Randall Janney, York College of Pennsylvania York College of Pennsylvania is a small, private college located in south central Pennsylvania with a student enrollment of 4,000 undergraduate students. The College also offers master’s programs in business, education and nursing, and a doctorate in nursing practice. Randall Janney serves as the audiovisual specialist in the Office of Information Technology. Since his primary responsibility is managing more than 160 AV-equipped rooms on campus, as well as all campus televisions, we wanted to know how Randall maintains optimal system performance. We also wanted to learn best practices for life-cycle planning in a private higher ed environment.
AV Technology editors: How is AV/IT convergence playing out in your facility?
Randall Janney: When I began as an administrator in 2008, the support responsibilities of AV technology were scattered throughout campus. The IT Help Desk managed smart classrooms; Telcom managed video conferencing, campus TVs and CATV; the library delivered projector carts, overhead projectors, and classroom TVs; and finally, the IT Desktop Group managed the PCs in the classrooms. Over the past eight years my position was moved from the IT Help Desk to the IT Desktop Group. This allowed me to work more closely with those managing the PCs on campus and provide input regarding computer standards. Telcom was dissolved, and I absorbed the staff member as well as the responsibilities of that department. By expanding the number of smart classrooms, we were able to eliminate the projector delivery program of the library as well as the old televisions in the classrooms. Now the campus has one place for all AV needs.
What AV/IT problems have you solved recently?
I think the biggest issue we have recently resolved was the conversion from analog to digital technology. In 2010 we began installing HDMI capability in each smart classroom. By 2013 we had moved our new classrooms to be all HDMI-based with no analog cabling. This allowed us to be prepared for this year’s new computer model, which did not include any VGA on the standard version. By the fall semester of 2016, we will have very few classrooms that are not equipped with HDMI connectivity.
What AV/IT do you hope to buy in the near future? Why?
Randall Janney: At the moment I am looking to significantly expand our videoconferencing capabilities on campus. We currently have a Cisco codec, LCDTV Cart, and a subscription to BlueJeans as a video conferencing solution. I would like to see more designated places on campus designed specifically for videoconferencing use. We have found that an increasing number of faculty would like solutions to hold remote classes as well as connect with guest lecturers from around the world. As always, our focus is on what our students and faculty need.
If applicable, how to you procure/purchase your AV for in-house installs?
Randall Janney: All of our purchasing is currently through distributors. For large projects, such as building renovations, we typically hire a contractor to install the AV equipment as we do not have the staff for a project of that scale. Each year we renovate 9-10 classrooms, which is done in-house. For projectors, switching, cabling, and control equipment, we use a variety of vendors to ensure we get the best price.
Where are technology manufacturers getting it wrong or missing opportunities?
Randall Janney: Standardize! One of my biggest frustrations is BYOD. Students, faculty and staff are bringing in pieces of technology that have their own proprietary connections for AV. We have a cabinet full of adapters to assist those who bring in their mobile devices, but we are still find ones that we cannot support. Thus, our collection of adapters continues to grow.
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