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Providing Multimedia Lecture Room Services
CostsThere are a number of different costs associated with multimedia lecture theatres, falling into three main categories:
Capital CostsCapital costs cover classroom and lecture theatre design, construction and, more generally, remodelling and renovation. The costs of integrating multimedia technology into lecture theatres can be significantly reduced if provision is made for the technology whenever building work is planned. Even if such equipment will not be installed immediately, laying cables, network connections, sufficient power points etc., can all be done whenever a building is being refurbished, at a fraction of the cost of installing them separately.
Operating & Recurring CostsAlthough capital costs maybe very large, it is often easier to obtain this initial funding than the ongoing maintenance and support costs. However, these costs must be met if the technology is to be effectively used.
Annual operating costs, which include equipment servicing and maintenance, are usually estimated at around 10% of the initial system cost. As more equipment is put into place, the budget needed for AV systems replacement/upgrade will need to increase significantly. This budget should include provision for day to day operating costs, such as replacing LCD projector bulbs, which can cost up to £400. When maintenance contracts are agreed, details of response time and availability of replacement equipment need to be clearly stated. Apart from simple problems such as a faulty bulb, it is unlikely that LCD projectors and similar equipment will be repaired on site. Therefore it is important that maintenance contracts include the immediate provision of replacement equipment while the original unit is being fixed.
In addition, the cost of providing a trained technician to support the equipment on a day to day basis must be considered. Moving and installing portable equipment, routine maintenance and troubleshooting and providing technical support for LCD projectors and associated equipment, all require skilled labour.
Recurring costs cover replacing and upgrading equipment. Multimedia presentation equipment has advanced considerably over the previous twelve months, and new technologies, such as Digital Light Processor projectors, are likely to emerge over the next twelve months. It is important when purchasing new equipment that it will last both in terms of durability and technology, and that replacement parts will still be easily available in the foreseeable future.
Given the pace that the technology is changing, leasing rather than buying should also be considered, allowing sites to upgrade equipment more frequently.
DesignLCD projectors are the most likely piece of equipment to be used to give multimedia presentations. They have different requirements of a lecture theatre than the overhead and slide projectors which theatres are currently set up for. In particular, the projector needs to be relatively close to the screen, and so may block students' line of sight, and it should project at 90 degrees to the surface of the screen to minimise distortion. It is important that whenever new buildings are designed or old ones refurbished computing and AV staff are involved from an early stage to address theses issues and discuss their requirements with Estates departments.
As more equipment is installed, security issues become increasingly important. Risks associated with each room should be assessed and appropriate action, such as secure housing for equipment, taken.
RecommendationsSites should be encouraged to put in place appropriate wiring as theatres are upgraded, even if the presentation equipment is not yet available. It is very important that in doing this Estates departments liase with computing and AV staff.
It is difficult to plan for periods of equipment stability much beyond 3 years. In light of this one possible model of funding is to lease equipment.
Sites should have a plan for equipment security.
To enable funding cases to be written successfully, procedures need to be put in place in institutions to measure cost benefit. Case studies of good practice and examples of business plans could be very usefully exchanged.
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