West Virginia University is more than a higher ed stalwart—for the Mountaineers, WVU is a way of life. Enrollment in the university hovers near 30,000 for the main campus; WVU offers 191 bachelor's, master's, doctoral, and professional degrees across its 15 colleges. With such staggering figures, how does the school’s AV technology team stay ahead of trends? How is technology enhancing the student and faculty experience? Spence Graham, WVU’s professional technologist and Info Station Manager, itemizes some of the unique tech challenges and opportunities when a campus branches out.
AV Technology: How is AV/IT convergence playing out in your facility?
Spence Graham: We are leveraging digital signage to maximize our WVU internal marketing messaging to our students, faculty, staff and campus visitors on our three campuses in Morgantown, WV. The digital signage also plays a significant part in our ability to support emergency messaging, if and when needed.
What AV/IT problems have you solved recently?
Spence Graham: Challenges are inevitable with any AV/IT venture. We swarm a problem and look at each project challenge as an opportunity to create a new solution. Using our digital signage network to support the mission of West Virginia University makes it fun to come to work every day!
What types of new tech or products do you want to learn more about?
Spence Graham: Technology changes quickly and we respond to those changes thoughtfully as we research new ideas. We attend the annual Digital Signage Expo in Las Vegas to put our hands on the newest technologies and to speak to the people who actually make those products to see how we can incorporate the tech into areas of our network we want to build out.
What AV/IT do you hope to buy in the near future?
Spence Graham: In addition to continuing the normal expansion of standard digital signage on our campuses, we are looking to add more deployments of campus wayfinding, Walls of Honor and room scheduling applications. We enjoy a high demand technology market at WVU.
Where are tech manufacturers getting it wrong or missing opportunities?
Spence Graham: University campuses are a huge vertical market for vendors. Students today have been raised in an ever-changing technology environment from birth and they expect campus technologies to keep pace.
As with any market, vendors need to understand the budget constraints unique to higher education institutions and design their pricing plans that are flexible and responsive to limitations annual budgets.
What is the biggest obstacle to collaboration? What are your collaboration strategies?
Spence Graham: Collaboration adds knowledge to everyone involved in a project. We reach out to our peers, often at annual conferences such as the Digital Signage Expo and the UBTech Conference, to share our visions and seek potential solutions to various technology challenges. We see these conferences as an annual investment in our network.