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Spotlight on The Brookings Institution — 8 AV/IT Tech Directors Share: Fall 2021 – The Hybrid/HyFlex Higher Ed Campus

Brookings Institution
The Brookings Institution plans to stream almost 100 percent of future classes and events. (Image credit: Brookings Institution)

AV Technology content director Cindy Davis sat down with the AV/IT directors from eight universities to learn how they are approaching the 2021–22 school year. Some are returning to pre-pandemic status with few reconfigured classrooms for hybrid learning, others are all-in with hybrid, or HyFlex modalities, while others are in transition and planning for the future.

We’ve created a series of spotlights that provide an in-depth conversation with university AV/IT directors, which will be posted here on AVNetwork throughout September. 

For a snapshot of all eight universities, plus industry thought leadership, and an extensive list of products for the hybrid and HyFlex classroom, download The Technology Manager's Guide to Fall 2021: The Hybrid/HyFlex Higher Ed Campus.

Spotlight on The Brookings Institution

The Brookings Institution Ed Berkey, Director of AV and Studio Services

(Image credit: Brookings Institution)

Ed Berkey

Director of AV and Studio Services, The Brookings Institution

Q: Pre-pandemic, what percentage of classes (if any) were set up as hybrid or HyFlex? What are plans for fall classes?

A: Brookings has a very limited class schedule but does conduct hundreds of seminars and events to communicate the results of our research to targeted audiences and the general public. Almost 99 percent of our pre-COVID-19 classes, seminars, and events occurred on-site, with a very limited number of those that could be considered hybrid.

Less than 25 percent of seminars and events will be in-person for the Fall 2021 semester, but we are required to make all in-person events available to remote attendees.

In early fall we will be working with staff and integrators to build out facilities and train staff to produce hybrid events. Brookings streamed about 40 percent of events pre-pandemic; we expect to be streaming almost 100 percent of events in the future. Many events and seminars will continue to be virtual-only, as we discovered they were able to reach new audiences.

Q: Have in-person classes resumed?

A: Staff on-site is currently limited with no outside visitors, and 100 percent of classes, seminars, and events are virtual. Most events and seminars are convened on Zoom and streamed via YouTube to the Brookings website. AV technicians work from home, equipped by the company to produce the Zoom sessions and handle the streaming connection between Zoom and YouTube. We implemented the Zoom-to-YouTube connection to reduce the risk of Zoombombing and other hacks. Many of our guests are government officials or work in sensitive areas and they were concerned about Zoom’s initial lack of security measures.


Spotlight on 8 AV/IT Tech Directors

>> Spotlight on Boston University

>> Spotlight on The Brookings Institution

>> Spotlight on Brandeis University

>> Spotlight on Indiana University

Watch for more spotlights to be posted throughout September.


Q: In what ways is your department gearing up for the fall different than if the pandemic not happened?

A: Our organization’s business model is changing dramatically as a result of the pandemic and is still evolving. Our team will be dropping some services and providing some new services not offered before COVID-19. These service changes have forced a new analysis of facilities and staffing. The chip shortage and overwhelmed integrators are slowing our efforts to update facilities, and as a result, we are months behind where we would normally be to meet the usual Labor Day start. Once our organization expectations are finalized, we hope to be able to move forward at full speed towards meeting the new needs come September.

Q: Have more classrooms been outfitted with remote technologies specifically because of the pandemic?

A: We have a new mandate to outfit all conference rooms with standardized collaboration tools. Our IT group has standardized on Microsoft Teams for collaboration work; our events group has standardized on Zoom for events; and we have been working with IT to upgrade conference rooms throughout our campus with Yealink gear, which will support both platforms. Our event spaces will need additional help from integrators to outfit the rooms for hybrid events later in the year. Multi-use conference rooms will need auto-tracking cameras and microphone arrays. After 16 months of having close-up views of every virtual meeting participant—a single wide shot of a room of 25 people with push-to-talk microphones will no longer be accepted.

Q: Do you have advice for your peers on training faculty to use new hybrid classroom technologies?

A: Find the early adopters in each area and get them up to speed as quickly as possible. They will be your biggest advocates and can serve as trainers to others who are slower to learn or accept the changes.

Cindy Davis

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.