impactful than an equivalent capital expense.

It’s common for businesses to scale their AV resources up once a solution has been fully adopted inside the company. AVaaS makes this scalability possible without major budgeting disruptions.

Ongoing System Support and Maintenance

Along with your new hardware, AVaaS also comes with expert support. In effect, you’re not just renting AV hardware – you’re renting an entire AV department. That means your AVaaS solution will be regularly inspected for performance and, if necessary, your partnered integrator can troubleshoot and resolve any performance-sapping issues.

Most AV-related technical issues can be quickly remedied by a certified integrator. That’s why AVaaS solutions also come with on-demand technical support, provided remotely or onsite as needed.

A Long Term Partnership With an AV Technology Expert

With an AVaaS agreement, you’ll always have an AV expert backing you up. That’s valuable when it’s time for your system to receive support, as your organization will always have a solution that’s operating at peak capacity.

It’s also helpful to have an integrator on your side when it’s time to make AV-relevant decisions. Is your AV solution not making the impact you were hoping for? Do your teams need additional training with the technology? Is there a technology that could offer more than your existing hardware?

A certified AV integrator can provide expert answers to these questions, so when it’s time to make changes to your solution, you’ll always know the right decision to make.

An Opportunity to Test Drive Some New Technology

There’s no budget-breaking commitment associated with AVaaS solutions, so you can essentially look before you leap when signing onto an AVaaS agreement. If your initial AV setup doesn’t provide the return you’re looking for, no big deal. Make a few adjustments here, a tweak there and you can work through any number of AV configurations before landing on the one that works best for your teams. And you can do that without making a single significant capital investment.

A Trusted AV Integrator Can Set Up a Custom AVaaS Solution For Your Organization

As compelling an option as AVaaS is, your AVaaS solution is only as effective as the integrator you work with. A certified AV integrator can provide immense value through an AVaaS agreement, with superior technology, system design and expertise on offer. Add in the budget-friendliness and inflation resistance that comes with AVaaS, and it’s a clear winner for organizations of any size and in any industry.

Episode 10: Hooked on Innovation – Ed Tech for the Future

Particularly in recent years, education technology has become an integral part of learning for students. Although some campuses adopted modern technology during the height of the pandemic mainly to facilitate virtual or remote education, the result is that it has enabled most schools today to have access to technology for use inside the classroom as students return to in-person learning.

The Biggest Technology Struggle for Schools Returning to In-Person Education After Virtual Learning

The goal of incorporating technology in the classroom should be to help teachers better educate students to have a brighter future.

At the beginning of the pandemic, many schools were in a state of educational triage in which once they obtained funds, they bought modern technology devices and then put them in the hands of students for use at home to supplement virtual learning. Once that was achieved and virtual learning continued, students settled into a bit of a routine with this remote technology.

However, when schools experienced the end of virtual learning and students returned to the classroom, many schools shunned the technology once used for virtual learning because few were sure how to incorporate those methods into the in-person classroom experience.

In reality, technology that was once used solely for virtual learning can also be used as a blended learning tool to enhance a student’s education. However, as much of the nation transitions into a new normal amidst the COVID pandemic, it is becoming clearer that educators have not been provided with the instruction they need to be able to effectively incorporate this technology into the in-person classroom.

Technology is needed in our schools, and if it is not being used properly it can be a struggle for educators, which leads to frustration for teachers and missed learning opportunities for students.

What Technology Looks Like in Education Today

In a roundabout way, the pandemic became a champion of using technology in a positive way. It enabled the education industry to continue teaching children when it was not possible to do so in person.

When used the right way and with the right instruction, technology can be an amazingly effective supplemental learning tool for remote, mobile, hybrid, and in-person learning.

Classrooms today tend to fall in one of the below categories:

  • Repetitive technology-based classroom. These classrooms, whether it is due to lack of funds and/or knowledge of how to operate certain devices, tend to focus on repetitive learning via the same basic technology tools for students, such as online worksheets or learning games.
  • Flipped classroom. These classrooms were highly advocated for before the pandemic, but not every school had the means or desire to create this type of learning environment, which incorporates mobile devices into the in-person classroom experience. Those that did pre-pandemic were largely successful at switching to virtual learning. Those that were not able to provide a flipped classroom pre-pandemic may now be able to thanks to the accessibility of technology that was used for virtual learning.
  • Advanced classroom. These classrooms have increased access to creative experiences thanks to virtual reality platforms that allow them to experience learning in an entirely different way. As amazing as virtual reality is, this technology can be pricey and not within everyone’s school budget, and for that reason is not frequently used.

