New experiences and insights at CCUMC
At last October's CCUMC (Consortium of College and University Media Centers) annual conference, held this year in Pittsburgh, a group of dedicated and energetic AV and IT managers and technicians gathered to discuss the joys and trials of their roles in today’s U.S. higher education system. There was a very warm welcome to all attendees, not least to new timers like myself, and the conference made for a very interesting trip.
Important project work
The pace of change in technology and teaching practices makes working in this sector both exciting and challenging in equal measure, and there were some stimulating presentations. Creativity and resourcefulness in the delivery of new projects was high on the agenda. As learning and classroom technology continues to evolve, the projects that my fellow attendees undertake are increasingly important. Simply put, they play a significant role in the quality of the learning and teaching experience. Plus we’ve seen studies report that college facilities are a top factor in students’ choice of academic institution, so the design and upgrading of classroom technology is a key component in an institution’s strategy for success.
Operational and funding challenges
Unfortunately budget cuts (up to 30% reported) bring challenges and frustrations to what needs to be accomplished. The support and advice that comes with CCUMC membership at least goes some way to making life easier. In addition, the project based work described above has to be balanced with operational responsibilities relating to student and staff support. It’s multi-tasking big time. This routine work remains important – adding value wherever there is student contact – but there’s huge opportunity to work smarter.
I heard several stories where there’s a quest to reduce the systems in play, or make lighter work in bridging the gaps between systems, especially when scheduling and delivering equipment and hardware to meet student and staff requests. This rationalisation needs to continue, but often introducing a student-facing system is what makes the real difference.
Empowered students and staff fulfilling their own resource needs and finding answers to their own questions through an online scheduling system is far more desirable than endless enquiries, phone calls and emails. It’s a service model that brings efficiency and student satisfaction in a single move. This affords staff more time for training and coaching students on equipment use, and of course to focus on the all-important projects that support their departments and the wider institution in moving ahead.
A CCUMC tradition: the 'spoons' game. Fast and fun, but not for the faint-hearted!
Data to support key decision-making
A further observation from the conference is there’s a massive appetite for meaningful data. Much of this is due to the purchasing and refresh cycle which requires a lot of energy and effort in gathering data to meet cost analysis needs. The AV, media and photography professionals we work with are often driven by their enthusiasm for the kit they support or aspire to provide to their students. But wearing their business hats, they need to be able to measure just how well utilised each piece is for the all-important ROI analysis.
They also need to be confident that costly items will survive until the next refresh cycle – that they remain intact and their location is always known. Emails and spreadsheet tracking doesn’t cut it, especially with so many other demands on their roles, and an underlying expectation to achieve automation wherever possible.
Some answers from connect2
Connect2 equipment scheduling software answers the need for end user empowerment through self-service. It joins up the workflows to reduce the tyranny of unmanageable admin workloads. And it offers instant, valuable data to support your ROI-based decision-making. Just ask me what else it can do! You’ll be pleasantly surprised by just how much time-saving and satisfaction you gain when you start using connect2.
In summary, many insights and new friendships were gained during my time in Pittsburgh. It was also fascinating being initiated into some of the CCUMC traditions, not least the ‘spoons’ game – a fast and furious contest involving playing cards, spoons and some ruthless reflexes! With thanks to everyone who extended such a warm welcome and for sharing their views on where support and new ideas are most needed to make life easier.