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General Chat Thread, AV and IT - How to integrate and separate the two within one department? in General; Greetings, I'm kind of polling here for some ideas, but in a nutshel, I am the sole AV support tech ...
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    AV and IT - How to integrate and separate the two within one department?

    Greetings,

    I'm kind of polling here for some ideas, but in a nutshel, I am the sole AV support tech at the community college where I work. The structure is such that I report to the IT department. This is a good thing, as we all know the integration of AV and IT is inevitable at this point!

    For the sake of discussion, I'd like to ask if/how your departments have differentiated the role of the AV technician from your regular IT technicians?

    Who in your IT department is responsible for classroom AV tech planning, ordering, management, etc? What is their title?

    I am curious, as it is now, our department is looking for a way to separate the function of the AV Technician from our regular IT Technicians.

    Thanks for your input!

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    themightymrp's Avatar
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    Our school lost funding for a separate AV technician, therefore these days I do both! My job title was adjusted though from Senior ICT Technician to just Senior Technician.... with a bit of a salary boost too (not massive)

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    Interesting... My school is a state community college, and fortunately, our IT department is well funded still. The problem we're having is finding an appropriate job title for me. I am currently a Media Specialist, which encompasses some of what I do, but programming control systems and management of an entire campus of AV systems is a little above the pay scale for my current job title. In the state system, it isn't so easy to just adjust someone's pay to match the work they do if it happens to be above and beyond the state listed job classification.

    So we're trying to come up with a new sub-division under IT, where I can be a proper supervisor, just not sure exactly what to call the division, or my new job title.

    We're thinking along the lines of Educational Technologist, or Interactive Technologies Manager... That's the easy part, finding a new name for this sub-division of our IT department is the tricky part.

    We could call it Classroom Technology, or Instructional Technology, but there are fine lines in the naming of a department (or division) that become funny grey areas when the school sees the job titles and division name. If it includes the word 'Instructional', then it can be taken as a resource for instructors to bring in their iPads looking for support, which is not what I do! It all gets a little sticky when working in government institutions. You have to tread lightly and be extra wary of the implications of something as simple as a job title or division name.

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    Out IT Technician handles AV requirements.
    TBH at the last 2 schools that I have worked at, AV was just part of IT support.

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    We don't have a separate roll for AV technician in terms of general classroom support here, it's seen very much as a general IT support function.

    There are separate (not even close to our line management) technicians who supports the creative arts team and handles technical support issues of all kinds for the theatre and rehearsal spaces we have here and we support them if they get stuck on an IT issue. This is quite a large function in its own right and is pretty much unconnected to general everyday teaching unless its in the spaces they support.

    To be honest, I suspect the AV tech and IT tech roles will converge everywhere as the technology used converges, in much the same way that telephony used to be a totally separate discipline and is converging as places move to more modern systems with voip/softphones, etc.
    Last edited by Roberto; 22nd May 2014 at 04:51 PM.

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    synaesthesia's Avatar
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    We have a dedicated AV technician - he's not solely dedicated to AV, as he manages the IT technician side for our second campus, he's just very dedicated! Looks after media & music which are rather demanding and still finds time to handle the day to day IT jobs as and when they crop up. Falls entirely under IT for line management etc, it's an arrangement we're happy with as the roles integrate rather well anyway.

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    We dont have a AV techy, if its technical and the teacher don't understand it ( or just plain does not want to do it) then a call goes to IT for support.

    Depending on how jobsworth I am at that time (and how close the request is to my contracted duties), I either assist (either by showing or doing so that they can then do the task) or refer them to the caretakers / site manager.

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    Ephelyon's Avatar
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    I don't agree with IT and AV being seen under the same hood and never have. That's probably because I don't really know the first thing about the latter though.

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    IT Techs usually do AV stuff. If it has a plug, it comes to IT

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    I am an AV tech, in a team of 12. We also have 3 AV design and maintainance guys who spec the rooms (and get contractors in to install) and maintain,upgrade the systems. all of us are under student support services.

    IT is separate, which I think is a big mistake - everything we do involves some sort of IT input/network input and /or reliance and we should be working closely together.

    In our supported rooms we look after the IT to a certain extent (re-image,check network conectivity) and are responsible for everything else - ip cameras,projectors, audio, av racks-switchers,scalers,hearing loops,dsp etc etc..., video conference equipment, recording equipment.

    everything else - servers,internet,network,accounts etc etc is IT/Networks/application support.

    I suppose it all depends on how much AV equipment/demand there is to support


    anyway, job title - AV Developer, ?
    Last edited by mole; 22nd May 2014 at 05:52 PM.

