Over the decades, AVIXA has been committed to supporting and providing resources for the expanding workforce in the audiovisual industry. Of all AVIXA’s efforts, readers will be particularly familiar with the Certified Technology Specialist (CTS) certification program. The audio-visual certification program is accredited by the American representative of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Today, the organization says it has more than 13,000 certificate holders worldwide. The program also offers specialized certification offers: the CTS-I, which certifies installation expertise, and the CTS-D, which certifies design expertise.
Right here, Commercial Integrator meets Dan Goldstein, CMO of AVIXA, to discuss the ever-evolving CTS program. Since January, AVIXA and its Pearson VUE partners have started offering proctored CTS exams online. In this article, we will delve deeper into the importance of establishing online surveillance. At the same time, we will explore the practical implications for candidates taking the remote CTS exam.
The Importance of CTS Certification
According to Goldstein, the CTS program has become the de facto standard for audiovisual expertise. Currently, there are CTS holders in over 100 countries. “It’s not just in the United States or Europe,” he explains. “We have the CTS [holders] in India, Australia, Qatar, Argentina and Mexico. There is no major saving I would say where we don’t have CTS [holders].” Goldstein adds that it’s not just an integrator phenomenon either. “There is a growing number of end users [taking the exam]“, he notes.
Highlighting the program’s popularity, Goldstein notes that CTS certification helps establish an individual’s technical capabilities. It thus brings credibility in relation to this knowledge. Additionally, he adds, being CTS certified can help an individual gain recognition, and possibly even achieve greater influence – or higher pay – within their organization.
Goldstein also cites the sometimes complicated relationship between the audiovisual and computer disciplines. Here, he notes, “certifications have been an important component of IT for many years, and CTS has often bolstered the credibility of the inner workings of AV.” Essentially, the CTS designation indicates that the holder has the appropriate skills to maintain AV systems and provide in-house AV services.
A reference rooted in standards
Since the CTS program spans the globe, it is important for AVIXA to ensure that it is a globally recognized and respected title. Goldstein says accreditation of the CTS program by ISO’s US representative, ANSI, is an indicator of quality assurance and adherence to global standards, as well as a benchmark for validity and reliability. objectivity of the program.
Emphasizing the global reach and respect of the CTS title, Goldstein points to the European Union (EU) and what you see there. “Essentially,” he began, “if you don’t have CTS [holders] on your staff, you cannot bid for EU work. Goldstein continues: “It is important because the EU serves as an example. If a certain way of working is established by the EU in terms of provisions, then many national governments, local governments and NGOs [non-governmental organizations] am the.”
Goldstein is excited about the rise and recognition of people seeking CTS certification in countries like Germany, Spain and others. It refers to AVIXA’s ongoing plans to bring back on-site testing (in multiple languages) to ISE 2022. The postponed show will be held May 10-13, 2022 at Fira de Barcelona in Spain.
We viewed accessibility generally as an association, but, like so many other things, the pandemic acted as an accelerator.
Dan Goldstein, Marketing Director of AVIXA
The need for online proctored CTS exams
The most significant recent development in the program is the previously mentioned introduction of online proctored CTS exam options. The evolution was born from a combined effort of AVIXA and Pearson VUE. Online proctored exams have three language options: English, German and Spanish. Announced last month, this change stems not only from the continued closure of testing centers related to COVID-19, but also from AVIXA’s commitment to making its programs more accessible.
“We think of accessibility in general as an association, but, like so many other things, the pandemic has acted as an accelerator,” says Goldstein. It also recognizes the challenges of local restrictions. This led the AVIXA team to look for other ways to allow people to take the CTS exam. Goldstein adds: “We [also] necessary to maintain compliance with ANSI standards, but ANSI was also entirely behind it. So we worked very quickly with ANSI to deliver this [online-proctored-exam option].”
Of course, as Goldstein acknowledges, there were exam integrity issues to consider when implementing online proctoring. “You can’t compromise the integrity of the exam,” he stresses. “And, so, we had to work to make it as safe as possible, and [we] added a larger bank of questions,” says Goldstein.
Guidelines for ensuring the integrity of CTS proctored exams online
Exams with online proctoring options, such as Graduate Record Examinations (GRE), typically follow a strict set of guidelines. These involve room conditions and webcam setup. Goldstein expands on the measures AVIXA takes to ensure exam integrity. “[Basically]“, he begins, “what the representative of ISO and the United States, ANSI, told us is that you have to be alone in the room, you have a computer and a webcam , [along with] a stable and secure internet connection.”
Goldstein continues that there is a presumed element of good faith at play. After all, among thousands of exam administrations, the vast majority of people are not trying to game the system. He acknowledges that AVIXA only offers weeks of proctored CTS exams online. But he notes, “…since we have been doing CTS, there has been a lot of [few] instances where people were trying to play the test somehow.
Goldstein expresses confidence that AVIXA has followed all guidelines set forth by ISO and ANSI to pass the online proctored CTS exam. He also congratulates the whole team for their efforts. “[This has been] about 12 to 18 months of work,” says Goldstein. “It’s a lot of backend work from our team, ISO, ANSI and Pearson VUE.”
And the work continues. Currently, only the CTS exam is offered in an online proctored format. However, there are plans to extend this to higher level certifications.
Goldstein acknowledges: “…[I]It was a really big boost to just get the CTS to this point. However, he expects the online proctored CTS exams to be a success and hopes that the CTS-I and CTS-D will come soon. “There’s an element of ‘Let’s see how it goes,'” Goldstein says. “I think increased accessibility will increase adoption [of the program].”
Improved accessibility for CTS renewal units
Goldstein also discusses another element of CTS certification – renewal for existing credential holders. According to Goldstein, the majority of CTS, CTS-I and CTS-D holders are looking for an easier renewal process.
“The ease of renewal varies enormously depending on where you are,” he concedes. “If you only have access to physical training, the pandemic [made] impossible physical preparation. We [then] moved to more online webinars and instructor-style online training.
However, says Goldstein, the live nature of webinars has become problematic for those actively working in the field. To combat this, Goldstein says AVIXA now offers on-demand webinars for which CTS renewal units (RU) can be obtained. He proclaims this as a “…huge step in the right direction”. Goldstein thinks this will dramatically increase the number of people looking for renewals.
Goldstein then turns to educational content. He says that, historically, third parties (e.g., distributors, manufacturers) have sought to have their programs accredited to provide CTS RUs. However, he acknowledges, this content was not available on AVIXA’s web portals. This is now starting to change.
According to Goldstein, “This year you can enter and view hosted content or RU accredited content provided by third parties. [This] is something that is being rolled out right now, and we have a few companies that have signed up for it. He says the rollout has the potential to grow very rapidly in the coming years.
Overall, notes Goldstein, the response to AVIXA’s various CTS-related initiatives has been quite positive. “The media feedback has been excellent,” he explains. “The feedback on social media has also been very good.” Additionally, he adds, AVIXA has received many requests from manufacturers and other parties seeking to host their RU-accredited content on AVIXA’s site.
Goldstein admits that all of these changes are in the early stages of rolling out. Thus, he recognizes that some mixed reactions are inevitable. He explains that many people have so much work to do that certification is currently not a priority. Nonetheless, Goldstein believes that, so far, “…the signs are very good.” He concludes: “It’s great that this is coming to fruition, and we couldn’t be more excited.”
Interview and editing by Dan Ferrisi, editor; written by Amala Reddie, associate editor.