For areas where there is no computer access, Optimal Solutions equipped  25 32-inch Oleva LCD monitors with an Amino set top box, which decodes the MPEG-2 stream back to video for input into the monitor.

“We have monitors in the cafeteria, the fitness center, the hallways, the front office, the conference rooms, the band room, the choir room, the wrestling room–anywhere we do not have computers, ” says Pennfield’s Network Specialist Susan Lewis. “They can all be tuned to a different channel, to our announcements, or to an on-demand source via handheld remote control or over the network.”

High Marks for IPTV

“We’re seeing a convergence of voice, data and video technologies onto a single IP network,” says Brandon Julian, director of technology design for Convergent Technology Partners, which designed Pennfield High School’s network. “We often recommend IPTV systems for our educational clients. The fact that the Internet is so widely used and carries so much media makes IP video formats ideal for a building-wide or district-wide media library, for streaming media on your local network, and for setting up video on demand systems.

“There are cost benefits as well.  Because IPTV runs on your data network, it eliminates the requirement to install coax cable systems or duplicate expensive head end equipment in each building. It can be utilized district-wide on the computers and infrastructure you already own, taking advantage of these previous investments.”

Pennfield IT Director Tim Everett likes the flexibility offered by their IPTV-equipped network.

“We own the system so we can choose and monitor the channels we want people to see. We can schedule programs building wide and eventually district wide,” he says. If the district decides to change the channels they offer, it’s easy to reconfigure the tuners and the encoders simply respond.

“This is my first opportunity to work with IPTV,” says Lewis. “I do like it and it’s easy to use. You have to configure it all to work together but once it’s done, it’s done. It’s not a daily chore and there’s very little maintenance.”

Sharing ideas

Ingle says that more than 250 school districts and universities are currently using eVideon software to manage their digital media.

“It’s a two-way, interactive video delivery system.  They can record classroom presentations, labs, board meetings, school plays, and athletic contests. Anything they can record on video they can put on the system for live access and later retrieval.”

Other K-12 schools, colleges, and healthcare organizations use eVideon in different ways.  The Grand Rapids Public Schools have already digitized and stored more than 2,000 videos in its library. The Ottawa Area Intermediate School District has a multi-county service providing not only 400 streamed videos on demand, but delivery of more than 9,000 physical assets, such as books, cameras and projectors, to more than 100 schools in its system, allowing teachers to schedule delivery of equipment stored miles away. In some districts teachers place their lesson plans on the eVideon system, create lists of favorites, and leave notes for substitutes.

Tammy Maginity is planning to use Pennfield’s eVideon server to store a series of How To videos, including how to compute semester grades and how to scan a document.

Because there is so much the software can do, Optimal Solutions has started a user group for teachers and administrators to share ideas for their IPTV systems. The company also has developed a version of eVideon specific to the healthcare industry as well as for general business needs. “It’s really just a matter of your imagination as to what you want to deliver over the system,” says Ingle. “It will serve almost anything on your network–except lunch.”