AV Insider Spotlight :Sharon Kaiser – Educational Technology Specialist

Each week, I am highlighting on some of the incredible people who are in the Audio Video Industry. As this blog is mostly about AV insiders, today we are profiling Sharon Kaiser .

Here is a brief intro about her.

Sharon Kaiser has worked in the Audiovisual industry for over 10 years. She is currently Educational Technology Specialist at Duke University School of Medicine

Please drop your questions in the comments below and I will make sure that she sees them.

1.Describe your journey in the AV industry? How did it start?

Like many people, my journey into AV was accidental. I provided staff development for public school teachers in New York State. I had always been able to connect the projector, video conferencing unit, or smart board for our group. Then my husband and I decided we wanted to move to North Carolina to get out of the snow. Duke Health had a job opening to manage the AV in the hospital and train the staff and faculty on how to use it. I was fortunate to get the job and begin my new AV career in August 2009! Now, I’m the Educational Technology Specialist – I love it!

2.What do you think are the challenges that are facing a new person who wants to join the industry?

As in any field, there are always challenges. In the AV field, we have the constant evolution of technology. I also think that training is necessary more now than ever. With all of the different vendors, proprietary connectors, IP schemes, it’s imperative that you know the “science” behind what you are doing. It’s possible to bring down a multimillion dollar system by connecting the wrong cable into the hardware.

3.What are the positives of working in this industry?

My favorite, are the people and the opportunities that we are able to take part in. The networking is phenomenal! In the School of Medicine, we are fortunate to have patients share their experiences with our students. Using lecture capture technology, we are able to give back to the patient and their families in a small way. Also, the community of the AV industry, among campus, other institutions, the state, the nation, and the world. We’ve collaborated across the globe and I’ve met people that I otherwise would not have had the opportunity to meet and develop relationships with.

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4.What in your opinion would you change in the industry? What are the negatives that are prevalent?

Being a female in the AV industry, I would love to see more women in these roles. The typical boy’s club is beginning to change. Even InfoComm International is addressing this with our Women in AV group. This organization establishes a source of support, education, and collaboration for women in our industry. We recently had an open position and had only one female apply among 40 men. These numbers definitely need to rise.

5.Describe your ideal client? What do you wish clients to know before hiring you?

So, in educational technology, we don’t get hired by our customers. But customer service, for our students, staff, and faculty is extremely important. Faculty may have an idea of what they want the AV experience to be like for their audience, that is always the best scenario as we can then ask the appropriate questions. Terminology like web conference, videoconference or teleconference can have different meaning to different people. It’s important to get all of the information and expectations up front to deliver the best experience. That way everyone is happy!

6.If you were going to start over, what would you do differently?

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I would definitely get my CTS (Certified Technology Specialist) before starting at Duke. I did a lot of “on the job” learning. I was fortunate to have coworkers, vendors, and integrators take the time and explain the systems design to me.

7.Describe a typical work day for you. What are your daily disciplines?

As in many AV and educational technology positions, no two days are ever the same! I like to get to work prior to any classes or events, even if that means working a 10 to 12-hour day. It’s my time to plan ahead. Also, there are always things that just come up – this gives me time to add them into my schedule. Whether it’s working with faculty or students, preparing video content for class, setting up the room AV, or updating firmware and software, the days are always busy!

8.Describe the apps and gear that you use daily which makes you more productive?

We have a plethora of apps/software/hardware that make things easier here at Duke. Simple things such as office 365, google docs, calendars, double authentication apps for security measures, Crestron apps for our iPads when we need to be away from the control room. To more advanced systems such as Learning Management systems, file sharing systems, videoconferencing codecs, electronic whiteboards, lecture capture systems, the list just goes on and on.

9. Describe your role in the campus’ academic video initiative and how using technology benefits yourself, faculty and students.

I am the Mediasite administrator for the School of Medicine. I promote and use the system daily. We have captured our lectures for years as a study aid for students. Beyond that, we implemented the flipped classroom model. The students may have anywhere from 8-15 videos that they are responsible for viewing prior to class time for a week. Then the content experts have the time to focus on those topics most important or needing reinforcement with the students. We do still capture the sessions so the students can review the material as well. There are also other symposiums and lectures that may be live streamed to reach a wider audience. The Mediasite technology allows me to schedule and monitor via the web.

The API interface is also very user friendly. We were able to add in a “click here” for assistance in viewing if the student is having issues. The button leads to a google form that the student can fill out with pertinent information. Then our team is alerted by email, so we can get the student experience on the right path quicker!

We are fortunate to have a very strong relationship with our vendor, Sonic Foundry. They are committed to assisting us in our goal to give the students and faculty the best experience possible in Medical Education. They actually implemented some of our feature requests, such as variable speed playback for our students and multiple video players so that the faculty can share content, presenter video, and simulator statistics all in sync. It’s amazing!

For more information about Sharon Kaiser, please check out her LinkedIn profile .

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Ajish Raju

About Ajish Raju

Ajish Raju is co-founder and Chief Evangelist of Favante. He loves traveling, trying new cuisines and gadgets. Reach him at ajish@ajishraju.me