Academic Technology @ Palomar College

Audio Visual Planning at Palomar College – Part 2

Here is the second part of my interview with Lee Hoffmann, Audio Visual supervisor at Palomar College.  In the Q&A section I try to summarize Lee’s responses to some specific questions about AV technology on campus, and at the end the audio of the interview is available.

Q: Would you support purchase and installation of newer AV technologies like short throuw projectors onto smart boards, or large screen LCD monitors in place of digital projectors?

A: Yes and No.  Smart Boards are good in certain instances, but the ADA laws requiring that the bottom of the board limits their utility.  Their screen size is a max 72 inches, too, which is generally too small for our classroom sizes.  Professors want a larger image.  On the other hand, I have installed some large LCD flat screens in place of projectors in certain rooms.  There is room for them in the future.

Q: Is there a role for mini-projectors or smartphone projectors at Palomar?

A: No.  Generally they are not size appropriate.

Q: Do you have formal, standardized specifications on “smart” classrooms as opposed to standard classrooms?

A: That is in process.  When we get a new web page up we hope to publish online the specs.

Q: Does the college need more larger “smart classrooms,” fewer smaller “smart classrooms,” or is the room configuration as it now exists about right?

A: It really does not get considered.  We pretty much follow a one-size-fits-all formula because that is the funding model.  We do have specialized rooms for Cinema classes.  P-32 is for large-screen classes and events, but mostly it’s one-size-fits-all.

Q: What steps doe4s the college take to assign AV-equipped classrooms to teachers who will use the technologies.

A: Basically,none.  Scheduling is a very complex undertaking and AV equipment lists are provided to the schedulers,but seem often to not be consulted.

Q: How could AV-related classroom costs best be controlled?

A: Centrally controlled, networked resources will do the most to control costs.  There is a lot of waste in projectors–and even lights and other power consuming devices–get left on when no one is present in a room, even over a weekend.  Installing central AV control will do most to maximize return on investment.  In the broader college environment, green tech measures need to be implemented.

Q: Should the college increase the number of digital camcorders and audio recorders available for faculty checkout?

A: No.  There really is not much demand for camcorder checkout, and none for audio recording devices, at least from the AV department.

Q: Is the current AV staff adequate to meet the needs of the college?

A: Yes.  We used to spend a lot of time hand delivering equipment to classrooms and setting it up.  Now our jobs have changed to more tech support issues related to projectors already installed in the classrooms and the interface with the classroom computer.

Q: How important is achieving 100% wireless coverage for Internet access across the San Marcos campus?

A: Very for students.  It doesn’t mean much for AV equipment.

Q: What about wireless projectors?  Are they ready for prime time?

A: Not if you want to display video on them.

Q: Would you support purchase of a self-paced training system like lynda.com for all faculty and staff members?  Should students be included?

A: Yes, but it is important that if self-paced training is purchased, departments need to set aside time for their employees to use it.

Q: Would you support purchase of a “coursecast” system that would allow any faculty member to record their lectures for simultaneous broadcast and archive them for future playback?

A: There are certain professors and courses where that would work.  It would be valuable, for example, in art history.  It really depends on the professor.

Q: Have you seen technology used at other colleges that you would like to see deployed at Palomar?

A: Keyless door lock systems, security wireless systems, surveillance cameras, these are all things we need to improve our safety and security.

Q: Should the governance of the use of technology by the college be improved?  If so, how?

A: It is a really hard question.  It is hard to see what might make it better.  In general, governance isn’t the issue, it is the systems themselves that need to be improved.  For example, when someone purchases a projector, there are a whole set of tasks that need to be completed by the facilities department, the AV department and the IS department.  Coordinating those with a check list and then insuring the tasks are completed will solve most of our problems.  It’s systems, rather than governance, that need to be improved.

Here is the audio of our interview.  Play time = 30:35.

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