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I just got back from a Content Action Team meeting (CAT) held at CEDIA’s headquarters in Indianapolis. I’m starting my first year as a CAT team member for the Customer Relations college (ESCR). I’ve been involved with CEDIA in the past as an instructor at Expo and as a Subject Matter Expert (SME) but this is my first year involved on a CAT Team. I’m so motivated right now by the positive energy I felt at the meeting earlier this week I just wanted to communicate to everyone reading this blog a little bit about what goes into making CEDIA University exist.

At the meeting held Monday and Tuesday of this week, representatives of every CAT Team were present: Business (ESB), Customer Relations (ESCR), Designer (ESD), Project Management (ESPM) and Technician (EST). As a CAT Team member, it’s our job to evaluate the courses offered through the ESCR college, make decisions regarding which courses need to be changed/updated as well as to identify any new courses needing to be created to keep the offering current and relevant. In previous years, each CAT team made the trip to CEDIA individually – so this was the first year to have this type of a ‘Summit’. I think I speak for everyone involved that having everyone come at once was a huge success!

Our time was split between large meetings as a group discussing issues about CEDIA University as a whole and breakout meetings with our individual CAT teams. The positive ideas, mind-sharing and brainstorming were incredible experience to be a part of. There were over 40 volunteers, industry icons, several members of the board as well as the CEDIA education staff present and everyone was passionate about making CEDIA University the best it can be.

I was very impressed with the well designed process that’s been developed in the last few years by staff and volunteers preceding me. I was also surprised at the depth to which the courses are evaluated by the CAT Teams. Each Content Action Team consists of a Chair, a Vice Chair, several members and a CEDIA Staff member assigned to the team. As a team we broke off into our meeting room and reviewed every course offered through the ESCR College. Each course was evaluated taking several factors into account:

  1. Attendee Evaluations: Each time you take a CEDIA University course you are asked to complete a course evaluation. I was never quite certain on the degree to which these were used to improve the courses. I was encouraged to find that the attendee evaluations play a major role in this CAT process. The scores and written comments are tabulated for every course into a summary sheet giving summary scores for each section of the evaluation, an overall average as well as the comments written by attendees.
  2. CAT Team Course Evaluations: A member of each CAT team is assigned to sit in on and review specific courses at CEDIA Expo. These evaluation forms are much more detailed and specific and provide tremendous insight into the course quality, instruction quality as well as recommendations for improvements and identification of any errors. Attendee verbal comments and suggestions are noted in their report too.
  3. Instructor Reviews: Each instructor completes an evaluation of the course themselves, making comments on specific improvements that can be made to the course or recommendations for changes
  4. Historical Data: Information such as past instructor reviews of the course and past attendee evaluation scores for the course are taken into account as well.
  5. Content: Each CAT member is given access to the assigned courses they have assessed so that they can review the actual content of the course. Knowing what is taught in the classroom is important to know if it was taught effectively. Content knowledge is also important for knowing what changes should be made.

All of this information is used to help make decisions on each course. The courses are split up and assigned to the CAT Team members; a Subject Matter Expert (SME) from our industry is assigned to each course as well to act as an expert on the topic and help make revisions/ improvements to the course. The courses are assigned a priority code (1-3) depending upon the amount of changes and how time sensitive those changes are. It’s also noted which courses can be offered online through CEDIA’s e-learning and webinar programs. Also taken into account is the need for any new courses to help fill any gaps in the education made by recent trends or new technology.

As I’m writing this I’m realizing that I’m only really scratching the surface in explaining the massive process involved with making CEDIA University the great education platform it has become. I’m baffled by the sheer number of people involved in the process (CAT Team members, Subject Matter Experts, Instructors, etc…). My time spent volunteering with CEDIA has been very rewarding – the networking, friendships and knowledge sharing have been amazing. Learn more about volunteer opportunities here: http://www.cedia.net/contact_us/vol_council.php