When it comes to the SCHOMS community, the age-old saying that no man is an island undoubtedly rings true and it’s demonstrated, appropriately enough, by the experiences of an island university.
AV professionals at the University of Malta – the main university on the Mediterranean island between Sicily and the north African coast, almost 1400 miles from SCHOMS’ administrative base in Birmingham – have been counting the benefits of becoming associated members of SCHOMS ever since signing up in 2015.
“Associate membership has brought our team closer to a community of practitioners working towards improving the quality of learning spaces in HEIs,” said James Cilia, IT Services Deputy Director & Head of User Services.
James explained that the AV industry in Malta is focused on entertainment, businesses, home automation, marine and gaming. So the AV team – based within IT Services – looks at overseas universities to learn about benchmarks and trends related to AV and IT in learning spaces.
“The associate membership has been extremely beneficial for both technical and managerial staff involved in the design, delivery and maintenance of AV technologies in both formal and informal learning spaces.”
The SCHOMS conference particularly helped the University of Malta delegates to understand how challenges related to AV in learning spaces were being met.
“The non-product specific presentations, AV-focused exhibitions and networking all expose our delegates to current and upcoming AV technologies,” James said.
He gave examples of how his team kept in touch with delegates from other universities to continue learning and share experiences.
“Tessa Rogowski facilitated our contact with an engineer at Essex who had experienced issues with capture devices for our Panopto-based lecture capture system.
“Caroline Pepper also offered her assistance to host a delegation from our sports department to visit Loughborough. Unfortunately, this visit did not materialise because the refurbishment of our University sports complex was put on hold.”
SCHOMS connections had enabled three AV team members to visit UK universities at Edinburgh, Leicester and Bath on ERASMUS+ exchange programmes.
“These placements were facilitated by SCHOMS members who kindly hosted and organised informative sessions with their staff,” James said.
“We also managed a visit to London-based universities – LSE, UCL, City University and Imperial – to learn more about their AV standards in small lecture rooms and lecture theatres.”
James added that AV team members at the University of Malta closely monitor the SCHOMS mailing list to learn about AV technologies, challenges and experiences. He suggested this could be taken a step further by the introduction of a simple SCHOMS online reference database.
The database – like a Google sheet – could list the URL of AV team websites, contacts and brands of institutionally-supported AV systems for lecture capture, controllers, data projectors, instructional desks, microphone brands and classroom voting systems.
“This could, for example, help members learn about experiences elsewhere before procuring AV systems/equipment,” he said.
James also came up with an offer that would no doubt gladden the hearts of rain swept mainland SCHOMS members.
“We do understand that there may be logistical problems to organise the SCHOMS conference in Malta,” he said, “but we would certainly be happy to welcome the SCHOMS community.”
• Until such time as a SCHOMS conference in Malta comes to fruition, you can find out more about the island at www.visitmalta.com