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Season 2, Episode 3 – Higher Ed AV Tech: What’s Next?

What does the future hold for higher ed and AV? In this episode we will speak with Joe Way, chairman of the Higher Education Technology Manager’s Alliance (and director of learning environments at the University of Southern California) as we seek to gain insight into the direction technology is moving in this $27B pro AV vertical.

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Episode guest

Josiah Way, PhD, CTS
Director of Learning Environments, University of Southern California, and Chair of HETMA

Dr. Josiah Way is the Director of Learning Environments at the University of Southern California, in Los Angeles, CA, and the 2019 AV Professional of the Year. Joe is the CEO of the Higher Ed AV Media Group, hosts Higher Ed AV podcast, and is the co-founder and chair of the Higher Education Technology Managers Alliance (, aimed at connecting the higher ed tech manager community and advocating for their common audiovisual needs. He is the author of the bestselling book, Producing Worship: A Theology of Church Technical Arts, and serves on the AVIXA Tech Managers and Diversity Councils. Joe is an Orange County, CA, native with over 25 years’ experience in education, technical production and the arts, and organizational leadership and management. Over his career, Dr. Way has received diverse awards in the areas of education, the arts, and business, and is a regular keynote speaker and writer for AV-industry and higher ed conferences and media outlets.

Episode transcript

Justin Kennington (00:09):

Wow. Hello everybody. Sorry for that. My microphone receiver was off. Forget the technical difficulties let’s get on with the show. Today’s special guest is Joe Way, who is the president of the Higher Education Technology Managers Association. I’ll let Joe tell you a little bit about that organization, while he and I focus our conversation on the last couple of years in higher ed technology, what has changed? What hasn’t changed and where is the future of that industry headed? I want to remind all of you to get your questions into us at, drop an email to that address, and it will show up right over there on that desk in front of me, it will also show up with Matt in the hotline central. And we’re going to check in with Matt after this question. Here we are at the hotline central. Matt, are you there?

Matt Dodd (01:20):

Yes, I am. Did you get a bit nervous there, Justin? So funny.

Justin Kennington (01:25):

No, not nervous at all. In fact, I had no idea there was a problem.

Matt Dodd (01:27):

It just goes to show that this really is live, but hey, the show goes on and you can hopefully all hear us now. We’ve certainly got some audience participation back saying you guys are great. You guys are so good. Even in the face of adversity you just keep pressing on like good old men. There you go. How are you? How are you feeling?

Justin Kennington (01:48):

I’m good. I’m just wondering at what point is adversity too much adversity, but I suppose we’ll find out in the full course of time.

Matt Dodd (01:56):

In the fullness of time. And just let me say thank you to all of you as well for your lovely, polite comments. You so lovely about last week’s technical issues that were beyond our control, but the show went on. That’s the main thing, we got on with the show we made it happen and we brought a really good interview JK and our guests last week. So thank you for your patience, as we get over these occasional technical stumbles. I’m here in hotline central, I’m going to be busy well looking after the guys manning the computers. So get over your questions and comments Please do. There’s a chat box just below here as well. So pop your questions in that. I’m here to man that and bring it to JK and the guest. And we’ve already had some questions and comments with Jill Sanders from the university of Southern Wisconsin, JK considers and or wonders considering the difficulty of the past couple of years, what has not changed that surprises you? What has not changed that surprises you? There’s one to think about.

Justin Kennington (02:56):

We’ll put that to Joe, see what he thinks.

Matt Dodd (02:58):


Justin Kennington (02:59):

All right. Well, why don’t we head on and do some news, Matt? Why don’t you leave your guys there in the hotline central. They’ve got it under control. Come join me in the studio and let’s see what’s been happening this week.

Matt Dodd (03:08):

I will indeed. Here I am.

Justin Kennington (03:30):

In here.

