Have you ever asked a question to which you were certain that you already knew the answer? On this week’s survey, we thought we had done just that. Expecting to hear that one particular brand of projector, when coupled with one particular control system manufacturer would cause periodic problems with RS-232, we relished the “reveal” moment when we could proclaim, “It was Colonel Mustard in the parlor with a knife!” Sadly, we hadn’t a clue.
This week, AV-1er Hal Meeks shares his first month with an iPad.
I was fortunate enough be given an iPad through work. It was easy to justify based on what I do for a living. The reality was that I was prepared to buy one for myself, so I am sitting on the money to do just that at a later date. In the meantime, I wanted to share with you my initial observations…
iPad as computing appliance
The iPad represents the shift from computer platform to computing appliance. There are many examples of this now, but the iPad represents the most blatant.
The Tivo is a computing appliance in that it runs an operating system, has a processor, RAM and storage, and a modest amount of third-party support. However, unlike a personal computer, it is a “closed” environment that not just anyone can write for.
Video game systems, to some extent, represent the same idea. It is possible to hack these to run third-party applications, but it’s really not the intended use. It seems to me that the iPad represents a further shift in this idea, whether someone agrees with it or not.
Flash: conspicuously absent
Flash is the most hotly contested. It is a disservice to not support embedded flash applications in the browser. There are legitimate technical reasons to exclude flash, but at the end of the day I would have included Flash application support in the browser, but not necessarily for stand-alone apps. As for flash as a video player – I think that bird has flown. The HTML video tag has too many benefits to not adopt it. The “which format” issue will sort itself out – I root for the open source alternatives – but the pragmatist in me says that h264 will win – hardware acceleration, better tools, more content.
Battery life = game-changer
Battery life can be a deciding factor for many who consider buying a tablet. I am watching my battery go down on my MacBook right now, but on the iPad the battery life is so phenomenal that I don’t even think to check it.
Some apps really shine
Music apps such as Megasynth, Bebot work fantastically. Megasynth has made the leap from novelty to near-killer app. Where will it go once MIDI support is enabled, who knows? I can’t wait to see what kinds of graphic applications show up on the device!
The looming tablet-fest
It will take about a year before the other manufacturers begin to ship truly competitive products to the iPad. HP’s purchases of Palm and WebOS hold some promise.
Price at cost of power
Most of the tablets out now are using hardware that is not nearly as power-efficient as the iPad. These toy tablets are little more than netbooks in a different form factor. Price will affect rate of adoption. As with netbooks, there is definitely a price/performance tipping point. The $150 netbooks aren’t selling because they are too underpowered for what people want them for. A $200 tablet versus a $350 tablet may be a world of difference. Apple figured this out.
How about you?
Have you evaluated the iPad? Have you fallen under its spell? What is your perspective on this frenzy? Chime in in the comments section below or on the AV-1 Forum.
This report was reposted with permission from the blog hal meeks made it up.
||by Hal Meeks|
I’m writing to share an observation: the people around us — our customers, reports, coworkers and bosses — pay attention. Especially in the workplace, those around us tune in not just to the things we say and do, but also to our motives (whether stated or implied) behind our actions. They want to know that we can be trusted and that they can trust us with their best interests.
Trust makes good neighbors.
Even up here in staid northern New England, the average Joe and Josephine have their personal antennae up almost all the time.
My ER doctor-friend, for example, was closing on the purchase of 100-acres atop a hillside in Vermont when rumor had it his commute to the hospital (two hours by car) was to be by helicopter. Without a word, the town council placed a no-helipad restriction on his deed (so for kicks I occasionally threaten to put a windsock up there while he’s away on vacation). There had been no plan for a propeller-commute, and, had either party taken the time to build trust, the town council could have avoided embarrassing themselves.
Speaking of antennae, one night in our small town, a patrol car pulled me over for a burned out tail light. The next morning all the police scanner owners in my shop ribbed about my reckless driving, but I digress.
Trust gets things done.
I wonder, are many managers are aware of this? After all, people tend to hide their feelings pretty well. It may be that in many cases management is so overwhelmed with handling the big issues that they forget the importance of building their credibility and trustworthiness among their subordinates.
Invariably, those managers (well, I suppose we have all committed this offense) try using their positional power as a shortcut to some quick win, and what happens?
The same managers are struck suddenly by their subordinates’ apparent resistance to change. Workers who previously merited high praise now are regarded as stubborn and lazy. Frustration sets in. Pretty soon, the supervisor concludes that the staff aren’t listening, can’t learn, or worse, they have innate incapacity to self-actualize (see Maslov’s Pyramid).
