by Matthew Nicolle (an insider with perspective)
Today’s biggest challenge for school AV Staff is the expanding breadth of what is categorised as AV technology, and what they are expected to know.
To effectively provide advice and support for the growing range of AV technologies, school AV Staff must have broader expertise. They are expected to understand not only traditional classrooms and teaching spaces, but also theatres, networking, live concerts, radio frequency bands, filmmaking, recording studios, live streaming, VR and 360 video, video conferencing, hearing augmentation systems, intercoms and PAs… the list goes on.
Greater expertise for an increasing variety of technology and applications
As technology evolves,we want interactive displays, so we and our colleges and students can change and adapt our content in real time. We want digital signage to put our message where everyone can see it. We expect to integrate technologies to assist those experiencing impaired hearing or vision. We utilise video conferencing systems so that wherever we are in the world, we can connect effectively. We like the option of recording our classes and meetings to share with others and review for ourselves. We like our content to be engaging, and accessible at any point and on any platform. We expect things to work, and for problems to be dealt with quickly and unobtrusively.
School AV Staff no longer simply look after classroom equipment. As technologies become more readily affordable and schools look to equip their teachers with new tools as part of the curriculum, school AV Staff are being asked to assist with a whole host of new devices for students. This is particularly true of creative disciplines such as Art, Music, and Drama departments. This can involve anything from cameras and lighting equipment, to video or audio editing software, to audio systems for live sound reinforcement. The budgets and complexities of these technologies will vary from school to school.
To keep up with an expanding breadth of technology, school AV Staff need to be familiar with technologies with uses that stretch far beyond the walls of a traditional classroom. AV companies hire staff from a whole host of backgrounds, resulting in teams that have a wide range of experience. Having an outsourced team of AV Staff gives a school access to not only the expertise of its on-site staff, but the wealth of experience and knowledge found in a whole company. That is certainly what the team at Methodist Ladies College feel. Have a look at their testimonial below.
As the world of AV changes, so must the world of AV Staff as both teaching and learning take new technologies in their stride. Which brings us to our next point:
Fresh ideas/Staying on top of new technology
Having a team who have a broad range of backgrounds and are also connected to a company that stays ahead of the curve helps keep ideas fresh. While an internal team hired for a background in schools and education will have the initial advantage of being familiar with a school, its structures and internal culture, these teams are at greater risk of being ‘stuck in the past’. Have you ever seen a classroom where AV equipment used for learning is working, and is suitably maintained, but is older than the technology you have in your living room for entertainment?
Having experts who have a finger on the pulse of the larger industry beyond the bounds of a school campus will result in fresh ideas about how to approach technology in education, and expose staff and students to new solutions in an ever changing world. If education is about being prepared for life, the work force, or being a good citizen in years to come, shouldn’t the technology used in learning serve the same goal?
The competitive nature of contract work is that outsourced school AV Staff cannot become complacent if they are to remain effective. Outsourced staff not only have more exposure to the larger industry, but must be able to keep up with that industry in order to continue to be contracted.
Flexible staffing Levels
Outsourcing can help ensure that a school will always have the right number of staff. No more, and definitely no less.
The workload is often unevenly distributed throughout a school year. There are a few seasons in every school calendar that put more pressure on school AV Staff, but these waves will also depend on each school’s events that require technical assistance. For instance, most schools will have more need for AV assistance at the start of each term as teachers and other staff re-accustom themselves to the use of AV systems in the spaces they use. Similarly, most schools will have an increase in demand at the end of each year, as end of year events take place that need technical assistance to help make them memorable and run smoothly. On the other hand, exam periods are often some of the quietest as no events are run during this time, and many classrooms and halls are in use.
So how can a decision be made about how many AV Staff are needed for a school? While the number of AV equipped spaces will be a primary factor in this decision, workloads can often increase dramatically for short amounts of time. Outsourcing to an AV company helps here as well, as these companies are often able to supply extra staff with specific skills as needed.
In addition, a contract with an external company can ensure a school will always have the onsite team it needs. If internal staff are sick or take leave, a school may not have the capacity to replace them. However an external company will have a greater capacity to fill staff shortages, particularly when it matters most.
Why work with InSight Systems
InSight Systems understands schools and their technology. Our experience providing outsourced AV staff and the importance of blending pedagogy, user experience and technology makes InSight Systems the partner of choice.
Call us on 1300 369 451 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us help you discuss wether AV Staff outsourcing is appropriate for you, your school and importantly, the people using technology.