WALLINGFORD, Conn.–February 13, 2007–VBrick Systems, Inc., the world leader in digital video systems and solutions, today announced that the Marine Science Institute (MSI) is using VBrick Systems to provide live video streaming for its Virtual Voyage distance learning program. The new Virtual Voyage enables students to participate in MSI´s San Francisco Bay marine science education programs online without leaving the classroom. MSI is leveraging the Virtual Voyage to extend the reach of its educational programs and create new revenue streams.
Since 1970, MSI´s engaging educational programs have been providing students with unique insights into the San Francisco Bay ecosystem. MSI´s Discovery Voyage program features a four-hour San Francisco Bay exploration aboard The Robert G. Brownlee, custom 90-foot research vessel. The Discovery Voyage blends educational instruction with hands-on student activities. Committed to expanding its educational services, MSI selected VBrick to provide IP video streaming for its Virtual Voyage. The Virtual Voyage is available online at www.sfbayvirtualvoyage.com.
The Virtual Voyage is an interactive, 45-minute webcast that is streamed live using a wireless broadband connection. MSI instructors on the ship provide entertaining and educational insight to remote viewers. Program stations include fish and invertebrate education and identification; a session that examines the role of salinity and other sea water properties; and a plankton lab exercise that provides a microscopic view of ocean activity. Using fish keys that teachers download from the MSI website, students identify fish during the Virtual Voyage, as well ask and answer questions with the MSI staff.
"We required an economical and reliable solution to expand our programs from San Francisco Bay to classrooms anywhere via the Internet," said Aaron Tinker, membership and development coordinator, Marine Science Institute. "VBrick provides the ease-of-use and portability that enables us to add distance learning capabilities seamlessly to our existing programs. Because our Virtual Voyage production cost is minimal, we are empowered to provide online lessons that are affordable and engaging. The technology is easy to manage, which frees us to focus on teaching and student interaction."
Los Angeles Valley College and other schools have participated in Virtual Voyages with positive responses from teachers and students.
"The vibrant underwater ecosystem is often difficult to convey in a textbook, which makes video an ideal teaching tool to provide students with added insight into diverse ocean life," said Jacquelyn Hams, Earth Science instructor, Los Angeles Valley College. "The Virtual Voyages are providing my San Fernando Valley students with living examples of how fish adapt to environmental changes and other marine biology considerations. Students enjoy asking the instructor live questions and seeing the camera zoom in to magnify fish details. I am pleased with the video quality."
Delivering the Virtual Voyage to the Classroom
MSI uses a Sony DV camcorder connected to a VBrick MPEG-4 encoder digital video appliance on its boat. As a cameraman records a marine biologist conducting onboard research vessel demonstrations, the VBrick appliance feeds the live, compressed video signal to an onboard radio transmitter that includes omni-directional antennas. The radio then beams the video signal to MSI´s Internet Services Provider, which streams the video in real time over the Internet. Approximately the size of a dictionary, the VBrick appliance is portable, reliable, and easy to manage–critical considerations for remote streaming.
Schools that participate in the Virtual Voyages use broadband connections to access the video streams on their classroom computers using QuickTime or RealPlayer media players. A teacher´s classroom computer is typically connected to a television or projector, allowing students to view MSI´s onboard demonstrations in real time. MSI uses free voice over IP software to make the session interactive–students respond to the instructor´s questions while also asking the instructor questions of their own.
"We are proud to anchor the technology for MSI´s Virtual Voyage program," said Craig Myers, director, Western Region, VBrick Systems, Inc. "MSI illustrates how streaming video has reached the ease-of-use and reliability tipping point. In addition to providing live educational programming to classrooms easily, MSI is using Virtual Voyages to serve additional students and generate additional revenue."
In addition to MSI, school districts nationwide use VBrick for distance learning, classroom video-on-demand, and faculty/staff training. Applications include streaming live events to the classroom, distributing student-developed programming (such as morning announcements), and streaming cable television to the classroom. VBrick K-12 customers include school districts in Beacon City, New York; Desert Sands, California; and Edina, Minnesota.
About The Marine Science Institute
The Marine Science Institute (MSI) is a nonprofit organization that offers hands-on science and environmental education programs to students of all ages throughout the San Francisco Bay area and northern California. MSI´s mission is to cultivate a responsibility for the natural environment and our human communities through interdisciplinary science education. MSI has served more than 450,000 students since it was founded in 1970. More than 34,000 students participate annually in MSI programs. MSI is available online at www.sfbaymsi.org.
About VBrick Systems, Inc.
VBrick Systems, Inc. is the world´s most reliable provider of standards-based video networking solutions to educational institutions, corporations, and governments. VBrick, an ISO 9001:2000 certified company, has garnered numerous industry accolades including the Deloitte Technology Fast 500, Connecticut Technology Fast 50, and the National Association of Broadcaster´s (NAB) Award for Innovation in Media in the Content Delivery category. Based in Wallingford, Connecticut, USA, VBrick´s products are distributed through industry-leading value-added resellers, system integrators, and distributors. Find out more at www.VBrick.com.