Truth is, when people are behind you all the way, they will walk on hot coals to get the job done, whatever it takes. But when we have no trust for those in command, and no confidence in the mission, we drag our feet.
Long-time AV-1er, Ernie Bailey, is Director of AV Services at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. He recently completed his term as chair of InfoComm's Technology Managers Council and, with all that free time no doubt, penned an excellent article for AV Technology Magazine in which he details key steps to successful, long-term, lifecycle planning.
He begins with a parable:
There was a monastery in Greece that was built on top of a very steep precipice. The only access was by a basket on a long rope, pulled by a monk on top. A visitor riding up to the top looked at the aged rope and asked his host how often the rope was replaced. The monk thought a moment and then replied, “I guess whenever it breaks.”
Bailey notes that many technology managers take the monk’s approach to maintaining presentation systems. There is no planning for the future, but instead an expectation for the equipment and systems to last forever.
Does this sound familiar?
Schools, government institutions, industries, and large corporations all have disaster recovery plans in the event of an emergency. An AV disaster may be avoided by having a systematic plan in place to replace components before failure.
A defined plan, reviewed and updated regularly, will go a long way toward achieving and maintaining a professional presentation facility that can be counted on to work when needed. Click here to read the full article at AV Technology Online.
Among trade shows and conferences in our field, InfoComm sets the gold-standard: The annual, worldwide exposition produced by the trade group (previously known as ICIA) bearing the same name attracts a comprehensive roster of exhibitors and offers a banquet of workshop opportunities tailored to the needs of every demographic in the AV food chain.
Over the past several years, University Business Magazine's EduComm event has coincided, if not co-located, with InfoComm. EduComm (not to be confused with EDUCAUSE, the organization formerly known as Educom prior to merging with CAUSE) is tailored to K-20 decision makers, a subset of the InfoComm crowd.
Monday's pre-InfoComm survey revealed unexpected data about June travel plans for AV-1 members. For example, fewer than one in ten members indicated that they expected to travel to Las Vegas to attend either InfoComm or EduComm. The following data pertains to respondents who indicated that they had travel plans for June.
Among those with travel plans, more than three out of four plan to attend InfoComm rather than EduComm. Those who plan to attend both InfoComm and EduComm, outnumbered those planning to attend only EduComm by a margin of three-to-one.
- For those attending InfoComm, what factors lead you to InfoComm over EduComm?
- For those attending EduComm this year, what does it offer that InfoComm doesn't have?
By completing this survey, you are helping us estimate potential turn-out. Anticipating attendance is crucial to attract corporate sponsorship, which underwrites the cost of food and beverage.
The survey will take less than 60-seconds to complete and results will, of course, post by the end of the week.
||by Scott Tiner|
In 2006, I accepted a leadership position at UNC to which Hotline, Labs, and Classroom Design reported. Our charter was to do great things and be agents of change. Despite the great expectations attached to the new role, it was difficult to imagine getting everyone in the organization to agree to even a modest change for very long.
Our budget enabled me to enlist a consultant, and so I hired the best I could find: George Smart of Strategic Development, who infused me and my excellent management team with an alternate perspective on leadership, organizational development and change management.
For our first project, we transitioned the UNC campus from "free printing" to swipe-and-release printing. Various ITS units had made abortive attempts over the previous six years, each time arguing that it could not be accomplished for the lack of "political will." (That's what is said when one can't coerce the Chancellor to do your dirty work and issue a decree.)
Using George's philosophy (calling it a "technique" might mislead you to think we engaged in some kind of trickery, when in fact, we were inclusive and transparent at all levels throughout the project) we accomplished a successful transition in 90-days that was heralded by the student government and, more importantly, the student newspaper as a timely success. First-year savings exceeded $1M. It was the first of several successful initiatives.
The Context: The Call for Innovation
Last Fall, we presented two areas that merit outside-the-box thinking: simplified classroom technology and projector lifecycle strategies. We challenged you to reject the status quo and to adopt a more active role to overcome the daunting challenges (technical as well as process-oriented challenges).
At the time, we neglected to provide a framework for successfully re-thinking these areas. This first installment shares some observations rooted in the process for change that we developed with George Smart. It concludes with a few simple steps to help get started so that you can begin to make change-that-sticks in your organization.
Why is lasting change elusive?
Few quarters exist in which administrations do not routinely entreat the masses to "be more innovative, harr-rumph!" The results of such sloganeering often fall short of over-hyped expectations and those that achieve measurable progress rarely hold their ground. Why is that?