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    IT and AV should certainly work closely together, but there should also be an understanding that they're not the same skillset (we aren't talking better or worse, just different). Yes, often in schools anything with a plug comes to IT, but I'm actively against that. It's not a way to properly employ people and schools do need to get their heads around that. It's true that sometimes you will find people who happen to have both skillsets or can turn their hand to the other enough to meet the school's needs, but I fully disagree with it becoming accepted as the norm because it shouldn't be. It's like telling a doctor they're now also a dentist "because that's what the practice/surgery needs", it's plain rubbish and devalues both professions.
    Last edited by Ephelyon; 22nd May 2014 at 06:31 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mole View Post

    IT is separate, which I think is a big mistake - everything we do involves some sort of IT input/network input and /or reliance and we should be working closely together.
    YES! All of my control systems (All Extron here), Cisco VTC systems, Apple TV's (That's an entirely different discussion!), etc all have IP addresses for remote management. I'm certainly thankful to have direct input to my network administrators on the needs for our AV environment.

    Quote Originally Posted by mole View Post
    In our supported rooms we look after the IT to a certain extent (re-image,check network conectivity) and are responsible for everything else - ip cameras,projectors, audio, av racks-switchers,scalers,hearing loops,dsp etc etc..., video conference equipment, recording equipment.

    everything else - servers,internet,network,accounts etc etc is IT/Networks/application support.
    I currently report to the same manager as the IT Techs in my department, but my role is completely different. Of course, I can help someone if their mouse isn't working, or if they need a software update, etc, but ultimately the PC and network side of our classrooms and staff/faculty offices are not my responsibility. We all have to wear many hats, and it never hurts to cross train and share knowledge. As I'm only one person to manage our entire campus of ~140 classrooms for all the AV/Media setups + conference rooms, I appreciate any help I can get when one of our IT techs is able to troubleshoot a video issue with a projector, or sound levels in an AV rack!

    Quote Originally Posted by mole View Post
    I suppose it all depends on how much AV equipment/demand there is to support

    anyway, job title - AV Developer, ?
    As I mentioned, we have a lot of assets to manage, hence the restructuring of my division and looking to hire someone to help me a bit.

    AV Developer would be a good title, how would you label the division within an IT department for a couple employees managed by this AV Developer? I am looking at moving into more of the design, project management role, with hands on for installation and maintenance as well of course, but having someone do the grunt work and routine maintenance is going to be a HUGE help.

    I like the idea of Educational Technology, or even classroom Technology, but they just aren't quite the right fit for the AV specific tasks when classroom PC's and networking is not really involved.

    Thank you all for your thoughts and input!

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    Quote Originally Posted by visioN View Post
    IT Techs usually do AV stuff. If it has a plug, it comes to IT
    I wish I could have the IT Techs here trained to program Extron control systems, troubleshoot VTC systems, etc, but in our environment, it's simple not their responsibility. I wouldn't expect them to re-align a projector, or replace a speaker in a ceiling the same way they wouldn't expect me to re-image a classroom computer.

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    synaesthesia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ephelyon View Post
    IT and AV should certainly work closely together, but there should also be an understanding that they're not the same skillset (we aren't talking better or worse, just different). Yes, often in schools anything with a plug comes to IT, but I'm actively against that. It's not a way to properly employ people and schools do need to get their heads around that. It's true that sometimes you will find people who happen to have both skillsets or can turn their hand to the other enough to meet the school's needs, but I fully disagree with it becoming accepted as the norm because it shouldn't be. It's like telling a doctor they're now also a dentist "because that's what the practice/surgery needs", it's plain rubbish and devalues both professions.
    This is true, and also the reason why when we were looking for a replacement for our departing colleague (an excellent technician who turned her hand to AV, very successfully I might add!) we decided to go for someone with AV knowledge first and foremost with IT technical requirements lesser so. It can be a matter of luck if you can find someone who can do both jobs well, but of course not all schools have the same requirements. I have no doubts that a school that specialises in performance studies like dance, drama, music etc would have far higher requirements for AV than others. Teamwork helps too; if AV falls on the shoulders of the one person, the IT folks would usually be more than happy if a hand is needed to point lights/plug in speakers or hold a camera, just like the AV folks would be happy to build a PC, replace a toner or tickle the hamster in the bursar's machine to make it run faster.

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    Ephelyon's Avatar
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    I quite agree with cross-training as has been mentioned, and the odd helping hand is fine absolutely fine as long as it doesn't set an immediate precedent for everything ever in the future (a big problem here). We just need to be sure that others don't muddle up the roles for us!



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