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New Vanderbilt IT team to upgrade classroom technologies, offer support and training

Mar. 27, 2015, 2:47 PM

Vanderbilt IT has formed a new Audio/Visual (AV) Design and Support team to raise all classrooms to today’s digital standards and offer support, training and day-to-day repairs. A three-year project will bring all 311 classrooms up to the same digital standard and marks the first time VUIT has approached AV as an enterprise service to Academic Affairs.

Since the beginning of the 2014 academic year, VUIT has completed upgrades in 35 spaces spread out among nearly every college in the university. Nine more spaces are planned to be upgraded during the current fiscal year once the semester ends in May. Under the leadership of BC Hatchett, the team’s goal is to provide faculty with consistent, modern technology with a common user interface in each classroom—right down to the interface on touch panels.

“Before the upgrades, each school’s classrooms had different technical capabilities,” Hatchett said. “We want to have all classrooms, as much as possible, offer the same technologies—regardless of where faculty members teach.”

Such disparate technologies were partially due to the fact that each college was responsible for its own classrooms before VUIT was formed in 2013, and used multiple vendors that delivered varied results at different price points, Hatchett said. The team has since consolidated classroom repairs and upgrades within the university with a single AV vendor called LMG—a Florida-based company with a Nashville presence that is also responsible for the AV technologies at the Music City Center.

Not only has VUIT changed the way Vanderbilt schools had historically approached AV support, but the organization has also altered the process of planning AV updates.

“Our team now holds meetings with the faculty who teach in that specific classroom, as well as with IT support and vendors, to ensure that their needs are indeed met,” said Jason Bradley, interim manager of Distributed Technology Services. “This new setup will help us organize more effectively and be more efficient as a team.”

To help VUIT focus resources and prioritize work, Vice Provost Cynthia Cyrus convened the associate deans from all schools to schedule work for the upcoming year. The group is establishing an annual governance process to prioritize and plan in the spring, execute upgrades in early summer and focus on support during the academic year.

The AV Design and Support team recently updated the Cinema Media Arts (CMA) program’s main lecture room in Buttrick Hall, Room 103, on an expedited schedule. The room used to have many technical issues that prevented faculty from even using the space for instructional purposes, Bradley said. Following discussions among the faculty members, IT support staff and the vendors, VUIT aligned the room’s technology with the academic needs of the faculty by converting the transport system to an all-digital infrastructure and installing new projectors and audio processors.

“The big difference is that we can use the classroom not only for teaching, but also for screenings,” said Jennifer Fay, the department chair for the CMA program. “We have had a few guest filmmakers in town to present their work, and this projector ‘projects’ the image of a serious film program.”

Once the three-year project to standardize classroom technologies concludes, the DTS AV Design and Support team will remain focused on lifecycling the AV technology at least every six years.

To provide classroom feedback or suggestions, please email classrooms@vanderbilt.edu.

Administrative contact: BC Hatchett, bc.hatchett@vanderbilt.edu

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