Just Make It Easy to Use!

Just Make It Easy to Use!

That’s a simple enough request, right?

  • We’ve all heard stories or experienced the reality of an installed technology not being used because it required one click too many, and simply wasn’t intuitive. Expensive equipment goes to waste, AV and IT departments are blamed for “broken” systems, and future AV/IT budget requests are challenged.

Before arriving at their current solution, the staff responsible for installing and integrating active learning classroom (ALC) technologies at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) experienced a steep learning curve. Two years ago, an ALC technology solution was installed on campus. “We built it out of discrete components,” says Melissa Hildebrandt, PMP, project manager, Enterprise Project Management Office, Strategic Program Office of the U of S. “There was nothing wrong with the way that it was put together—it’s just that instructors had a hard time understanding how to use it.” As a result, the team was not certain the system was being used to its full capabilities. “We had BYOD wireless connectivity boxes behind monitors around the perimeter of the room, but these all tied into a central video switcher and the controls are a bit cumbersome for an average user,” she says.

In 2016, Hildebrandt and Kyle Berezowski, CTS, consultant, Equipment Services, ICT Client Services of the U of S began the search for a new ALC technology solution. “The user interface was a critical component,” Hildebrandt says. “The others didn’t have an easy way to run the system.”

Engineers and project managers from Sony Professional Solutions of America and teams from Japan spent more than two years traveling the world, listening to AV and IT departments and educators so they could understand exactly what they needed in active learning classroom and meeting room collaboration systems. They visited five different universities in the United States, as well as others in Europe, China, and Japan. “The number-one request from all of the people we met—whether it was the integrator, the AV manager, or faculty—was that ‘it has to be really easy to use,’” says Mike Tada, Education Marketing Manager, Sony Professional Solutions of America. “No one wants to use an intimidating, overwhelming user interface.”

Learn more from Hildebrandt and Berezowski about their mission to integrate an intuitive, easy-to-use active learning classroom technology solution at the U of S, how they trained staff, and see photos. Plus, hear first-hand accounts about the solution the University of Manitoba installed, and how it’s using its new ALC technology solutions, here.

Cindy Davis
Brand and content director of AV Technology

Cindy Davis is the brand and content director of AV Technology. Davis enjoys exploring the ethos of experiential spaces as well as diving deep into the complex topics that shape the AV/IT industry. In 2012, the TechDecisions brand of content sites she developed for EH Publishing was named one of “10 Great Business Media Websites” by B2B Media Business magazine. For more than 20 years, Davis has developed and delivered multiplatform content for AV/IT B2B and consumer electronics B2C publications, associations, and companies. From 2000 to 2008, Davis was the publisher and editor-in-chief of Electronic House. From 2009 to present, as the principal of CustomMedia.Co, Davis developed content plans and delivered content for associations such as IEEE Standards Association and AVIXA, content marketing for Future Plc, and numerous AV/IT companies. Davis was a critical member of the AVT editorial team when the title won the “Best Media Brand” laurel in the 2018 SIIA Jesse H. Neal Awards. A lifelong New Englander, Davis makes time for coastal hikes with her husband, Gary, and their Vizsla rescue, Dixie, sailing on one of Gloucester’s great schooners, and sampling local IPAs.