Cisco’s IP/TV

Cisco Systems’ IP/TV is a scalable solution for broadcasting video over a school’s IP infrastructure. The solution consists of an IP/TV Broadcast Server and typical video production equipment to capture and feed the video, such as microphones, lighting, and a camera. “Cisco IP/TV technology … delivers a wide range of video and audio formats, most commonly MPEG-2 for the highest-quality broadcasts, MPEG-1 for TV quality, and MPEG-4, the new format for high-quality video and audio at low bit rates,” said Phylis Hawkins, education solutions manager at Cisco Systems. The list price ranges between $15,000 and $25,000, depending on which features are chosen. The IP/TV Broadcast Server, which encodes and delivers the video, can be used for videoconferencing, on-demand access to video collections or professional development content, broadcasting a superintendent’s speech or a school board meeting for the community to access online, and more, Hawkins said.


Clearvue & SVE Inc. offers a media-on-demand product called, which includes 1,800 curriculum-based videos, 12,000 core concept clips, 11,000 still images, 2,800 worksheets, and more. The content, which can be locally stored or streamed entirely over the internet, is searchable by keyword, subject, grade, publisher, or curriculum standard. Additional features include a built-in download/server manager, which allows for the scheduling of content downloads at convenient times; a video test-prep function; unlimited levels of administrative control; a current events portal; editable media; and more., which just launched at the Florida Educational Technology Conference in January, is already being used by nearly 2,000 schools, Clearvue says. Yearly building-wide subscriptions cost $1,495 for high schools and $995 for K-8 schools.

Discovery Education’s unitedstreaming

Until May 15, Discovery Education is offering a “buy one, get one free” offer to school districts for its unitedstreaming video-on-demand service, which features 4,000 curriculum videos segmented into 40,000 clips that are correlated with state standards and searchable by keyword. For every full-price subscription purchased before May 15, school districts will receive an additional one-year subscription free of charge. A high school subscription costs $1,495 and a K-8 subscription costs $995 per school building, per year. Downloading video clips can be managed with the unitedstreaming Network Manager software, which costs an additional $299 per school building, per year. The company also offers a local hosting option, in which unitedstreaming video content can reside on a server located within the school building. Unitedstreaming content reportedly is updated and refreshed every 24 hours.

FMG On Demand

Films Media Group (FMG) now offers customers the option of receiving their video in digital format in addition to VHS or DVD. Currently 2,000 titles–mostly best-sellers and brand-new items–are available digitally over an IP network, and an additional 2,000 are expected to be available this way by the end of 2005. Through this new FMG On Demand service, customers can choose to stream the video from FMG’s server or their own servers. Customers also can choose between 300 KB or 1.2 MB files, and they can either lease the digital content or purchase it outright. “We’re the only one who allows you to own your digital content outright,” said Wendy Collins, FMG’s director of digital strategies. However, many schools and districts find the temporary subscription model appealing, she said, because “a lot of educators plan their lessons for a semester or school year and then change them the next year.”

MINDS’ MC-eKC and Mediasite

Multimedia Instruction Network Delivery Systems (MINDS), which provides streaming media products to schools, offers both a content solution and a presentation recording and webcasting system. The MINDSconnect eLearning Knowledge Center (MC-eKC) is an online product that incorporates Discovery Education’s DigitalCurriculum service, 350 hours of professional development content, conference presentations, and more. Subscriptions range from $195 to $700 per license. Karl Seiler, president of MINDS, said schools should pick solutions that incorporate multiple content libraries that are accessible through a single sign-on. “One library isn’t going to do it,” he explained. MINDS also resells a presentation recording and webcasting system from Sonic Foundry Inc., called Mediasite. Its interface reportedly is capable of displaying streaming video content and a slideshow presentation at the same time. The Mediasite product can record and broadcast content online from any device with a VGA output, such as video or PowerPoint presentations on a computer, images from an electronic whiteboard or digital microscope, and more.

Optibase video hardware

Optibase Inc. makes a variety of appliances for encoding and decoding videos in the MPEG 1, 2, 4, and WMP file formats. The products are usually sold as a bundled solution by SAFARI Video Networks, which integrates Optibase appliances with SAFARI video management software. Optibase makes four main appliances that are popular among educators. The MGW200 is a 2-inch box that encodes and streams one channel to an infinite number of recipients. The MGW2000 is a 4-inch box that encodes and streams up to six channels at once. The MGW2400, also a 4-inch box, streams WMP files to six channels. The MGW1100 is an 8-inch box that streams MPEG and WMP files to 12 channels. Prices start at $3,500 per channel.

SAFARI Video Networks’ solution

SAFARI offers a system for delivering digital video content to the classroom without taxing schools’ bandwidth. With SAFARI, educators reportedly can access licensed content from multiple educational providers, as well as school-created digital libraries housed on network servers, through a single software application. The software gives educators a wide range of choice and complete functional control of all videos, SAFARI says, including viewing or full-motion playing, saving frames, and abstracting them to a local network directory. Digital libraries can be accessed from either Windows or Macintosh computers. SAFARI’s video networking division was recently acquired by Library Video Co., which sells 18,000 videos from 600 educational publishers to libraries and schools. Schlessinger Media, the video publishing division of Library Video, produces, licenses, and acquires content for the classroom that addresses core curriculum subjects in grades K-8.

Synergy Broadcast Systems’ VideoCourier

VideoCourier is a scalable solution that distributes both broadcast-quality and WMP-format video within schools. The central storage area for VideoCourier, called the Media Center, is designed to fit the needs of each facility. Digital encoders, digital servers, and supporting automation devices are included to match each facility’s requirements based on capacity and budget. A Central Media Center can range from $40,000 to $250,000. The Media Center can be designed for any video library regardless of format, including digital servers for MPEG 1 and 2 and streaming formats such as WMP. “Our system is designed to do most file movement at night, when bandwidth is most available, and then use smaller servers within each school for daytime streaming and broadcasting to TVs over the cable system in the school,” said Chuck Jones, executive vice president of Synergy Broadcast Systems.

VBrick’s EtherneTV

VBrick Systems’ EtherneTV system delivers one- and two-way television over IP networks for multiple purposes, making ISDN lines unnecessary and obsolete. Similar to Cisco’s solution, EtherneTV can be used as a video surveillance system or a videoconferencing solution as well as a video-on-demand service. The components of EtherneTV include encoding appliances to capture a video source, digitize and compress the video signal, and deliver it over an IP network; video-on-demand servers to store and send previously recorded video over the network on request; a media control server to configure, secure, and control video assets and operations; and decoding appliances and software to decompress the video signal for display on Macintosh or Windows computers, TVs, or personal digital assistants (PDAs).

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Video Goes to School — Part II

Video Goes to School — Part III

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