Essentially, educators are doing their best to balance normalcy with the constant forward motion of technology. It can be difficult to strike the right balance, especially if educators do not have the support they need in place, and it may look different from one campus to another.

Technological Trends in 2022

As an advocate for technology integration in the classroom, Carl Hooker has held a variety of roles including teacher and administrator during his more than twenty years in the education industry. This experience allows him a unique perspective on things he expects to continue to see in 2022, such as:

  • A new digital divide. While there is still some digital divide between students who have more access to technology than those who do not, the gap is growing somewhat smaller each year. There is still work to do in this area. In some ways, the new digital divide is between educators who do know how to effectively use modern technology in the classroom and those that do not. This divide can potentially be made smaller if more educators are equipped with the tools and knowledge needed for success in this area.
  • Increased reach. In some schools, taking a foreign language requires them to be bussed over to another school to learn something that could be done via modern technology that does not require a bus ride to another campus. As educators become equipped with ways to harness technology to their benefit, there will likely be an increase in reach and opportunities for students.
  • Forward-thinking. While not all schools are ready to jump right in and invest in new technology, forward thinking schools are at the bare minimum paying attention to where it is headed in the education industry. This attention to detail will allow them to more wisely and readily invest when the time comes.

Despite all of the above trends for 2022, Hooker argues there is still much to be said for valuing the relationship between a teacher and student that encourages inspiration and creativity. Technology is incredibly valuable, but equally if not more so is the personal connection a student and teacher can develop through learning.

More from Carl Hooker

Carl Hooker has used his personal experience in the education field to pen a book called, Ready, Set, FAIL! In the book, Hooker encourages the reader to recognize that individually we all have failures that can shape us for the better. He focuses on encouraging teachers to do thoughtful risk-taking in a supportive environment, to navigate thoughtful risk-taking in an unsupportive environment, and to realize that creativity is often born out of obstacles.

Hooker does address technology in the classroom, but it is centered more on the principles of taking thoughtful risks and being more resilient from failure. Although the book is geared specifically toward educators, many across other industries have found the concept of seeing failure as progress if something is learned from it useful.

Technology should have a place at the education table, but thoughtful and effective implementation is required for it to better serve the teacher, student, and overall learning experience, in whatever form that takes.

Best Practices For Teacher Videos

Best Practices For Teacher Videos

Best Practices For Teacher Videos

School districts are embracing video creation for their teachers and students, giving educators the power of technology to deliver better lesson content. Students respond well to video lessons, especially if they are available on demand. With an inventory of class videos available, students can perform research, answer homework questions, and improve their understanding wherever and whenever.

The goal for teachers is to create videos that teach students in an engaging manner. However, that’s not always as easy as it sounds. Technology doesn’t provide the same kind of feedback that students do, and teaching in front of a camera requires an adjustment period. However, with the right video solutions in place, your teachers will be more comfortable and more effective – and produce better videos as a result.

How to Capture Better Video in the Classroom

Good instructional videos start with good video capturing. If the room is too dark, if the room’s acoustics are bad, or if the instructor isn’t well framed, the audience will be distracted instead of paying attention to important information.

There are a few simple tools that can overcome these production issues, though. For example:

  • Need better lighting? – There are numerous inexpensive products that can add a bit more lighting to your videos. You don’t need professional-level lighting to set up teaching videos, and most solutions are compact enough to fit on a desk or nearby shelf. Ring lights and light cubes are popular options, and many can mount to a laptop for easier positioning.
  • Need better framing? – Teachers need to stay in frame for students to maintain their focus on the video. To minimize framing fuss, add a PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) camera for video capturing. An automated PTZ camera will follow the instructor as they move around the room, ensuring they remain in sight at all times. This is a good choice for teachers who record lessons they’re delivering to in-class students.
  • Need better audio? – Clear audio is also essential for lesson delivery, and teachers can either use a worn microphone or utilize the microphone built into an interactive display. In both cases, the teacher will be easily heard over any ambient noise.

A Couple of Solutions That Make Teaching Videos More Interesting

The above solutions will work for most traditional lectures, but what if you want to bring in some visually heavy concepts or a lot of notes? Ideally, you’d have a way to present text, images, and ideas clearly through the video. This is a challenge for teachers who rely on a traditional whiteboard because those don’t show up well on video.

Instead, consider one of these solutions to better integrate annotating and media into your teachers’ video lessons:

  • Interactive flat panels and whiteboarding – With an interactive flat panel like the Clevertouch, teachers can record a whiteboarding session and audio at the same time. The instructor annotates on the board while speaking, as if they were using a physical whiteboard during a lesson. Through the Clevertouch, teachers can also bring in images or videos to supplement the lesson visually. When finished, the teacher can upload the video to a secure library for students to review later.
  • eGlass – eGlass is made for lesson delivery, utilizing a camera, a transparent dry erase board and a light to function. During operation, the teacher stands behind the board and writes on it normally. The camera records this and outputs it to video.
    The effect is professional-level and minimalist. Nothing appears in frame except for the instructor and what they write on the transparent board, which isn’t visible. The instructor can wear a microphone for audio pickup.