Matt Dodd (03:30):

It’s a bit of a rundown those stairs. So forgive me if I look a bit disheveled, but it’s all going on up there in hotline central.

Justin Kennington (03:36):

Little winded.

Matt Dodd (03:38):

Should we get on with me some news?

Justin Kennington (03:40):

Let’s do it.

Matt Dodd (03:44):

Well, the first topic that we comes to attention is the AVoIP, the IT in AV, quite a techy section, but I’ll come back to my thoughts on this in a minute. I want to hear your thoughts first Justin.

Justin Kennington (03:58):

Sure, sure. In this article, James King writing for Higher Ed AV Media, first he said, “Look, AV over IP is interesting for the university market. It’s going to help make our classrooms more streamlined,” but then he went on to acknowledge some of the technical, I don’t even want to say challenges, but some of the new techniques, new best practices and new kind of systems that an administrator that a designer needs to be aware of and understand. And he framed it in terms of some of the courses that he took at INFOCOM back in October. And it looked to me like he did just the right things, covering some of the important bases, including multicasting, including some talk about power over ethernet issues around security. So he did a good job of covering… His article is not going to teach you those things. His article is laying out here are the things that you should learn, whether at an INFOCOM or somewhere like right here in the SDVoE Academy, where we teach about many of those same concepts. Matt, what stood out for you?

Matt Dodd (05:00):

Yeah. Along the same lines, the technology thing is very, very important. There’s a number of if you’re reading through this and you’re thinking, oh, wow, this is going over my head a little bit, then we urge you that you need to be confident in the terminology used within this piece. He talks about layer four, layer three, he talks about TCPIP, lots of protocol information there. IGMP a layer three protocol used for multicasting and how that is effectively supporting AVoIP. So understanding this technology is extremely important for you. He also talks about the zero trust architecture, which I found quite interesting. The fact that you must follow proper security practices, if we’re going to make the most out of AVoIP, it’s the next step in classroom designs, but it does need knowledge. Don’t read this through and think, “Oh, just leave that to the tech heads to do this.” Everything you need is on academy to learn all about this, but please do, step up your knowledge, be confident, and it’s really going to help you moving forward.

Justin Kennington (06:06):

You’re the first person I’ve ever heard pronounce it, AVoIP in my life. I like that. I say let’s go for it. Let’s start a new trend, #AVoIP.

Matt Dodd (06:15):


Justin Kennington (06:15):

Oh, wait a minute. That’s not going to work as a hashtag, is it?

Matt Dodd (06:18):


Justin Kennington (06:19):

Because they’ll just see AV. Anyway, one of the things I wanted to highlight from the article, James talked about power over ethernet as a new design issue. It’s not just a great new, easy way to plug in devices, right? Isn’t that wonderful. Your network device can get its power and its signal through a single cable. But if you start doing a lot of that, that’s going to put a lot of power demands on the switch that has to deliver all that power. So now it becomes, well, if I have 25 devices and they are 22 Watts each, then my switch can produce 600 Watts. You’ve got to think through one more issue in the design, something I wanted to highlight. And I’ll be honest, brag about a little bit, is that here in the SDVoE ecosystem, one of our founding and steering members Semtech actually who happens to be a sponsor of this week’s show has developed an ASIC chip for delivering SDVoE functionality. So now the member companies of SDVoE who use that can take advantage of huge power savings.

Justin Kennington (07:18):

So now an AV over IP encoder that might have consumed 15, 17, 18 Watts before on an FPGA based platform might consume five or six or seven Watts now, you can see huge power savings. So I think especially as power over ethernet comes to the fore as a viable and reliable… What am I’m trying to say, as a commonplace technology, that power savings that an ASIC, that SDVoE can deliver is going to be really huge.