1. People cannot be expected to innovate-on-demand. In the trenches, line managers and their reports shake their heads and quietly dismiss such campaigns as "someone's bright idea," perhaps an oblique suggestion that the special "someone" in question is neither bright, nor known to be a fountain of higher cognition.
2. The problem is not that the staff are not "team players." This is not to say that innovation itself is pop-business-school puffery. Genuine innovation (yes, it does exist outside of Apple) is real and life-changing, however, expecting to achieve it by decree may indicate somewhat simplistic views of leadership and organizational development. [From the Editor: In the spirit of full-disclosure, the author has personally confessed to numerous transgressions in this regard.]
3. Innovation necessitates personal change (and occasionally, spare-change). Real change requires moving from a place that is known (predictable and comfortable) to (what may seem to be) an other-worldly realm of uncertainty. Bad conditions tend to persist not because folks just love dysfunction and inefficiency, but because of the unexpressed fear of the proposed alternate universe. "Sure, things are bad now, but they could be a whole lot worse…"
4. We value knowing why something ought to be changed, and especially why we should put forth the effort (or stick our necks out) to make it happen. Why do things differently? What is so bad about the way things are?
5. Organizations are conditioned by the consi
stent failures of top-down e
dicts. When change comes by decree, such as through "new policy" or reorganization, it rarely lasts. (When it does last, it rarely produces the expected outcome). The masses shake their heads and mumble, "Why bother? They (the new administration) will get bored and move on to some other hair-brained idea in a week or two."
6. Buy-in cannot be coerced. If grumbling and foot-dragging could be neatly translated, we might hear our people say, "Change is difficult, especially when it requires me to change something I'm comfortable with. If I'm going to put myself out, there ought to be a compelling reason, else why should I bother at all?" The masses cannot move in unison without understanding a) what is broken; and b) what would a future-state look like with the problem eradicated.
How can I start practicing change agency in my own shop?
Line managers and their staff are expert problem-solvers who live to sink their teeth into a real challenge. So, when we present a pre-digested solution (however well-thought-out) without vetting the problem and priorities, we devalue their critical contribution to day-to-day organizational success.
Avoid suggesting all-you-gotta-do-is -type solutions. Such simplifications are what get most organizations into the acute pickles they now ignore (until the next bright idea).
1. Instead of delivering marching orders, present your top-three headaches (you'll want to begin with an exhaustive list that you can prioritize) and the unfortunate consequences of those headaches. (Be sure to present your case clearly, leaving no room for misinterpretation.)
2. Without suggesting a solution, describe what their world would be like in the absence of that problem. Be sure to seek their confirmation that that the problems you described are valid (most groups can agree on a problem, it is the solution that causes all the trouble.)
3. Ask the open-ended question, "what would need to happen to get from point-A to point-B in X-weeks?" and take note.
Use these observations as conversation-starters in your own organization and, by all means, report back to us via the forum or in the comments at the end of this article and let us know the conditions on the ground at your org.
||by Joe Schuch|
Earlier this week, we delivered our first-pass results of the AV-1 Salary and Education survey. It proved to be the most-read article on the AV-1.insider, to-date. At that time, we promised you a bit more granularity in a subsequent report and here it is!
From the Editor: As always, AV-1 invites you to share your thoughtful insights on the AV-1.forum and in comments at the bottom of this article. Your participation adds value to this timely, thought-provoking topic. Thanks in advance!
The IT Connection
To the question that has stirred much debate over the years, "should AV and IT converge?" we found that more than half the community provides services within an Information Technology organizational structure. After ITS, no single department scored higher than 10%.
While this may put to rest any uncertainty surrounding IT/AV convergence, far more interesting are assets that each party brings to this shotgun wedding…
- What can AV learn from IT in key areas such as processes, ROI, best practices, funding models, and future technologies?
- Can IT learn anything from AV in terms of customer service and production values or, like so many HTML tags from the 1990s, have these concepts been deprecated from our revised understanding of quality of service?
No Tech Management in K-12 or Corporate?
Only one out of every ten respondents worked outside higher education. What is the take-away? Do we hear enough from our K-12 and corporate counterparts? Is the dearth of input from these demographics an indication that, with the exception of higher education, all learning-space related issues have been resolved? Is there no interest in learning how business and K-12 resolve important issues like lifecycle funding, standardization and long-range planning? Does the AV-1 community have tools and information that could benefit the business and K-12 sectors? Do technology management roles simply not exist in K-12 and business? Is there something AV-1 can do to attract these critical service providers to the discussion?