Schools Also Need Secure Video Storage and Management Solutions

So, you’ve got a deep collection of excellent teaching videos. You followed all the production tips and are using the best technology to craft the best learning experience for every student. The question now is: Where are you going to put those videos?

Some schools use YouTube as their video library of choice, but there are issues there. YouTube is open to the world, and it’s difficult to monitor activity on the platform. In many ways, it’s not the ideal platform for schools.

A leading educational alternative is DEVOS, available through Discover Video. DEVOS is a video storage and management solution specifically designed for schools. Some of its features include:

  • Video distribution to any device – DEVOS can capture video from a variety of sources and deliver that audio to any device, whether it’s a desktop, laptop, tablet, or phone. Video can also be delivered to any networked video outputs, like in-class televisions.
  • Stream and securely store video content – DEVOS can stream and prerecord videos for later viewing. In both instances, the video will be securely stored in a password-protected library that only staff and students with permission can access.
  • Remote, back-end user management – Through DEVOS’s cloud-based management platform, IT can create and remove user profiles, and set permissions for each user. That way, only users with the necessary permissions can record, publish, or access video content.
  • Viewer restrictions – DEVOS also allows administrators to restrict access to videos by delivering only to certain devices or requiring viewers to input a password first. This isn’t YouTube where privacy is difficult to maintain.
  • Teachers and students retain video rights – Schools and those involved in video production retain rights to all video content. Remember that public video platforms like YouTube assume limited rights over the video as soon as it’s uploaded to the platform.
  • Compatibility with learning management systems – DEVOS can also be integrated with popular learning management systems (LMS). Once done, educators can organize the video they create into multi-part lessons for more effective instruction.

The Best Video Instruction Engages All Learners

As learning tools, videos work so well because humans are visually focused. However, some students have accessibility concerns that make it difficult for them to take part in the lesson. Just because they can see the screen doesn’t mean they can follow the discussion.

To ensure your videos are accessible to all your students, consider pairing every video with closed captioning. This is an add-on feature available to DEVOS users, which is another reason to consider it.

Allowing students to access video lessons on their time solves additional accessibility concerns. Students learn at different speeds, and some do better without classroom distractions. A video on demand library will help every learner reinforce lesson material and perform better, as a result.

A Certified Integrator Can Help Your Teachers Create Better Learning Content

Video production solutions can do a lot for your school, including improving lesson creation and delivery. Setting up video production technology isn’t a simple job, though, which is why most schools and universities bring in a certified AV integrator to help.

An experienced AV integrator can help clients map out their video production system and select the right hardware for the job. Integrators can also position and install the equipment, and help schools configure their technology so it’s ready to go as soon as it’s installed.

An integrator can also provide ongoing support for your AV technology, including any video production and streaming equipment. This includes remote, onsite, and preventative maintenance, as well as training, so your teachers can start creating better video lessons immediately.

The Impressive Value of Zoom Phone Solutions

The Impressive Value of Zoom Phone Solutions

By now, we’re all familiar with the Zoom platform, Zoom’s app, and its industry-leading approach to video conferencing service. Zoom allows for simple and secure virtual meetings, whether your teams operate internally or remotely.

Zoom’s video conferencing solutions, though, aren’t the only products under the Zoom umbrella. For instance, Zoom Phone makes it simple for users to communicate over the cloud, leveraging traditional PBX features and PSTN architecture to do so. With Zoom Phone, users get the reliability of a Zoom meeting, along with numerous features that anyone can handle, regardless of their experience with technology.

Zoom Phone Brings Flexibility To Your Cloud Phone System

It’s always a challenge to establish a new method of communication inside a company but Zoom Phone’s flexibility makes it as simple as possible. Any business or organization can integrate it with ease and begin making calls right away. Here’s how:

Zoom Phone supports a mobile, remote team –

To some extent, most businesses rely on remote teams to maintain operations. The challenge is setting up communications for those team members, and Zoom Phone is up to it.

On premise, legacy hardware is not compatible with modern remote work. Legacy phone services aren’t designed for remote teams, either. The problem, of course, is that remote workers cannot use an on-premises phone solution. Instead, they have to rely on their own device to contact coworkers and customers.

