Jonathan Brawn, CTS, principal at Brawn Consulting, was recently named AVIXA's Educator of the Year. We sat down with him to hear more of his story.
AVN: How did you get your start in the pro AV industry?
JONATHAN BRAWN: I often joke about it being my father Alan’s fault; I say that he didn’t believe in child labor laws. However, that’s not far from the truth. I had an interest and aptitude with computers in the early 90’s, and he needed to create training programs in PowerPoint for his work at Hughes-JVC. He recruited me to help build those training programs; he wrote them, I constructed them.
Turns out that in addition to making trainings for his company, we were also building training for his educational efforts with ICIA (what is now AVIXA). So, I got pulled into the family business. I worked with him for many years, building programs. Over time, I started writing them, then teaching myself—and the rest is history, I suppose!
AVN: What do you believe will dominate tech conversations for the next year?
JB: Sadly, the tragedy and crisis impacting all of us will drive the conversations for the foreseeable future. Work from home, UCC and collaboration tools, and increased use of digital signage for safety information will continue to grow. The use of technology that can aid us directly—such as the kiosks that perform temperature scans and dispense hand sanitizer—will also increase. I wish it wasn’t the case, but I know our industry will pull through, and we are in a truly unique position to help others do the same.
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AVN: Why is educating AV professionals important to you?
JB: Education is everything to me. In my heart, I think my true calling is to be a teacher. I’m always at my happiest when I am able to share knowledge with someone—doubly so when I know I can help make a difference, even in a small way, in their lives.
I may have to be a consultant to pay the bills, but I always prefer to be teaching. I think continuing education is of critical importance. Stagnation is toxic, and we all have a responsibility to continually learn, grow, and improve our skills, to better ourselves, and to better serve our family, our co-workers, our customers, our industry, and our world as a whole.
AVN: What is your teaching style and why do you think it works for your students?
JB: That is a tough question—I’ve never really tried to classify it before. I don’t have a set script for any class. I know in general what I need to convey, but I prefer to tailor my actual discussion to those in the audience.
I love active participation, when the students feel comfortable and will comment or question—it shows me that I’m being approachable, and keeping things conversational. I try to inject energy and humor; it’s far too easy to fall into dry recitation of fact read from the slides … no one enjoys that. This should be a fun process, and enjoyable one—that’s part of what will drive you to consume more and more education. Learning should never feel like a chore.
AVN: What is the one thing you hope students take away from your classes?
JB: I hope I can share my passion for AV technology—particularly display technology, my specialty—with those who attend any class I teach. I hope I can share my love for this crazy industry, give them a laugh or two, even if it is at my personal expense—is’s okay, I’ve met me, I get it.
I hope I inspire my students to come back again to take more classes, to continue to build their skills. Oh, if I can manage to actually convey the topic my class was supposed to learn, that wouldn’t hurt either!
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