Audio-visual technology a bright spot on college campuses

At least half of the nation’s higher-education classrooms will be equipped with digital projectors, control systems, audio or video conferencing equipment, or other audio-visual (AV) technology within the next five years, a new study projects.

Conducted by Acclaro Growth Partners, an independent research firm, on behalf of InfoComm International, the trade association representing the AV industry, the study polled nearly 300 instructional technology buyers at colleges and universities across the country. It found the number of classrooms with AV equipment has doubled every year for the past five years–and is expected to continue to double annually through 2010.

Much of the demand for AV equipment in colleges and universities is the result of new classroom construction, researchers found. The total number of higher-education students in the United States is expected to peak in 2008, creating a boom in the construction of new facilities. Presentation technology is being integrated into these new classrooms to reflect a shift in educational methods, the study said, including the increased use of collaborative techniques and project-based assignments.

AV technology also is being used to attract increasingly tech-savvy students and to accommodate distance-education programs, which expand both the reach and revenues of academic institutions.

“We are pleased to see the higher-education community embracing AV technology,” said Randal A. Lemke, executive director of InfoComm International. “It is encouraging to see colleges and universities looking at AV as a long-term investment that is enhancing the quality of education while reducing its cost, eliminating academic bottlenecks, and assisting recruitment efforts.”

Two out of five institutions surveyed estimated that less than 20 percent of their classrooms were equipped with AV systems as recently as five years ago. Nearly half of these same institutions have close to 50 percent of their classrooms outfitted with AV equipment today, the study found. By the end of 2010, 80 percent of surveyed institutions predict that at least half of their classrooms will be outfitted with AV systems.

Fueling this growth is the changing nature of today’s academic institutions. Spaces are transitioning from single-use classrooms to multi-purpose areas, as school administrators seek to get the most out of their infrastructural investments–and AV technology is the most often cited enabler of this transition, according to the study.

Presentation systems also make it easy to collaborate across departments or between schools–an increasingly important ability as collaborative research assumes a larger role at universities, the study found.

Moreover, just 15 percent of the total student population in the United States are traditional students, researchers said. The remaining 85 percent are working adults and part-time students, many of whom rely on technology for distance education. “Many states have a larger demand for higher education than what can be met through traditional on-campus enrollment,” Acclaro explained. “AV technology allows institutions to increase enrollments and provide greater access to education, while maintaining the same or reducing the level of financial investment per student.”

Business schools are the most frequent users of AV technology among four-year institutions, followed by liberal-arts schools, schools of engineering, and schools of education. Among two-year institutions, liberal-arts schools are the most frequent users, followed by business schools, schools of education, and schools of engineering.

Projectors and control devices are the most popular AV technologies in colleges and universities, followed by sound reinforcement and acoustics technology, cables, and connectors. Large-screen displays are more popular among two-year institutions, while audio and video conferencing equipment is more prevalent among four-year institutions.

Other commonly purchased AV items include steaming media and casting equipment, signal management and processing devices, wireless connections and software, and AV acquisition and delivery equipment, the study found.


Acclaro Growth Partners

InfoComm International

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