This is a multifaceted problem for IT. For one, it’s impossible for IT to secure a user’s smartphone when they are making company or client calls. It’s also impossible (and a potential privacy headache) for IT to manage a user’s smartphone. This removes the ability to update the platform’s version or troubleshoot communication issues.

There are issues for remote employees, too. Because they don’t have access to the company’s PBX features, they don’t have vital support tools for admins, sales, and customer management.

Zoom Phone removes all of this confusion by providing a single unified cloud PBX platform for users to access. Everyone has the call features they need, whether they’re onsite or a world away.

Zoom Phone allows for simple end-user management –

End-users don’t have to wrestle with the phones once they arrive. IT and department managers can build out permissions, provision numbers for users, and group those users together for easy management.

Managers can set up call groups, set up call queues, track call logs and monitor call quality at each phone. There’s plenty of data to consider, and IT can use this information to optimize the company’s audio quality.

Zoom Phone removes the need for additional phones and devices –

During implementation, it’s common for new solutions to raise questions about old technology. Zoom Phone, though, is a perfect merger between familiar hardware and modern software.

With Zoom Phone, businesses aren’t locked into a proprietary legacy product. That’s because multiple, reputable manufacturers support Zoom Phone solutions with their own off-the-shelf desktop telephone. You have options at multiple price points, so organizations can set up a Zoom Phone system across all departments without any gaps.

Five More Valuable Features Packaged With Zoom Phone Solutions

Zoom Phones are simple to set up and manage, but the value of Zoom Phone goes well beyond that. All types of Zoom Phone solutions come replete with productivity-enhancing features, including:

  1. Integration with other Zoom products – While Zoom Phone can operate as a standalone solution for your company’s communications, it can also be integrated into a larger, Zoom-based communications strategy. For example, your Zoom Phone calls may start out as voice only. If needed, though, a Zoom call can be quickly ported over to a Zoom meeting or video conference. That way, your team can set up their virtual meetings how they see fit, as the process is seamless.
  2. Advanced call monitoring features – Zoom Phones come with several call monitoring options for admins, so they can check in on team members without disrupting communication. If the admin wants to take over the call, they can, or just enter as a third party. If, though, the admin prefers to observe or guide without commanding attention, they can listen without other parties being aware or “whisper” to a single user without others hearing.
  3. Line sharing and delegation – Admins can set up shared lines so users can answer on each other’s behalf. This is extremely helpful for call centers that answer from the same pool of customers. It’s also useful when someone is out of the office or on vacation. Set up line sharing and an assistant can take calls for an executive. Or, when an employee is out for an extended leave, delegate their line to another team member and no communication will slip through the cracks.
  4. Auto-receptionist capabilities – Zoom Phone allows admins to also set up auto-attendants so that when people call, they are routed to the right person. A virtual attendant specifies each option for customers, and each option is assigned to a particular Zoom Phone for efficient call-handling. If your company doesn’t have a receptionist on hand to filter through calls, an auto-receptionist is the next best thing.
  5. Phone and user search – A major time and frustration-saver is Zoom Phone’s searchability. Through Zoom’s auto-receptionist feature, callers can search for a particular Zoom Phone user inside the company, using either their name or number. You don’t need to know the user’s extension to call them, in other words.

Reach Out To Your Trusted AV Integrator For Ongoing Zoom Phone Support

Zoom Phones are a modern facelift to a reliable, but aging piece of technology. They provide the kind of PBX features that people want in their work phones, along with the security and usability that the Zoom brand is known for.

Your company will get even more from its Zoom Phones when working with a trusted AV integrator. An AV provider can help support and maintain your Zoom Phone solution, providing technical expertise if there are call quality or reliability issues. Your integrator can also work with Zoom to determine an optimal match between your company’s needs and Zoom Phone products.

Why AV Integrators Partner with Manufacturers

Why AV Integrators Partner with Manufacturers

AV Integrator and Manufacturer Partnerships: How They Benefit Our Clients

It’s accepted practice within the AV industry for integrators to partner with certain manufacturers. There are several good reasons for this, and they all benefit the integrator’s clients. The AV industry, like every industry, has leaders and laggers when it comes to hardware and solution quality. An integrator’s job is to partner with leading manufacturers and help clients avoid solutions that won’t meet their needs.

Our Manufacturer Partnerships Allow Us To Offer More To Clients

As a partner, AV integrators specialize in the products and solutions manufactured by partnered vendors. There isn’t a limit to how many partnered manufacturers an integrator can work with as AV integrators don’t work for the manufacturer. If you’re working with a reputable integrator (like us), every AV solution is built to fill a need, not a quota.

