Our next team member is a leader in the video communications industry. With his box of cables and connectors in tow, his passion for helping others connect through video in real world scenarios makes him the ultimate utility player.
- 8 years in K12 Education
- 12 years in the Audio/Video Industry
- 2005-08 TxDLA President-Elect, President, Immediate Past President
- 2009-2016 USDLA Chair of State Chapters
- 2016-2019 USDLA President-Elect, President, Board Chair
- 2015-2016 ATD Houston Virtual Technology Director
- Hometown: Cuddy, Pennsylvania
How did you get started with video communication & collaboration?
It all really began when I started teaching in 1998. As a new teacher, I was required to attend twice as much professional development as other teachers. With educational technology becoming a standard on most campuses, the majority of the sessions offered were related to that topic. I quickly became the campus go to for anything technology related.
Flash forward to a day about three years later. I noticed some people working in a large group instruction room on my campus. It was away from other rooms, at the far end of the hall. Upon further inspection, I discovered some video conferencing equipment that raised my curiosity. My distance learning journey had begun. In the beginning, video communications was hard, very hard. Especially when you were trying to figure it all out mostly on your own. It required technical expertise to make the majority of the connections work.
When I first attended the Texas Distance Learning Association (TxDLA) conference with a group from the school district, I thought, “I found my people!” It was great to connect with others to discuss what to do with the technology and how to make it work. After attending my first TxDLA conference, I wanted to tell everyone that I came in contact with about this amazing organization. I could not believe that there was an entire group of people dedicated to using distance learning technologies effectively.
After serving as President for TxDLA, I began to attend the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) conferences and network with people from throughout the nation. My perspective continued to broaden; however, the focus for me has always been on what people can do with the technology, not the hardware and software itself.
What was your career path to i2i Technologies?
I grew up in a small town outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. My first job was selling and delivering newspapers. I was literally a paper boy. Then in high school, I sold candy to help with the printing of the school yearbook. Those were my first two sales related jobs.
I graduated from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown with a degree in elementary education and moved to the Houston, Texas area for my first teaching job. Working in education is where I fell in love with distance learning. After a few years as a campus and district technologist, I joined an audio visual integration company that did a lot of work with projectors and interactive whiteboards. It was a transition from teaching to sales and what I soon missed was being able to focus mainly on video communications.
An impromptu conversation with Chris Harmon, our President and Owner, at the TxDLA conference in 2014 brought me to i2i Technologies. i2i Technologies focuses on video communication and collaboration with other related technologies coming second. They were video people and I knew I wanted to be a part of this team.
Describe a unique situation where you used video communication & collaboration.
123VC: Jazzing Up Your Curriculum With Videoconferencing is by far the most unique situation for me. I was taking an online class about how to use video conferencing in the curriculum taught by Janine Lim and hosted by a service center in Michigan. Oddly enough, that’s how I met a soon to be Texas distance learning colleague and best friend, Bennie Tschoerner.
In 2005, he invited me to present to his teachers during a week-long video conferencing related staff development session. I needed to do the same type of activity with the staff in my school district, so we pulled in Janine and all decided to collaborate and connect through video during that week. This was an unusual, and unheard of at the time, professional development session as the participants, instructors, and guests were dispersed across multiple locations. In 2015, this workshop was acknowledged by the TxDLA with the Outstanding Commitment to Excellence and Innovation in Distance Learning Award.
From your perspective, how has the industry changed over time, where do you see it going, and why does that matter?
We are finally in a time period where we can begin with the task at hand and then identify the technologies that will help us best meet our goals and objectives. When I began in video, it was such a struggle to make the technology work. It became the focus and we had to basically reverse-engineer the activity to make it fit the technology.
Now things have flipped. Cloud technologies have transformed the way things work making them simple, flexible, and scalable while also minimizing the barrier of cost. With the promise of the technology catching up, we are seeing the re-emergence of video because people understand the value of synchronous communications where you can not only talk with others, but see them as well. We need to do more than just read and respond to email and text messages. We need to strengthen our human connections. There is something in that interaction with other people that helps us process and better understand things. It’s an exciting time to work in the industry.
What words or phrases would you use to describe i2i Technologies?
- Video People.
These are in order of importance for me.
Before joining i2i Technologies, I had many conversations with Chris and Roxanne. Caring is a word that came to mind after each interaction. Sometimes people want to buy all this stuff and it might not be what is best for them. i2i Technologies cares about the long-term success of the people and organizations we work with.
The second word is partnership. We prefer to have a conversation to design a simple, effective solution that meets the stated goals and objectives. We strive to create partnerships so that everyone has a role in the success of the project. Our team strives to connect people.
Finally, video people. We use video in some way almost everyday as we conduct our internal business. We implement and believe in the products and solutions that we recommend to others.
What do you like to do and how do you spend your time?
It is hard for me to talk about my personal stuff. Believe it or not, I am an introverted person that likes to think and have discussions about things. I could literally never get anything done and be quite happy with it as long as the ideas continued to develop through thought and conversation.
I enjoy spending time with my 16-year old daughter. We are involved with my church. It is really good to get connected with others who have nothing to do with what I do for work. I am also an active member in a couple of men’s bible study groups.
I realize that I began by saying that I could just think and talk about things with never really doing anything and being quite happy. To work on that, I have developed several other hobbies recently: bowling, working out, learning how to play the guitar, and disc golf. Generally, I am a frustrated beginner with these activities. I am learning patience and to accept where I am as I progress in my skills. These activities are good to get me out and connecting with others.