Matt Dodd (07:46):

Indeed. Okay. Well, let’s move to the second piece of news, which actually warmed my heart when I read this, it’s fantastic that the Epson are joining forces with low cost wireless tech firm, World Media, or World Mobile rather, to bring low cost, but effective and really needed wireless tech to the people out there in Africa who just don’t have any access to any tech. These guys are completely unconnected ironically to everything that we’ve just been talking about. We’re spending time, money, and effort, really raising the bar with technology. What’s really lovely about this article is it’s showing that we’re also making the effort to get out there and really support the people that absolutely need it. It’s not their fault they need to get involved with technology, they need the technology to be educated, to get up to speed and join us with this new technology trend coming across the globe. And this for me, this is really shaping the way for things to come. So a great article.

Justin Kennington (08:58):

I mean, we saw in the Q and A on the screen before we’re spending tens of billions of dollars on educational technology, presumably because we as a society, believe that that holds value, our students will learn better, will have better outcomes as a result of the use of that technology. So if there are schools in the world that have no access to the internet, no access to videos that they can learn from, no access to printers that they can, I don’t know, write papers on, how is that gap going to widen and to see companies like Epson, like World Mobile working to help keep that gap, I don’t know if they’re going to close it, but at least to help minimize the growth of that gap. I think that’s a very important thing for us all to consider and all to work on as we think about how privileged we are to worry about power over ethernet specs in our switch.

Matt Dodd (09:49):


Justin Kennington (09:49):

Wouldn’t some people love to have that problem.

Matt Dodd (09:53):

Yes. I’d strongly recommend you check out these news articles. Obviously, make sure that you keep your questions coming in, Keep your chat comments coming in. As we head out of the news now, Justin, you’ve got a great interview with Joe coming up, so I’m probably going to head off if that’s okay. Head over back to the guys upstairs, back into hotline central, and I’ll catch you later but have a good interview.

Justin Kennington (10:18):

Go crack a whip. We’ll see you after we talk to Joe. So speaking of Joe, I already mentioned he’s the chair of the Higher Education Technology Managers Association. He works at the University of Southern California. So he is actually working in higher ed tech. No better person, I think, to talk about what the last couple of years have meant and how things are headed. So let’s bring him on. Joe, are you with us?

Joe Way (10:43):

I am here. Hey, thank you for having me on. And first off, yes, there were a lot better people who could talk about this than me, but I still appreciate you inviting me.

Justin Kennington (10:52):

Well, let’s be clear. I’m talking about people who answered the phone when I called. The guys who didn’t answer, they can’t be on the show. So no better for us.

Joe Way (11:00):

You got to keep going down the list, but here I am.

Justin Kennington (11:04):

Yeah. Well, thank you. Thank you for joining us. I didn’t mention it yet, but I wanted to, the reason that Joe is on the show, we do the news segment. You just saw us do it, last year, episode four or five, I found an article that Joe had written called past, present and present again. And when I talk about technology, when I present, I like to look at history and see the big, long term trends. When I’m talking about AV over IP against the matrix switch, I think back to the 1930s and the introduction of television and how we got there.

Justin Kennington (11:36):

And I read this article from Joe where he talked about how Aristotle taught things and what an impact the printing press was as a piece of AV technology for learning. And I said, “Wow, I thought I was throwing it back 100 years. This guy’s going for millennia. This is amazing. I got to meet him.” So thanks for the article, Joe, because I really did enjoy it. And it’s what inspired me to say, “Hey, this is the guy I’m going to call, forget those other people who are better qualified to talk about this. I want to talk to Joe and he can tell us about Aristotle.”

Joe Way (12:07):

It always starts in there, it’s all in there.

Justin Kennington (12:10):

It’s amazing. Why don’t you start by telling us a little bit about, can I call it HETMA? Save a little time there?