In fact, reputable integrators leverage our manufacturer partnerships to provide more to our clients. Some of those advantages include:

Access To Advanced Certification Programs

AV technologies are developing at record speed, and if an integrator doesn’t keep up with those changes, they won’t be able to offer their clients the most effective solutions.

Certification is how AV technicians, installers, designers and project managers maintain their industry knowledge. Certification is also a commitment to AV excellence, so it’s highly recommended to choose a certified integrator when considering AV.

Most top certification programs are offered by top AV manufacturers – the Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association (AVIXA) is a notable exception. By partnering with these top manufacturers, AV integrators gain the inside track on accessing and enrolling into certification programs as they open up. Manufacturers also respond to integrator feedback when building their certification curriculum, and integrator feedback largely consists of client concerns. That means partnered integrators shape the industry in a client-focused direction.

Design And Installation Assistance

Experienced AV integrators are well-versed in AV installation and design methods, but every project is different. Every project presents its own challenges, and these challenges may involve designing or installing a solution.

Integrator teams can overcome most of these challenges, but it’s common for AV professionals to consult with the manufacturers regarding best installation, design or use practices. Doing so ensures integrators can provide the best possible return on AV investment for their clients.

Manufacturer partnerships give integrators additional access to support personnel and better, faster answers to installation or design questions.

Access To Latest Technology Developments

Partnered AV integrators are the first to receive notice of new features or technologies coming down the pike. And new features and technologies are being pushed out at a record pace. The rise of remote work across nearly every industry has greatly expanded the AV market, and manufacturers are competing with better and better solutions.

It’s far easier for AV integrators to remain on top of these developments if they are partnered with the manufacturer. Manufacturers communicate with their partnered integrators first, sending out news alerts and technical resources that prepare integrators. By the time new solutions or features are available to our clients, we’ve already had a chance to get familiar with them. That greatly improves the quality and availability of training, which will help your team get more from the technology.

More Reliable Hardware And Solutions

A common question put to AV integrators is whether they can offer an alternative to a partnered manufacturer’s product. Integrators can, but they may prefer not to. There are a couple reasons for this.

For one, reputable integrators only partner with reputable manufacturers. Reputable manufacturers offer the most effective and reliable AV solutions on the market. Partner solutions aren’t recommended for business reasons, but because they provide maximum value to clients. It’s understandable why businesses, schools and other organizations prioritize price to the degree they do, but an unreliable solution is far more expensive to compensate for.

Also, integrators tend to be more familiar with the products their partners provide. This added familiarity makes it easier for AV professionals to support and maintain partner solutions over time. As most SMBs require added support for their AV solutions, integrators prefer to install solutions they can thoroughly support.

Reduced Hardware Pricing And Greater Product Availability

AV integrators are able to secure preferential pricing through their manufacturer partnerships, and these savings are passed on to the client. The larger your AV project, the greater your savings, too.

Hardware availability is also an advantage of manufacturer partnerships, as partnered AV companies are the first in line for products. This may not have been a major advantage a few years ago, but it’s huge during a time when supply chains are badly stressed. If your organization is having trouble sourcing its AV hardware, working with a well-connected integrator can help expedite your timelines.

This is particularly important if you’re considering AV-as-a-Service, or AVaaS. With AVaaS, companies pay for their AV solutions monthly, instead of investing a ton of capital upfront. There are numerous benefits to AVaaS solutions, including the flexibility to switch our alternative hardware and solutions if needed. To do this, though, you’ll need an integrator who has good manufacturer connections.

Our Manufacturer Partnerships Ultimately Benefit Our Clients

There are hundreds of AV manufactures and solution providers in the industry, offering thousands of products between them. It’s a lot to keep up with, even for AV integrators. The answer to this challenge is partnering with leading manufacturers.

Establishing manufacturer partnerships means we can pass on several benefits to our clients, including more reliable and cost-effective products. It means better solution support, better training, and therefore, better results for your AV solution.

Deliver Better Customer Service Anywhere With CXUnify

Deliver Better Customer Service Anywhere With CXUnify

CXUnify is a cloud-based set of solutions bundled together into the same ecosystem. Together, CXUnify solutions provide logistics and always-there AV solution monitoring and support. Remote AV monitoring software isn’t new – several AV manufacturers have their own version – but CXUnify is brand agnostic, so it can be used with any mainstream AV solution.

Monitoring a large AV solution and responding to errors is costly for companies. If it’s handled in house, monitoring and support is typically provided by IT personnel. That’s a lot to put on IT, and not every IT department is equipped for AV support. For these businesses, CXUnify is a cost-effective alternative.

What Solutions Are Available With The CXUnify Ecosystem?

There are four solutions packaged within the CXUnify family and each covers a different aspect of AV management. They include:

  • CXLogistics
  • CXDetect
  • CXSupport
  • Teleportivity

Let’s take a closer look at each.

