Creating a positive user experience across campus is the goal of IT Services' audiovisual experience team (AVXT), which recently was recognized as the 2023 Higher Ed AV Team of the Year. The first-ever winner of this new industry award, the AVXT is responsible for upgrading and maintaining more than 200 general university classrooms and offers fee-for-service support and consultation.
Team manager Mike Pedersen said receiving the award was a great honor for the team, which spent its summer updating 21 of the 209 general university classrooms.
Honoring AV superstars
The Higher Ed AV Awards are awarded by Higher Ed AV Media and the Higher Education Technology Managers Alliance, a nonprofit organization advocating for the needs of higher education in the professional audiovisual marketplace.
Here to help
When the semester starts, the team is on call to help faculty and staff troubleshoot and solve common AV issues.
"Our goal is to be in the classroom within 10 minutes of the IT Solution Center paging us," Pedersen said. "We want to go in person because we know the instructor might already be flustered, and it helps to get there and reassure them that we're there to help."
The AVXT resolved 949 support tickets in fiscal year 2023, a number that doesn't include issues identified by proactive classroom checks or automated alerts. In fiscal year 2022, it closed nearly 1,080 tickets. Pedersen said the decrease is a positive sign that the AV systems are becoming more reliable and easier to use.
Pedersen said faculty are encouraged to get into classrooms ahead of time if possible to test the technology and let the AVXT know about problems before classes begin. But even after a class or event starts, Pedersen said call the Solution Center immediately if there's an issue.
"The sooner you contact the Solution Center, the sooner our team can be there," Pedersen added. "It's not uncommon for us to arrive and the instructor has already figured it out, but that doesn't bother us at all. We'd rather be there than have someone wait too long to ask for help and try to troubleshoot it themselves."
Services and standards
The AVXT also upgrades technology and installs new equipment on a fee-for-service basis, providing needs analyses and estimates for hardware and installation.
"Almost half of what we do is fee-for-service work. We strive to serve as an AV integrator and contractor internally to help departments update conference rooms and learning spaces beyond general university classrooms," Pedersen said.
The AVXT also can provide support for live and virtual events. For live events -- like the College of Veterinary Medicine commencement the AVXT assisted with this spring -- the team has portable rigs for cameras and recording gear, and they ensure high-profile virtual meetings and events run smoothly.
Pedersen said the team also provides AV consulting and standards for the university community. The AVXT instituted new standards last year that help maintain consistency for the use and installation of AV systems in learning, work and public spaces on campus.