Joe Way (12:16):

Absolutely. Yes. So HETMA, the Higher Education Technology Managers Alliance, which is definitely a mouthful is an advocacy group. We were created in order to be able to advocate and speak for the needs of the higher education vertical within the greater AV industry. As your graphic showed, higher ed education accounts for $27 billion in annual spend within the AV industry, which is no small chunk, but also professionals within the higher ed vertical have been more aligned with the integrators and really consider ourselves inhouse integrators as end users but also those who have found ourselves to be more professional. Like when I got my SDVoE certification at a show and I was in a room with half of us being higher ed people, from within the area. And so as we start to do that, we recognize the need to be able to advocate for ourselves and speak for the vertical and the special needs that we have. And that’s really what we’re there for. So, that is HETMA’s purpose.

Justin Kennington (13:23):

What I wanted to ask is what is it about you folks in higher ed that gives you that, I don’t know what I want to call it, it’s like a do-it-yourself kind of spirit. I know there are many talented AV people in the corporate space that own their spaces and do a good job of managing them, but it feels like they do lean on their consultants on their integrators more than the university guys. What’s that about?

Joe Way (13:51):

I love that, the do it yourself spirit, that go at it, but I’ll tell you there is a secret behind the scenes. A little bit is yeah, we recognize that we are tighter and closer to our end users than most anybody else and the other verticals, right?

Justin Kennington (14:10):


Joe Way (14:10):

Because as people working for an institution, we have our own customers. We can’t just go and have a consultant come and design the system, an integrator come in, put it in and then leave because we’re the ones having to deal with it later. So what we’ve recognized is our unique position to be able to speak for those who are going to use the space, but also then serve as a mediator there between the rest of the industry and have our integrators come in and we can speak for, and be the voice for the ones who end up using the space, because we’re the ones who are going to have to support it. Likewise, because even though our institutions, so we have a lot of… One thing that HETMA does is we have our backend channels, where we’re not necessarily alone. We’re a great community behind the scenes that everybody doesn’t necessarily notice. And so therefore we can get together and we can think tank for ourselves where we might go into our backend slack channels and say, “Hey, I have this problem. How have you solved it?”

Joe Way (15:08):

And you’ll get 20 or 30 different schools chiming in saying, “Well, this is how I did it. Look at this product. Here’s a specialist, an SME that I used, why don’t you reach out to them?” So we have a network that really we can build upon and we can support one another with that you just don’t necessarily see, which is also very unique in the AV industry. A lot of times you won’t see, no private company is going to go call their competitor and say, “Hey, how did you solve this?” Right? You’re going to rely on other channels where we don’t have that. Our schools might compete against one another for students. But as tech managers, within the institutions, we’re all colleagues, whether it be small schools, larger schools, private schools, public schools, whatever, we all face, similar challenges. And therefore we recognize that you can kind of come together and support one another in that way. So that’s the secret sauce behind the scenes.

Justin Kennington (16:02):

That’s what I never thought of, the last point you touched on that the corporate guys fundamentally are out there competing with each other. And there’s a spirit of collaboration of collegiality among universities and educational institutions that is just fundamentally different, than what the for-profit corporate world is as out there to achieve. That’s fascinating. I never thought about that. You also talked about the liaison that you create between the technology and your users. Now I want to turn to these past couple of years. And you know what, there’s something on my mind that I want to say to the audience and I briefed you on this, Joe. There are a few special keywords, that if I say them, it sets off these weird flags in Google and YouTube and starts giving me trouble on our advertising and promotion platform.

Justin Kennington (16:50):

So when I say things like the last couple of years and oh, things have been very different for higher ed and there’s like a C word I’m not saying, and things like that, it’s because I’m avoiding those keywords. I think it’s a little strange. I’m not trying to sit here and promote misinformation. I’m trying to talk about how our world has changed, but anyway, that’s why I’m speaking in so many euphemisms, so bear with me. Joe, these last couple of years have vastly accelerated whatever trends may have existed or new towards hybrid learning environments, towards unified collaboration, towards everybody being on Zoom or Teams all the time. How has it been for you as someone who I assume part of your role is to train and support your users in the use of this new technology that they got shoved into all of a sudden. So what in the world was that like?