CXLogistics Simplifies Large Project Staging

CXLogistics uses an in-house collection of distributors to ensure your large scale projects are executed without a hitch. Specifically, CXLogistics can be used to stage large initiatives and get hardware to where it’s needed on time.

Combine CXLogistics with Teleportivity and it will be far easier to keep track of important documentation, like technical drawings and user manuals.

CXDetect Can Be Used to Monitor an Entire Network of UC or AV Solutions

CXDetect is the heart of CXUnify’s system management capabilities. There are other AV management solutions that function like CXDetect to an extent, but most of them are provided through manufacturers and are only compatible with the manufacturer’s equipment. However, CXUnify is brand-agnostic, so it can be used with all popular AV brands without compatibility issues.

CXDetect can be used to manage AV and UC devices from a single interface, and this, along with its agnostic design, means CXDetect can replace several technology management solutions.

Multiple rooms and platforms can be managed through CXDetect, so users can check the health of any room and any AV/UC technology in the room. Group devices for easy management, monitor their health in real-time, and control them remotely.

CXDetect also offers a few added features, depending on the hardware brand in use. For example, CXDetect can be used with a PC running a Zoom Room. From CXDetect, users can reboot the Zoom application or the PC running Zoom. You can also control audio volume and set USB failover preferences.

If your rooms rely on Sync-enabled Logitech equipment, CXDetect can be used to push over firmware updates. It can also be used with AI-enabled cameras to detect and count the number of participants in the room. This can be used to verify optimal use of conferencing spaces.

With Teleportivity and CXSupport, You Can Maintain On-Demand Video Resources and Live Support for Every Space

Teleportivity is CXUnity’s on-demand video portal, allowing organizations to deliver any type of media resources, wherever they are needed. Teleportivity does not require an app to run – users only have to scan a QR code to bring up the relevant video, image or document. This provides maximum convenience and precision in a single software package.

In practice, Teleportivity is extremely flexible, with plenty of time and resource-saving applications. For example, Teleportivity QR codes can be paired with troubleshooting documentation, tailored for every room. If users have issues operating the room’s hardware, support documentation can save a call to tech support.

If additional support is needed, CXSupport (CXUnity’s live support solution) can leverage Teleportivity to offer live help as soon as it’s needed. Place a QR code in the room that’s tied to CXSupport, and support staff will respond through live video. Again, no application is required.

Three Advantages of CXUnify Solutions

CXUnify is designed for modern AV system management and offers several benefits to organizations. Three of those benefits include:

Faster, More Effective Technical Support

When technical issues do arise, the resulting downtime is costly. Minutes count, in other words, and CXUnify saves as many of those minutes as possible. With CXUnify, your teams can access help instantly and resolve the issue right away.

Live support via Teleportivity also provides IT with additional information, including space-specific data on the devices in the room and their status. This accelerates the support process, minimizes downtime, and minimizes user frustration.

Reduced Load on IT Personnel

CXUnify helps out your IT team as well. As mentioned, Teleportivity provides IT with helpful information for better troubleshooting and problem resolution.

With better information, IT also has a better idea of when it needs a person onsite and when support can be provided remotely. If your IT team is just down the hall from the offending space, no big deal. If your IT team is across town, reducing truck rolls is a matter of time and money. CXUnify keeps those truck rolls to a minimum.

Precise Control of Large-Scale AV and UC Solutions

The more your AV solutions grow, the more difficult it will be to monitor and maintain them. CXUnify keeps your AV technology under control, so organizations of any size can operate AV solutions of any size.

Your Trusted AV Integrator Can Set Up CXUnify and Monitor Your Solutions

CXUnify is an AV management solution, and it’s best handled by AV professionals. With a certified integrator on hand to implement them, CXUnify solutions can provide your organization with better AV oversight. And, if needed, an integrator can also provide a tech support and an AV monitoring team for your organization.

Four Most Common Conference Room Issues and How Your AV Integrator Can Help

Four Most Common Conference Room Issues and How Your AV Integrator Can Help

The Four Most Common Conference Room Issues (and how your AV integrator can help)

Video conferencing has come a long way in the last couple decades, to the point where most conferencing-related frustrations have been eliminated through innovation. Gone are the days where muddy images, stuttering frame rates and complicated software made conferencing a chore. Compared to 20 years ago, video conferencing is pleasant and simple.

Like with any technology, though, there is still room for improvement. While most of the technical issues have been ironed out, some organizations have difficulty fully integrating video conferencing into their processes, and audio is a hurdle for many spaces.

Here, we’ll go over some of the most common conference room issues and how an AV integrator can help your organization overcome them.

