Modernising The Training Experience With Atlona

With changing technologies and a new generation of AV professionals, there is opportunity to revive and improve the hands-on experience – and replicate the model for global consistency, says Caroline Bjorkquist, Training Manager for Atlona.

There is a generational shift taking shape in AV, and we see that metamorphosis rippling through the industry. While hardware remains a presence with plenty of product innovation, at each major tradeshow we see the tide turning toward software. Point-to-point-based HDBaseT and HDMI system installations remain active, though networked, IP-based AV adoption accelerates each year.

The industry has also turned the corner with cloud adoption. While still a small part of the big picture, we see more cloud-enabled solutions coming to market to support monitoring, control and managed services among other functions.

Along with these changes has come an influx of younger AV talent. This latest generation of integrators and end users entered the industry with an innate IT skillset that has them more naturally attenuated to the technological shifts that are now well in motion.

The question I asked myself upon joining Atlona as Training Manager in late 2021: As the point person leading all global curriculum efforts, how can we create a training ecosystem that crosses all experience levels, touches every region, and embraces the hybrid lifestyle that our education and corporate customers follow? To the latter point, how can we augment the power of the in-person training experience, while retaining the value of our online initiatives?

Coming to Atlona offered both unique challenges and great opportunity. We all recall that nearly everything came to a full stop when the pandemic hit, followed by a period of hesitant uncertainty. This was especially true of training, and it gave us the opportunity for a full reset.

While online webinars and training programs were nothing new, there was an opportunity to reposition our overall program to better serve our partners online while we awaited the return of in-person events. Through that period, we discovered in-person trainings bring value to attendees that can’t quite be achieved online, including the hands-on element that empowers learning.

Furthermore, we considered how to make our trainings more compelling for a younger, more IT and software-minded generation with the knowledge that the industry is rapidly changing. There was also strong consideration about how to revamp our approach to internal training of new Atlona hires worldwide.

A New Dawn: The Atlona Academy

The Atlona Academy, as we call it, is designed as a training vehicle for dealers, distributors, employees and end users. Courses cover the basic elements of audio, video, networking, cabling and control as they pertain to Atlona product lines and the general AV industry. The coursework covers five levels (Foundations, Fundamentals, Programming, Design/Implementation, and Installation) and caters to both new and experienced AV professionals, with an emphasis on those installing and maintaining the equipment.

The opening of our new North American and EMEA training centers (respectively in Chicago and Schwalbach, Germany) provided us with the opportunity we sought to transform the in-person experience. While most courses begin online, they transition to in-person events to reap the benefits of hands-on training and advanced theory. With two facilitators at each training, each attendee has an opportunity to work through real-world scenarios that cover collaboration, control, AV over IP and more, providing attendees with hands-on experience before deploying systems in the field.

The presence of two facilitators also minimizes the investment in time for physical attendees. In previous similar roles for other AV companies, the first day was relegated to a show-and-tell exhibition – time that is simply not well spent for anyone involved. That has been turned on its head by immediately absorbing attendees into the hands-on experience.

For example, one of our first exercises drops attendees directly inside a simulated huddle space environment, with direct access to our WAVE-101 wireless presentation platform and Captivate products, including a camera and speakerphone. Students are setting up a small-room system straight away as opposed to being put through a round-robin exercise. As we progress to medium and large rooms, we work establishing connectivity and interoperability, and have created outlines to follow as they work through the challenges. Programmers also get their hands dirty, learning the ins and outs of configuring Velocity control and OmniStream AV over IP systems for networked AV deployments.

These exercises certainly have clear benefits for our partners and end users that install and maintaining systems. There are also substantial learning benefits for new Atlona employees, who can quickly familiarize themselves with the entire product line and explore interoperability between products and systems. With our first two training centers now fully functional with consistent schedules across all levels, we have set our sights on replicating the experience for our partners, end users and employees in Latin America and the Asia-Pacific. To learn more about Atlona Academy and out Training Centers, visit https://atlona.com/training/.

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