Joe Way (17:43):

God, yeah, let me tell you, it was the most frustrating, confusing, scary, and exciting time that we could ever have imagined in higher ed. It’s been said over and over again, you’ve seen it that, technology advanced five years in five days and all these other things which were all true. And in higher ed, we were really kind of primed for it. If you look at things like software defined ecosystems and UC technologies and AV over IP technologies, our industry was already ready for it. We were there. It’s just what was missing was mass adoption. Okay. It took a major global event for that mass adoption to happen. And so, as we all went and moved to hybrid learning, we had to figure out that we have a problem. Problem meaning content needs to be delivered globally in real time. And to be able to still support our customers, the tuition paying students. And yet we never thought about that in our classrooms.

Joe Way (18:53):

We never thought, well, what if we had to deliver this without anybody there, how are we going to do that? And so that’s where we recognized, Hey, tech platforms, UC platforms were there, whichever one you want to use. Network technology is already there, whichever one you want to use. It now said, Hey, okay, well now how can we adopt this? And so what we saw was, as everybody moved online, our campuses got empty and we all got to say, “Well, now what?” And we had administrators saying, “Now what? How are you going to solve this? How are you going to bring us back?” Where maybe at one at the table, we used to sit there and go, we would have to argue for our new technology. We would have to argue for the budgets to do this stuff. And the next thing is you’ve got the government throwing money around to every school saying, “Here, you need to upgrade. You need to solve this problem. How are you going to do it?”

Justin Kennington (19:45):

Go figure it out.

Joe Way (19:45):

And now we have a voice in this table. Exactly. Right. And so now we had that ability to say, okay, let’s rethink, how are we going to do this? Can we utilize this unique situation in order to advance our own campuses, advance us years. And that’s where I think we really sit. And I think now, and even going back, you had the right in question earlier of what hasn’t changed. Well, what hasn’t changed was the need for information and the need for community. And this is where going back to my other answer about HETMA’s purpose is we also could get together and go, “Okay, where is AV? Where is the technology going? What are we seeing at INFOCOM?”

Joe Way (20:27):

I mean, and this is what you… When you did walk the floor at INFOCOM, you saw everything. Software defined, network defined. Software defined, that was it. That’s what we saw as we saw the direction the AV industry moving in. And as a vertical, we got empty rooms for two years to say, “Let’s put this in and let’s go for it.” And I think that’s going to be the biggest change. And I see higher ed really leading the charge in the future because we’ve had that opportunity to jump ahead, where maybe, standard businesses, corporations didn’t really get that opportunity where we did. And we had to do it in volume. We had to do it in hundreds of rooms. And I think that’s a huge advantage for us.

Justin Kennington (21:06):

Yeah. Scale is… What do they say? Quantity is its own kind of quality.

Joe Way (21:12):

Thank you.

Justin Kennington (21:14):

Were there any major trends for you, that existed, that were running along in 2018, 2019, that suddenly got derailed but that’s no longer the direction we’re heading, what happened there? And we’ve got about a minute.

Joe Way (21:29):

Yeah. Oh, oh, you’re only going to give me a minute to give an answer. I don’t know if I can do that.

Justin Kennington (21:36):

We’ll have you back for the after show, don’t worry.

Joe Way (21:37):

I was thinking about that before too, of what were the conversations we were having. And it’s interesting that none of us were talking about the Zooms, the Teams, those things in the classrooms, but we were thinking of, oh, should we lecture, what about the flipped classroom? How do we do the rooms with six screens around them and everyone collaborates here and goes here and now that’s crickets. Now you sit there and go, well, why do we need that? Everybody’s screen is the laptop they bring into the room, right? How can we deliver content to that and not the screens around the room? How can we deliver content to them via LMS system rather than through a PowerPoint playing and matrixing it out, right? Those are the changes and conversations that we had that now we have changed.

