InfoComm’s response was to develop a three-tiered course system with a section on the basics of networking; a network technology course similar to training you might see from CompTIA but with an AV focus; and the specific Networked AV Systems course that gives those with good fundamentals a more hands-on experience.
InfoComm even went so far as to create and publish a book, Networked AV Systems, with McGraw Hill.
Melissa Taggart, senior VP of education at InfoComm, says, “We [at InfoComm] converged our curriculum a long time ago. Our curriculum is current in that regard through all the tracks that we offer.”
By providing training opportunities throughout the year with live classes at the annual InfoComm tradeshow, regional events and online — both instructed webinars and course material — there is always something that can be learned. But when it comes to the IT training, it really begins with the IT skills diagnostics test available online to help AV professionals understand which level of training/education is most appropriate for them to continue advancing their development.
Taggart says InfoComm is “always looking at supplementing some of the new trends that are going on” and that the organization is always “looking for new things to release through our webinar series and other opportunities.”
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In continuing to push the industry forward InfoComm is always thinking a year ahead, planning for next June’s tradeshow almost as soon as the announcement bellows to close this year’s. As the attendance at tradeshows starts shifting to include a lot more IT professionals, Taggart says, the “us versus them” attitude in AV seems to be less pervasive and that there is “more healthy respect for unique expertise.”
And those seeking the integration knowledge are not necessarily representing just AV professionals anymore, but now there are also IT directors, technology managers, and media specialists attending the shows, making it harder to get a seat in some of the education courses.
Taggart encourages people to “come to the show a few days early to take courses so that [attendees] can put into context what they are seeing on the show floor.”
There Is Always a Best Practice
The thing that is sometimes forgotten in the AV industry is that there are more places to turn than just manufacturer specific training and InfoComm International.
One of the other groups that works with the technology industries is BICSI. Tom Bennett, an ICT training delivery specialist for BICSI, emphasizes that the organization is “all about best practices,” and touts how they develop their training courses by taking input from the professionals that are out there designing and installing IT and AV systems.
Bennett says he spends a lot of time teaching IT technology, from infrastructure and network cabling backbones, to best practices and standards in proper system design. BICSI has even gone so far as to develop Standard 002 in which they define all that is entailed in the proper design of a data center.
When asked about the AV/IT convergence, Bennett says he sees it as “a common evolution” and raised the comparison to the telecommunications industry and its evolution from analog to digital. “If manufacturers do their jobs and everyone understands the limitations of the systems and the training is provided, it is not a difficult transition to make,” he suggests.
Since the BICSI focus is on establishing best practices and standards, Bennett explored some of the options that come into consideration for AV/IT design. He specifically addressed the idea of building a separate network for AV infrastructure as they do in the security industry to ensure there are no bandwidth issues due to the amount of data involved in passing video over IP.
Toward that end, BICSI hopes to ensure that integrators and systems designers always ask, “can this [existing] network withstand the network requirements of this AV system I’m about to overlay on it?”