Data Reported by Region
Within each region (except "Outside U.S." for which a 6% response yielded insufficient data) average salaries are indicated for directors/managers. More interesting than the salary values are the span between bands…
- On average, directors in the Midwest earn 25% more than the managers who work for them.
- That bump increases to 28% for Middle-Atlantic states, and 37% in the Northeast.
- The gap between directors and managers increases to 40% in the Southeast and West, which may contribute to some feelings of inequity from down the org-chart.
About the AV-1 Surveys
In any survey, there are many ways to slice and dice the data. When the AV-1 advisory board broached the idea of fostering dialog through inquiry, everyone agreed that a long, tedious survey would be a buzz-kill (for us, as well as you readers).
Rather than being the definitive end-word (let's face it, even detailed ones rarely are), the AV-1 surveys are designed to be conversation starters.
We agreed on a methodology that struck a balance between short-and-sweet and git-her-done. If it stopped being fun and interesting to us, well, we couldn't expect AV-1 readers to follow along. (At AV-1, we're all about eating our own dog food.)
In truth, this survey pushed the envelop because it contained more than six questions (our arbitrary survey-pain threshold) and required two newsletter entries to deconstruct. (We decided that surveys are like Polaroid snapshots: the fun keeps going as long as you can see the results right away.)
With all mea culpa accounted for, we hope you will continue to participate in our periodic surveys. If you have an idea for an article or suggestion for surveys (or anything else), email us or add it to our nifty, new suggestion box at the right ==>>
Thanks for joining us, and welcome to YOUR COMMUNITY!
||by Scott Tiner|
Nicely Done! Over 200 people — better than 1/3 of all AV-1 members — responded to the second AV-1 survey (Salary and Education). Significant sample data such as these enable us to feel comfortable suggesting that some of these statistics fairly represent the learning space microcosm, as a whole. (We expect that you will let us know otherwise!)
Later this week, we’ll share some organizational demographics gleaned from your responses, however, today we cut right to the chase and show you the money, so-to-speak…
Salary and Education
85% of the community possess some kind of college degree. Educational background, though not a guarantee of success or position, clearly contributes to income:
- On average, those with Bachelor’s degrees earned almost 8% more than those with 2-year degrees.
- Those with a Master’s earned nearly 20% more than they would have with just a 4-year degree.
- The average salary of those with a terminal degree bested a Master’s by another 16%.
- Does this speak to the professionalism of the group? Does this help us convince people (including ourselves) that we are not just cart pushers?
Roles, Leadership and Salary
Nearly three-quarters of us occupy a formal position of leadership. However, by virtue of the inclusive, non-hierarchical nature of the AV-1 community, it is reasonable to infer that the remaining 28% participate in their organizations as well-informed specialists and change agents.
It is surprising that, although Directors commanded the highest salary, one-third of all Directors possessed only a 4-year degree and at least two Directors commanded a $100k+ salary with only a technical certificate to their credit.
With nearly half of us earning at least $65,000 on average, is this an indication that there is genuine growth potential for those of us who occupy positions in the lower salary range? (Or, does it only make us envious of those 18 people making over $105,000?)
Salary Bands Across Business Sectors
In recent years, concerns over pay-scale inequity between similar roles in the public and private sectors have led many institutions to revise methodologies for assessing/rewarding competencies, encouraging professional development and recruiting/retaining a talented, diverse workforce.
Initiatives such as career banding were designed to offer the promise of fair-market wages to talented tech workers choosing between the public and private sectors.
To assess the extent of the wage-gap between the public and private sector, we compiled the average salaries for Directors and Managers with Master’s or Bachelor’s degrees.
- Between private, non-profit organizations ($72,653) and publicly-funded institutions ($73,115) we found no statistical difference in average wage.
- Between publicly-funded institutions and for-profit businesses, we found less than a 5% deviation in average wage.
- Do these results seem representative of your observations in your region?
- Would a broader sample from the for-profit sector reveal greater contrast?
- Are there measures that your institution is implementing to close the gap?
||by Scott Tiner|
Because of your participation, AV-1 is the first place to browse for insights, support, occasional LOLs and, sure, even a little moaning and groaning.
We think the community could benefit from a better understanding of the demographics of our diverse members — who we are, where we come from, where we work and how our jobs compare to those of our counterparts.
This week's AV-1 survey takes the initial steps toward that better understanding. The survey will take less than 60-seconds to complete and results will, of course post by the end of the week. It is entirely anonymous and non-fattening so click here and do it now!
||by Scott Tiner|