Justin Kennington (22:26):

There you go. Fascinating. Well, look, Joe, I’m going to let you go for now. We’re going to wrap up the show, but please stay right there. We’re going to have you back for the after show. I’ve got a couple more questions because this was fascinating. We’ve already got questions coming in from the audience. So we’ll take more of those. Don’t forget or right there in the chat if you’re logged into the academy or lavnch. Joe will be back with you in a few minutes and let’s do a fact chat for the audience.

Matt Dodd (23:09):

Do you need some batteries? I’ve got loads of batteries. I’ve done an order on Amazon for some to batteries. Double As here.

Justin Kennington (23:17):

Not any more.

Matt Dodd (23:20):

Great interview. Looking forward to hanging out with Joe a little bit more in the after show. Really good interview.

Justin Kennington (23:24):

Yeah, for sure.

Matt Dodd (23:26):

We’ve got activity on So thanks Lloyd. Thanks for bringing your questions. We’re going to throw that to the guys at the after show. Thank you very much. Keep them coming in. Keep the chats coming in below. I’m looking around because obviously I’m making sure that your chats, they’re flowing in. They’re flowing in. So keep it going. Just to remind you all from an education perspective, if you enjoyed today’s show, we’ve got some related courses linked down on this page. First one we’ve got there is IT over AV. An interesting concept. What do you mean Matt? Sure, it’s AV over IT and AV over IP. You might think that, but it’s not always the case IT over AV. It really starts to change your head around a little bit. It makes you think properly. Makes you think logically about the best way to design a network, to achieve that true level of convergence that we keep banging on about here at the SDVoE.

Matt Dodd (24:16):

We don’t just make it up. Watch that. Great course. You’ll thoroughly enjoy it. There’s SDVoE in eSports at Harrisburg University, really interesting course. We built a great eSports course, which you should also check out. Some good CGI in there, some good action. Great big, it’s taking over the world and Harrisburg University have seen this and they’re doing something about it. So check it out. And finally, there is a classic SDVoE in education. We have a new vertical markets section in academy and you’ll find SDVoE in education in there. So definitely check that out. There’s links down below here on this page. Keep the chats coming in, keep it coming in. I’m going to head off now back to the noise and rabble that is hotline central. And we’ll hand you back over to JK in the studio.

Justin Kennington (25:13):

Thank you, Matt. We’re all wrapped up, thank you. Very special thank you to our guest Joe Way. We’re going to see him again in just a minute. I want to offer thanks to our sponsor for this show, Semtech one of the founding and steering members of the SDVoE Alliance. Thanks for them for supporting the Alliance and also supporting SDVoE LIVE. Those who want to connect with us on social media, please do. You’ll find everything about the show at #SDVoELIVE. So watch for that. You’ll find us on Twitter, you’ll find us on LinkedIn and all of those wonderful places. We do this every two weeks. Don’t forget. Right now it’s Tuesday a little bit after one o’clock, two weeks from today, what’s that? December 14th, Tuesday at one o’clock we’ll be having our next live show with our guest Mark Coxon. He wrote a piece that we’re going to talk about called AV Supply Chain Disruption: Is It Our Own Fault?

Justin Kennington (26:04):

He makes, to me, a very compelling argument that manufacturers in the AV industry have spent decades building up a system of walled gardens that necessarily led us to the supply chain problems that some of us are living with today. So what can we do about it? How can we as an industry be better and be more resilient? We’ll talk about that with Mark in two weeks. Meanwhile, if you miss this show or you miss that show or any show, you can catch us up on our archives, which are available on the lavnch platform on SDVoE Academy, and right there on our YouTube channel SDVoE Alliance. Don’t forget to go there and like, and subscribe. If you want details about the show, the upcoming schedules, check out, and I’m going to sign off and I’ll see you all in the after show. Keep your questions coming to Goodnight, everybody. See you soon.


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