Our Conference Rooms Aren’t Getting Enough Use

Some video conferencing issues aren’t related to the technology, but the space dedicated to the technology. It’s common, for example, for businesses to add a lot of conference rooms quickly, only to find that many of those rooms are underutilized. Finding the right balance between too few and too many conference rooms is tough. Every empty conference room is wasted space, but too few conference rooms and your teams won’t collaborate as well as they could.

If your video conferencing spaces aren’t picking up enough interest, then the problem may be how the conference rooms are organized. Instead of sticking the same conference table in every conferencing space, change up the furniture, layout and design of your meeting rooms. A sofa and a couple of lounge chairs, for instance, will encourage small teams to meet informally.

An AV integrator can help organizations make big changes to their video conferencing rooms if they aren’t justifying their investment. For example, if your large conferencing spaces are only hosting small meetings, then turning that space into a dedicated collaboration room or splitting it up into multiple huddle rooms could improve your technology adoption rates.

We Don’t Have Enough Conference Rooms For All Of Our Meetings

This is the opposite problem – too many meetings and not enough video conferencing rooms to accommodate them all.

One solution is to expand your video conferencing footprint, adding more conferencing spaces to make up the difference. This is a significant investment, but if your organization is tight on both space and resources, AV-as-a-Service (AVaaS) can help your business acquire needed video conferencing technology without making a major capital investment. Instead, organizations pay for their AV solutions monthly, using an OpEx approach. This provides budgeting certainty and valuable AV assets at once.

Another option is to maintain tighter control over how your conferencing spaces are utilized. If your teams are all trying to meet at the same time, your peak usage times may overwhelm your conferencing spaces while leaving them empty the rest of the day. That’s not a space problem, but a scheduling problem.

Room scheduling solutions are a proven way to eliminate meeting space bottlenecks and can be used in tandem with other AV solutions. With room scheduling, professional teams must reserve a room in advance, so there’s no overlap in usage. Room scheduling works best when tied to a shared calendar, so users can see what rooms and time slots are available before reserving a room.

The only potential challenge with room scheduling is ensuring people don’t reserve rooms that they don’t end up using. This is frustrating for other teams, but it can be mitigated with minimal effort. For example, if a team doesn’t show up to a reserved room, an e-mail can be automatically sent out to the meeting’s organizer alerting them to the missed reservation.

It’s Difficult For Everyone To Hear Each Other During Meetings

On the technical side, video conferencing solutions run with minimal disruption. When there is an issue, though, it’s frequently the audio that’s causing the problem.

There are a few reasons why poor audio could be plaguing your video conference rooms. A lot of the time, it’s the room’s acoustics interfering with how sound travels through the space. Poor acoustics are normally the result of sound waves bouncing off of hard surfaces in the room. AV integrators have technology they can use to model a room’s acoustics and make meaningful improvements. Adding soft, padded surfaces and furniture can help, as well as baffles or soundproof materials.

Poor audio may also be an audio hardware problem. If there aren’t enough microphones in the room, or if the microphones aren’t positioned close enough to the meeting’s participants, then your room may not be capturing enough audio. If output volume is too low, then an AV integrator can add speakers or reposition existing speakers for better audio coverage.

Connecting To The Conferencing Room Is A Real Pain

Once a conference is underway, there’s usually little to worry about. It’s the getting started part that’s tough for many, and it often comes down to connectivity.

Some organizations prefer to toss out the cables altogether and invest in wireless connectivity. Solutions like wireless presentation systems can support this approach. However, it’s still a good idea to have wired connectivity options when network resources are scarce.

There are also challenges with wired connectors, of course. One is ensuring you have enough connectors for your conference spaces. Another is cable management. Businesses can solve both problems at once by routing their cables through the table. There are conference room tables built for this purpose, and it ensures everyone has the physical connectors they need without dragging a cable across the room.

AV Integrators Can Troubleshoot And Resolve Your Conference Room Issues

Conference room issues aren’t common, but they’re frustrating when they do occur. If your organization is having trouble getting optimal value out of its conference rooms and if frustration is mounting, then a certified AV integrator can help. Experienced AV integrators spend a lot of time designing, installing and supporting conference room solutions, and they can spot and eliminate conference room issues before they become more than just issues.

Using AV Technology To Improve Sound Quality In Schools

Using AV Technology To Improve Sound Quality In Schools

AV Technology Can Improve Sound Quality In Schools

Few classrooms are designed with acoustics in mind, and that’s a problem for students. Poor audio quality is everywhere in U.S. classrooms, interfering with students’ ability to learn and remain engaged. Research presented by the Acoustical Society of America shows that excessive noise and vibration can reduce the amount of information delivered to students by up to 25 percent.

AV solutions can help schools overcome these acoustical difficulties. Audio enhancement systems are designed to boost the important sound (the teacher) and suppress everything else.

What Is The Value Of Good Sound In Schools?

Modern classrooms still rely on traditional lectures, and students spend about 75 percent of their time in school listening. With so much information being transmitted via sound, strong audio quality is critical for effective learning. Good audio is elusive in many classrooms, though, as they’re often too large for teachers to fill the room with their voice. Ambient noise only makes it harder for teachers to be heard.

Schools are turning to audio enhancement solutions to resolve this issue, and there are a variety of benefits to the technology. For example:

Audio Enhancement Helps Students Learn And Recall Information Better

According to studies, audio quality tracks with information quality. The easier it is for students to hear the teacher, the easier it is for those students to understand and remember what is being taught.

Audio enhancement boosts the teacher’s voice, ensuring crisp, clear audio reaches every student in the room. Audio enhancement can also overcome ambient noise, which is frequently loud enough to interfere with the lesson.

Audio Enhancement Improves Academic Outcomes For Students At The Back Of The Classroom

Some classrooms are large enough that it’s almost impossible for a teacher to project their voice through the entire space. This won’t be noticed by students sitting close to the front, but students in the back frequently miss important parts of the lesson because it never makes it there. Unsurprisingly, these students are more likely to fall behind in at least one subject by the sixth grade.

Audio enhancement helps teachers project their voice to the back of the room without yelling, so students in the back of the classroom remain just as engaged as those in the front.

Audio Enhancement Preserves The Teacher’s Voice

According to the American Academy of Otolaryngologists, more than half of U.S. teachers will develop a voice problem during their careers. Muscle pains, hoarseness and vocal tiredness are a few symptoms of voice strain, and they can be severe enough to result in missed teaching time.

Audio enhancement is a frontline solution for preserving teachers’ voices. With an audio enhancement system in place, educators don’t need to raise their voices while speaking.

What AV Solutions Deliver Better Sound In Schools?

Audio enhancement solutions are provided through AV integrators, and though they vary a bit in design, they all do the same thing – boost the clarity and volume of classroom audio. Leading classroom audio brands engineer a range of solutions for every budget and educational space. Two of those brands are Audio Enhancement and Frontrow. Here’s a closer look at their products:

Audio Enhancement’s Classroom Audio Solutions

Audio Enhancement is a pioneer in classroom audio and has provided solutions for more than 40 years. Some of its classroom audio solutions provide exactly that – better audio in a single classroom. Some are designed for integration into a larger, schoolwide audio solution.

The Beam and Mini Media solutions, for example, are economical classroom audio options that fill a single room with crisp audio. Its Optimum solution is on the other end of the complexity spectrum. It provides full network connectivity and two-way communication, so it can be used in conjunction with the school’s bells, intercom system and emergency alert system.

All Audio Enhancement’s solutions consist of an amplifier, receiver, microphone and speakers. There are several microphone and speaker designs to choose from, including 360-degree microphones and ceiling-mounted speakers.

Frontrow’s Classroom Audio Solutions

Frontrow has been around for more than a half-century and provides classroom audio solutions to more than 25 countries. Among its product offerings are the ToGo, Pro Digital, Juno Classroom and ezRoom Classroom.

The ToGo is Frontrow’s mobile audio option, perfect for PE classes, playgrounds and the bus line. It is easily portable and all of the system’s components can be carried in a single hand. It’s built with a second audio driver for better coverage and is PFM compatible, so it can be used with assistive listening devices.

The Pro Digital is Frontrow’s most economical and simplest classroom audio option. It can be placed on a shelf if needed and teachers can learn to control it in minutes. Pro Digital is ideal for schools that need a budget-friendly option that has an extremely high adoption rate.

The Juno and ezRoom solutions offer more. Juno utilizes Frontrow’s SonicSuffusion technology to deliver pitch-perfect audio to classrooms of any size. It also recognizes voice commands and can be used to control room technologies and record lessons. The ezRoom offers full AV integration with the room’s AV technologies and integration with the school’s communications. Bells, intercom systems and emergency messaging can all be run through the ezRoom, as a result.

Your AV Integrator Can Install And Support Audio Enhancement Solutions

While classroom audio solutions are designed for ease of use, all AV solutions are easier to install, configure, and maintain with a certified integrator’s expertise. Experienced AV integrators spend a lot of their time in classrooms and know how to accommodate existing technologies while integrating new ones.

Students need to hear before they can learn, and the better the audio, the more they will hear. Investing in better classroom audio is investing in student success.